Hopi people belong to the Pueblo Indian tribe living in north eastern Arizona. The place where they stay is referred to as Hopi Nation or Hopi Reservation. “Hopi” is a short form of the term Hopituh-Shi-nu-mu meaning “peaceful people”. Hopi names are unique, at times eclectic. Precise origin of most Hopi surnames cannot be traced as the families emigrated very often. The surnames seemed often more of a collective origination from several various origins.
Hopi people were identified by clans and followed matrilineal naming system. This meant the member of the Hopi tribe belong to one clan and came from the mother’s clan. Normally, clans were named after an animal, for example Horse Clan or Snake Clan. As per the belief system of the Hopi, naming themselves with the name of an animal would give them special powers of that animal. Marriages within the same clan were strictly forbidden.
The clans migrated in the Hopi lands autonomously from different directions and at different times. The clan name represents the history of migrations of the Hopi tribe. Each Hopi clan has its own stories with respect to their migrations, and their existence at the current villages. Due to the multiple history of Hopi migration, modern parents adopt the names existent in the current place of residence.
The Hopis are an ancient civilization living in the same place for many years. They’re also deeply rooted to their religious customs and rituals which artistically depict various aspects of their humanistic socializations. Owing to the convenience of modern society, there are some concessions. However, the Hopis are passionate about their cultural traditions and continue to guard them closely. Their community lives in isolation, attempting to maintain confidentiality of their traditional practices to the outside world. All meetings of the Hopi men were conducted at “kivia” which was considered a sacred place by this secret society.
Among the many customs followed by the Hopi, naming ceremony of a child was one of great importance to them. As per Hopi tradition, a newborn baby was not exposed to sunrays for 19 days. The baby was wrapped in the blanket, making only the head visible. When a child was born, the child would be gifted a perfect ear of corn and it was termed so because the corn tip ended in four kernels. The number four held great importance in the Hopi religion, so many traditions and rituals involved the repetition of four.
The corn laid next to the baby represented mother Earth and would be treated as, the Corn Mother of the child. On the twentieth day of the naming ritual, the Corn Mother would be rubbed over the child by the grandmother to bless him or her. Each paternal aunt of the child would give a gift and suggest a name. The grandmother would choose one of the suggested names, and then introduce the child to the sun god at sunrise. This was followed by a feast including the traditional Hopi stew which was prepared at the maternal grandmother’s house, few days prior to the naming ceremony. A boy child would be introduced to the Hopi tradition and ceremonies at the age of seven (7). A new name was given to the boy when he turned twenty one (21). This name would be treated as his permanent Hopi name.
Many Hopi people practice traditional arts, thus preserving their cultural heritage. While most Hopis live in the Hopi Nation, a few of them show interest in their cultural knowledge and celebrations including dancing, singing and other festivals. The Hopi people are highly skilled. A large number of Hopi people have regular jobs, today. Hopi art, crafting of earthenware, jewelry design, especially silverwork and weaving provide a means of livelihood to other Hopi people.
Modern day parents give non-Hopi or English names to their children. Hopi people may also change their names while accepting a particular religious society, or due to a significant life event. Hopi people have been inclined towards the Christian faith and various Christian missionary works. Some Hopi people have converted into Christianity, dropping their traditional religious practices.
Hopi people speak the Shoshonean language which is derived from the Uto-Aztecan linguistic family. The Hopi people are now encouraging their children to learn the Hopi language to be passed to the future generations. Several Hopi children are being brought up speaking Shoshonean at home. Hopi- English dictionary has been published by many editors. A group grassroots organization, the “Hopi Literacy Project”, is ceaseless in their efforts for promoting the native Hopi language.
Popular Hopi names for Baby Boys:
Alo – one who looks up
Ahote – one who is restless
Makya – the eagle hunter
Tocho – the mountain lion
Pahana – the lost white brother
Popular Hopi names for Baby Girls:
Chosposi – a blue eyed bird
Hehewuti – one who has a warrior’s mother’s spirit
Kaya – name stands for elder sister
Mansi – a plucked flower
Tansy- name of a flower