Hopi is an Native American people of fewer than 4,000 Pueblo Indians (in 1956) inhabiting arid land in the northern Arizona highland, which was until the end of the 19th century less touched by contemporary culture than the larger tribes. Its customs and morals, its culture and religion were therefore preserved in their original form. The Hopi live in seven villages in northeastern Arizona on the elevations between the Rio Colorado and the Colorado Chiquito in the same area in which the Spanish Conquistadores found their ancestors in 1539. Even at that time their villages, consisting of stone houses, were apparently very old. In 1893 the General Conference Mennonites opened mission work among the Hopi, when H. R. Voth settled in Oraibi, the largest of the villages, having at that time a population of about 1,000. The work was difficult, but was continued with persistence and eventual success. A second mission station was opened in Moencopi and a third one in Hotevilla, which had been established in 1906 by the Hopi inhabitants of Oraibi. During 60 years of missions (1893-1953) about 150 Hopis were baptized.
One of the early difficulties was the lack of ability to communicate, since there were no written materials to facilitate learning the Hopi language. The missionaries, however, produced some literature, including a Bible history and a translation of the Gospels. The three stations had a combined membership of some 50 in 1931.
Epp, J. B. Bible history in Hopi Indian language: Old and New Testament. Los Angeles: Grant Publishing House, 1916.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: II, 345 f.
Thompson, Laura. Culture in crisis: a study of the Hopi Indians. New York: Harper, 1950.
Voth, H. R. The Oraibi Powamu Ceremony. Field Museum of Natural History, Anthropological Series, 1901: III.
Voth, H. R. Traditions of the Hopi. Field Museum of Natural History, Anthropological Series, 1905: VIII, 1-319.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 810-811. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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