Hopi Political Organization

In 1934, the United States enacted the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) which envisioned Indian tribes adopting constitutions and governmental forms which imitated those of the United States. The United States assumed that an Indian “tribe” was a governmental unit and that “reservation” and “tribe” were one and the same. There was little concern for or recognition of traditional forms of government.

Under the IRA each “tribe” (“reservation”) was to vote on whether or not they wanted to reorganize. In 1936, the Hopi in Arizona voted on reorganization under the IRA. Only 20% of the Hopi turned out to vote and less than 15% of the total population actually supported reorganization. Harry James, in his book Pages from Hopi History, writes:  “When the final vote was taken, the Hopi who opposed the establishment of a tribal council were true to their traditional procedure in such matters and simply abstained from voting either for or against it.”

In other words, the Hopi “voted with their feet” by not participating in their election and in this way they demonstrated their opposition. While those familiar with traditional Hopi government recognized that only a small minority of the Hopi favored reorganization, the federal government, using only the numbers from those who actually voted, declared that the Hopi would be reorganized. Despite resistance to a unified Hopi government, a tribal council was established and all of the villages, with the exception of Oraibi and Hotevilla, sent representatives. The new government was the first time the Hopi had a central government and the new tribal council represented an alien way of life and government.

Traditional Hopi Government:

 Hopi are a Pueblo people who have lived in permanent agricultural villages in present-day Arizona for more than a thousand years. The name “Hopi” is a contraction of Hopi-tuh which means “peaceful ones.” While the United States has insisted on dealing with the Hopi as if they were a single tribe, they have been, and continue to be, a collection of independent, autonomous, and self-governing villages. Each of the Hopi villages has traditionally been self-governing, though the form of village government is similar in all villages. In an article in North American Indian Anthropology: Essays on Society and Culture, anthropologist Triloki Nath Pandey writes:   “There is no central authority for the Hopis as a whole. Within each major village there is a hereditary group of priests or chiefs.”

While the Hopi villages were tied together by a common language and religious beliefs, people identified themselves by their village. The concept of “Hopi” indicated a culture, but not a governmental entity.

The traditional Hopi villages were ruled by clan theocracies in which the kikmongwi (high priest) served as the father of the village as well as the priest for the most important village ceremony. In the Hopi village of Oraibi, for example, the kikmongwi was the head of the Bear Clan and the chief priest of the Soyal ceremony. The kikmongwi would usually appoint at least one spokesman who would speak for him.

Hopi clans, by the way, are matrilineal, which means that each person belongs to the mother’s clan. Each of the clans has its own ceremonies and its own history.

The primary role of the kikmongwi was to ensure the success of the crops and thus the well-being of the villages by carrying out ceremonial obligations. Political authority focused primarily on resolving disputes regarding land use. The kikmongwi leads by examples of humility, hard work and good thoughts. If a chief fails to follow the proper path, the Hopi are quick to criticize him, reminding him of the ancient principles.

Each Hopi village also had a qaletaqmongwi or war chief who was responsible for enforcing internal social order and for dealing with external affairs.

The town crier in each Hopi village would inform the people about village events. In The Hopi Indians of Old Oraibi: Change and Continuity , anthropologist Mischa Titiev, writing about Oraibi, notes:  “Some of the ordinary announcements they make suggest that they occasionally act as agents to maintain discipline.”

The village government was formed by the leaders – Crier Chiefs, Kiva Chiefs, and others – with clan relationships indicating governmental positions. According to writer Catherine Feher-Elston, in her book Children of Sacred Ground: America’s Last Indian War:  “It is true that the priests, religious leaders, warriors, and kikmongwis would listen to various opinions before making decisions, but government was not necessarily by consensus.”

After tribal reorganization in 1936, with a tribal government formed according to a constitution and bylaws written for them by anthropologist Oliver LaFarge, everything was supposed to change. However, the villages have continued to be self-governing, often ignoring the existence of a tribal council.

The Hopi and the Spanish

The Spanish entrada (entrance) into the American Southwest began during the sixteenth century with explorers who were driven by greed. The Spanish hunger for gold and other fast wealth was justified in their own minds by their religion: their attempts to harvest souls for their religion justified their brutality toward the native peoples they encountered. They had absolutely no doubts about their own cultural and religious superiority. Not only did they have no respect for the Indian cultures which they encountered and the hospitality which was freely offered them, but they expected the Indians to recognize their superiority and to serve them as porters, concubines, and slaves.  

At the beginning of the Spanish entrada, it is estimated that the Hopi, whose villages were the western-most of the Indians classified as Pueblos, had a population of about 29,000. The Hopi were not a politically unified group, but lived in several autonomous villages in Northern Arizona.

First contact with the Spanish invaders came in 1540. A Spanish expedition under the leadership of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado was making a sweep through the Southwest in search of the mythical Seven Cities of Cibola. The expedition came north from Mexico with a force of 330 Spaniards (most of whom are mounted soldiers) and 1,000 native allies. At Zuni in New Mexico, the Spanish waged a fierce hour-long battle in which they captured the village and the Indians fled into their stronghold at Thunder Mountain. The Spanish, who were starving, quickly seized the Zuni food supply.

After capturing Zuni, Coronado sent an expedition under the command of Captain Pedro de Tovar to make contact with the Hopi who had a tradition of trading with the Indian nations of the Colorado River area. The Hopi met the Spaniards at the town of Kawaika-a with coldness. The Hopi were in battle formation and drew a line on the ground with sacred corn pollen telling the Spaniards not to cross it. There was a short battle that was won by the Spaniards.

The next contact which the Hopi had with the Spanish came in 1583. Spanish conquistador Antonio de Espejo and his soldiers had taken formal possession of Zia Pueblo in New Mexico and the land around it for the King of Spain. The party then moved to El Morro and then to the Zuni. Travelling with 80 Zuni, the Spanish made contact with the Hopi village of Awatobi in Arizona. A combined force of Hopi and Navajo warriors met the Spanish in a show of strength and unity, but the Spanish forced both groups to make peace with them.

At the Hopi village of Tusayan the Spanish were presented with 4,000 cotton blankets, some of which were colored and some of which were white. The Spanish noted that the women wore cotton skirts that were embroidered with colored thread.

Espejo also noticed that the Hopi were painting their bodies with mineral pigments.  With the help of Hopi guides, the Spanish visited the Hopi mines which were located in Yavapai territory. The mines were located in the Jerome Mountains and had been mined by the Yavapai for centuries. The Spanish find that the mine shafts burrowed deep into the mountain, but they were disappointed to find that the mines contained copper rather than silver and gold.

At the end of the sixteenth century, the Spanish invasion of the Southwest turned from one of exploration to one of colonization. With colonization came Spanish rule. Under the reasoning of the Discovery Doctrine Spain, as a Christian nation, was entitled and perhaps obligated to rule over all non-Christian people which it encountered. Thus, the Spanish took possession of Pueblo lands and peoples.

The first colonizing efforts came in 1598 when Juan de Oñate led a large colonizing party-129 soldiers and their families, 10 Franciscan missionaries, 83 wagons, 7,000 cattle, sheep, and goats-into New Mexico and established a colony at San Juan in the upper Rio Grande valley. The Spanish brought with them over 1,500 head of horse and mules: 1,007 horses, 237 mares, 137 colts, and 91 mules.

Meeting with leaders from 30 pueblos, Oñate took formal possession of New Mexico for the Spanish and ignored any possible Indian ownership of the land. He took possession of Pueblo lands in the name of the Christian King of Spain and for the benefit of any of the Spanish colonists with him who might want to exploit them. The Spanish warned the Pueblo leaders that they must accept baptism and instruction in Christian doctrine. If they failed to do this, then the Spanish would inflict physical punishment upon them and they would suffer the eternal torment of hell afterwards.

In Arizona, Oñate demanded that the Hopi give formal submission to the King of Spain. The Hopi superficially obeyed, hoping for a hasty departure of the Spanish troops.

Later that year, a small Spanish group under the leadership of Captain Marcos Farfan de los Godos set out with Hopi guides to the Indian mining areas in the San Francisco Mountains. Here they encountered Jumano settlements and they persuaded the Jumano to guide them to the mines. They found mines which were being operated by the Yavapai. The ores extracted from the mines were used as pigments and were considered by the Indians of the area to be a valuable trade commodity. The Spanish immediately laid claim to the mine.  

In 1599, the Spanish destroyed the pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico after a native upraising. All Acoma adults were indentured for 20 years and all of the men had one foot hacked off. Two visiting Hopi, whose villages were to the west of Acoma, had one hand cut off so that others among their people would understand what happens to those who do not submit to Spain.

The Spanish, like many other European colonists, justified their taking of Indian goods and souls by giving the Indians the “gift” of Christianity. The first Christian missionaries arrived among the Hopi in 1628 in the form of 30 Franciscans. These men had come to the Americas specifically to convert the Indians to both their religion and their culture.  They established missions at the Hopi villages of Awatobi, Oraibi, Shungopovi, Mishongnovi, and Walpi. They also attempted to convert the Navajo. The following year, the Spanish missionaries arrive at the Hopi village of Awatovi.

In 1629, the Franciscan Spanish missionaries renamed mountains which are sacred to the Indians after their patron saint: San Francisco Peaks.

In 1630, the Spanish constructed their Catholic church on top of a kiva (an underground ceremonial room) at the Hopi village of Awatovi. This symbolized to both the Catholic priests and to the Hopi that Christianity was to be dominant.

In 1655, some of the Pueblos lodged a formal complaint against the excesses committed by the Franciscan fathers. In response to the complaint, Father Guerra searched homes in search of feathers or idols. In the Hopi village of Shongopovi, the Spanish priest found Juan Cuna in possession of a katsina doll. The Spanish Inquisition had ordered Indian religions to be destroyed, and so Father Guerra publicly whipped Juan Cuna, poured turpentine over his wounds, and ignited it, burning him alive.

Katsinas (also spelled Kachinas), for the Hopi people in Arizona, are the spiritual essence of everything that is. Beginning in December each year, the Katsinas come to live for a while with the people. From December through July the Katsinas will come and go from the kivas (underground ceremonial rooms). To teach the children about the many different Katsinas, the Hopi carve  tihu or dolls which represent different Katsinas. These tihu are not dolls to be played with, but hung from a wall or beam as a valuable possession.

In 1680, Pueblo spiritual leader Popé leads a revolt against the Spanish. By coordinating and uniting several Pueblos, the Indians defeated the Spanish. The Franciscans were driven out and the Pueblos set about re-establishing their religions. Among the Hopi in Arizona, the kivas were rebuilt using materials from the destroyed churches. At this time, the Hopi also began to use church bells in some of their ceremonies. For the Hopi, the use of the church bells symbolized the superiority of their religion over Christianity.

The Spanish soon began the process of re-conquest and as a result there were a number of population shifts within the Southwest. In Arizona, the Hopi village of Walpi, fearing Spanish reprisals from the Pueblo Revolt, moved from a lower terrace to a more defensive position on top of First Mesa. People from the New Mexico Pueblos fled the returning Spanish to resettle among the Hopi.

Walpi

The Hopi village of Walpi is shown above.

While the Hopi population was estimated at 29,000 at the beginning of the Spanish entrada, by 1690 it had decreased to 14,000 due to diseases brought by the Europeans.

In 1699, Espleta, the chief of the Hopi pueblo of Oriabi, led a delegation of about twenty to meet with the Spanish governor of New Mexico. Espleta proposed to the governor that they should agree that their two nations live in peace and recognize the other’s right to its own religion. The governor refused to accept these terms.

In 1699, the Spanish attempted to reoccupy the Hopi villages with the occupation by Spanish priests at the village of Awatovi. The following year, the Hopi attacked and destroyed the Spanish-occupied village of Awatovi. The Spanish priests and their male converts were sealed in a kiva and then suffocated by having hot ground chilies poured in through the roof opening. The women and children were taken to other Hopi villages. Some of the Hopi survivors from Awatovi were taken in by the Navajo where they founded the Tobacco Clan.    

A group of Tewa from New Mexico sought refuge among the Hopi in 1702. The Hopi chief did not fulfill the promise of land until they demonstrated their prowess. The Tewa defeated a Ute attack and were given a site on First Mesa where they built the village of Hano.

In 1716, a Spanish army under Governor Felix Martinez attempted to make the Tewa who sought refuge among the Hopi return to their pueblos in New Mexico. At First Mesa in Arizona, the Tewa in the village of Hano refused the Spanish request. Feeling that the climb to the top of the mesa to capture the Tewas would be costly, Martinez ordered Tewa crops to be destroyed and Tewa livestock to be killed. Some of the people who had fled from Jemez following the Pueblo Revolt of 1696 did return after the Spanish attack.

In 1775, Silvestre Vélez de Escalante, the missionary priest at Zuni Pueblo, received a request from the Spanish governor to report on the possibility of a land route between Santa Fe and Monterey (the Spanish capital of California). In addition, he was to report on a new plan for the subjugation of the Hopi. The priest and a small party traveled to the Hopi pueblos of Walpi and Oraibi. When he attempted to talk to the Hopi at Oraibi he received a hostile reception.

The following year, Spanish missionary Francisco Garces, stationed at the Mission San Xavier del Bac near Tucson, journeyed north to present-day Tuba City, Arizona . Here he encountered a settlement of Yavapai. A few miles away was the Hopi pueblo of Moenkopi which he describes as “half-ruined” and recorded the name as “Muqui conave.”

Another group of Spanish explorers led by the Francisans Fray Francisco Domínguez and Fray Vélez de Escalante approached the Hopi from the North. With the help of Paiute guides they were shown a road which led from Utah to the Hopi town of Oraibi. The Spanish followed the road to Oraibi where they received a friendly welcome and were given food. They then travelled to Second Mesa where they are told that the people of Shongopovi and Mishongnovi were willing to be friends, but they had no desire to become Christians. On First Mesa they spend the night at the Tewa-speaking pueblo of Hano. Here they met with a number of Hopi leaders and attempted to persuade them to travel to Santa Fe, but the Hopi leaders refused.

By 1780, the Hopi pueblos had now gone three years with no rain. They harvested only 800 bushels of corn and beans. While the Hopi population had been estimated at 7,494 five years earlier, it was now only 798. Five years earlier, the Hopi had had an estimated 30,000 head of sheep, now they had about 300. In addition, a smallpox epidemic swept through the Southwestern Pueblos and killed many Hopi.

In 1781, the Spanish planned to persuade the Hopi to relocate to New Mexico by sending converted Hopi and other Christian Indians to them. These Indians, ostensibly there for trade, would then be able to convince the Hopi to relocate in New Mexico. The plan failed.  After this, the Spanish showed little interest in the Hopi and they lived relatively free from European influences in their lives until their homelands were acquired by the United States.  

The Hopi Reservation

The Hopi had lived in their mesa-top villages in what is now northern Arizona for many centuries before the United States acquired the right to govern the area. They did not, however, sign a treaty with the United States and therefore did not reserve a portion of their homelands for themselves.  

The designation “Hopi” is a contraction of Hopi-tuh which means “peaceful ones.” While the United States has insisted on dealing with the Hopi as if they were a single tribe they are actually about a dozen independent pueblos.

Walpi

The Hopi village of Walpi is shown above.

The Hopi reservation in Arizona was created in 1882 by executive order of President Chester A. Arthur. The Executive Order which created the reservation allowed the Hopi only the use of the lands and did not recognize their ownership of the lands.   The reservation was totally surrounded by the Navajo reservation and excluded the major Hopi village of Moenkopi. The Hopi were not consulted in the creation of their reservation and its boundaries ignored a larger area that was settled and claimed by the Hopi. The rather arbitrary boundary lines created by the American government did not please the Hopi. Their ancestral homeland had encompassed hundreds of miles of land and had ranged from near what is now the New Mexico-Arizona borderlands, west to the Grand Canyon, and south to the Mogollon Rim. The Hopi clan petroglyphs and religious shrines had demarcated this area for many centuries.

J. H. Fleming was appointed as the Indian agent for the Hopi. Regarding the Hopi ceremonial dances, he felt that-

“The great evils in the way of their ultimate civilization lie in these dances. The dark superstitions and unhallowed rites of a heathenism as gross as that of India or Central Africa still infects them with its insidious poison.”

There were at least 300 Navajo living in the area which was designated as the Hopi Reservation. They were not asked to leave.

During the 19th century, the United States government policies with regard to American Indians called for them to be totally assimilated into American culture and for any remnants of tribal culture to be eradicated. As a part of this assimilation policy, the United States built a boarding school for the Hopi at Keams Canyon in 1887. The federal government set quotas for attendance from each of the Hopi villages. However, the people in the village of Oraibi refused to send their children to the school.

Three years later, the Hopi in the village of Oraibi were still refusing to send their children to school. The Tenth Cavalry was sent in to “insure peace”. The military troops invaded the village and “captured” 104 children for the school.

At this time, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs arranged for Oraibi leader Loololma and other Hopi leaders to visit Washington, D.C. where they were encouraged to accept allotment, Christian missionaries, and American schools. Loololma returned to the Hopi supporting the American programs.

In 1890, representatives from the Indian Office met with the military at the boarding school at Keam’s Canyon, Arizona to discuss a quota system to force Hopi children to attend the school. The Army was to implement and enforce the program. In the Hopi village of Oraibi, Loololma supported the government program and was imprisoned in a kiva by those who opposed it. Federal troops invaded and released Loololma.

In 1891, the United States sent surveyors to the Hopi reservation to divide the land into individual parcels under the Dawes Act. However, under Hopi tradition land is owned by the clan rather than the individual and the Hopi rejected the attempt to implement the Dawes Act. At this time, the Hopi village of Oraibi was divided into two factions labeled the “hostiles” and the “friendlies” by the Americans. The Hopi “hostiles” pulled up the survey stakes as soon as the surveyors left and the federal government ordered the arrest of the outspoken chiefs at the village of Oraibi who had opposed allotment. The troops were met by armed “hostiles” and the Hopi made a formal, ceremonial declaration of war against the United States.

The soldiers called for reinforcements, including Hotchkiss machine guns. The soldiers took eleven prisoners (the war chief and ten other leaders). Five of the prisoners were taken to Fort Wingate where they were forced to tend the gardens of the American officers. The Hopi prisoners did not stand trial nor were they provided with any legal protections.

In 1893, the Mennonite Church sent Reverend H.R. Voth to establish a mission in the Hopi village of Oraibi. Voth proselytized in the streets and forced his way into the kivas.

In 1894, conservative Hopi in the village of Oraibi continued to voice opposition to the requirement to send their children to school. Federal troops were called in and 19 Hopi men were arrested and imprisoned at Alcatraz Island. Among those arrested and imprisoned was Lomohongyoma.  

The Western Navajo Reservation and Agency was established in 1900 by Executive Order. The new reservation includes Tuba City, Moenkopi, and Willow Springs. In addition to the Navajo, the new reservation includes both Hopi and Paiute whose presence in the area predates that of the Navajo.

To encourage tourism into the southwest, the Santa Fe Railway promoted the Hopi Snake Dance as a tourist attraction and in 1900 published a pamphlet on the dance written by a Smithsonian anthropologist, Walter Hough. In the pamphlet, Hough reassured the tourists that while the Hopi continued to perform their Snake dance, they were not dangerous. According to Hough, Indians were living examples of the childhood of man. While the Religious Crimes Code had made ceremonials such as the Snake Dance illegal, it was not enforced against the Snake Dance because the railroad promoted it and the tourists demanded to see it.

Hopi Women's Dance

A Hopi women’s dance is shown above.

In 1900, Charles E. Burton became the Indian Agent for the Hopi. He ordered that all Hopi boys and men have their hair cut. Those who did not cut their hair voluntarily were to have it cut by force.

In 1901 Tawaqwaptiwa replaced Loololma as the leader of the “friendlies” in the Hopi village of Oraibi. Tawaqwaptiwa was the son of one of Loololma’s sisters.

In 1903, the Indian Agent for the Hopi with a number of heavily armed Navajo police raided the village of Oraibi during the pre-dawn hours searching for children who were not attending school. Men, women, and children were dragged from bed, some naked, some wearing little clothing, and forced to walk, many barefoot, through the snow and ice to the school. They were held in the school all day. The Indian agent told the Hopi that they were to have their children in school, every day, regardless of the weather conditions.

As a result of this raid and other abuses against Hopi children-lack of food, clothing, and medical care-Belle Axtell Kolp resigned as teacher and took the story to the media and to the Sequoia League.

In 1904, the Indian agent for the Hopi forced a number of men to have their hair cut. This was an act which disregards the ceremonial purpose of long hair. Long hair among the Hopi men was a symbol of the falling rain for which they prayed. For the Hopi, for a man to have his hair cut during the growing season was tantamount to asking that the corn stop growing.

In 1910, the federal government once again attempted to allot Hopi lands into small parcels of individually owned land. Once again the program fails. The Hopi do not share the American obsession with private property and farm land is clan owned.

In 1911, Leo Crane, the new superintendent for the Hopi reservation, requested a cavalry escort for a tour of the reservation. He found that four-fifths of the reservation had been taken over by Navajo and their sheep.  

In 1911, a detachment of Black troops under the leadership of Colonel Hugh Scott arrived at the Hopi reservation to help superintendent Leo Crane force the children of the village of Hotevilla to attend school. Colonel Scott went to Hotevilla to interview Youkeoma, the village chief. The troops stood by while Crane and his staff searched the village for children. Sixty-nine children were placed under guard to be taken to the boarding school at Keams Canyon.

Crane and the Black troops next stopped at Shongopovi where village leader Sackaletztewa opposed sending children to school. Using the troops as a way to intimidate the people, Crane searched the village and found three children.

In 1915, the Hopi boarding school at Keams Canyon was judged to be in dangerous condition and was closed. The children were enrolled in reservation day schools.

In 1917, a news service cameraman defied the Hopi rule against taking motion pictures of the Hopi Snake Dance. He was chased through the desert and his camera is confiscated. After reporting the incident to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, superintendent Leo Crane received the order that no photographs should be permitted. The ban on photography continues today.

When the Hopi reservation was created it was named the Moqui Agency, a term which was offensive to the Hopi. In 1917, the reservation superintendent recommended that the name be changed from Moqui to Hopi. In 1923, the name was officially changed.

In 1920, the non-Indian principal of the Oraibi School interrupted a Hopi ceremony when he saw a clown dancer with a huge artificial penis. In the words of the principal, he stopped the ceremony and told the dancer

“that if he ever did a thing like that again, I would put him in jail. He told me that he did not know it was wrong, that it was a Hopi custom.”

In 1921, Robert E. L. Daniel, the superintendent of the Hopi reservation, together with eight employees and seven policemen, all armed with pistols and buggy whips, went to the village of Hotevilla. The people were then forcibly stripped and dipped in sheep dip (black leaf 40). The superintendent wrote:

“We prepared their baths at the proper temperature, bathed them, and boiled and dried their clothes for them while they were being bathed. Yet they had to be driven or dragged to the tub, and forced into it like some wild beast, unblessed with human intelligence. Pure unadulterated fanatical perversity is the only explanation.”

Reports by others differ from that of the superintendent. In the words of Violet Pooleyama:

“They started putting our men and boys in it just as if they were sheep. They took the women and girls and put them in it, too. When the women fought with them they often threw them into the sheep-dip clothes and all. Sometimes they tore the clothes off the women and girls.”

According to the superintendent, the Hopi were dipped because they were “dirty” and they had lice. On the other hand, the Hopi feel that they were forced through this humiliating process as a form of punishment for refusing to send their children to school.

The government officials used baseball bats to club men who resisted and ten of the Hotevilla men were taken to jail in Keams Canyon for resisting. In one instance, they knocked a man out for two hours. When he came to, they handcuffed him, hung him from the saddle of a horse, and dragged him to Keams Canyon.

In 1922, word of the efforts of the Indian Office to prohibit Pueblo religions in New Mexico reached the Hopi. Several Hopi leaders decided to meet in Winslow, a non-Indian town which is located off of the reservation. They feared that if they were to meet on the reservation that the Indian Office officials would arrest them. Meeting with the Hopi was the distinguished writer James Willard Schulz.

Schulz heard the Hopi complain about threats from government if they continued their religion. One elder stated that he would rather be shot down by the government while doing his religion than try to live without it. The Hopi were determined to stand firm and to continue to observe their traditional ceremonial calendar.

Five Hopi visited Washington, D.C. in 1926 and presented four tribal religious dances before an audience of 5,000. The Hopi wanted to show people, including Vice President Charles Dawes and two Supreme Court justices, that their ceremonies were not cruel rites.

The Indian Office in 1930 decided that it was time for the Hopi and the Navajo to settle their differences by having delegates from both tribes meet in Flagstaff, Arizona. The Navajo had 11 delegates: 5 were Navajo from Hopi lands and 6 were Navajo from the western portion of the Navajo reservation. The Hopi had 13 delegates: 10 were from the 1882 reservation area and 3 were from Moencopi (a Hopi pueblo located outside of the reservation area). The arbitrator from the federal government told the delegates that this was an opportunity for the two tribes to resolve their land, grazing, and water problems. The conference, however, settled nothing.

In 1936, only 20% of the Hopi voted on tribal reorganization under the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. Less than 15% of the total population supported reorganization, but the act passed and the entire Hopi Reservation was reorganized. The Hopi who opposed the establishment of a single, overall tribal council simply abstained from voting on the issue, a traditional way of showing opposition. As a result, many traditional village leaders refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new tribal council.

The Commissioner of Indian Affairs appointed anthropologist Oliver La Farge to write the constitution and bylaws for the Hopi Tribe. The constitution called for a one-house legislature with a tribal chairman and a vice-chairman. LaFarge proposed the Hopi constitution because he was concerned about what he perceived as the fragmentation of Hopi culture. He apparently did not realize that a centralized government is foreign to Hopi tradition. Despite resistance to a unified Hopi government, a tribal council was established and all of the villages, with the exception of Oraibi and Hotevilla, sent representatives.