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Hopi Perception of Cultural Landscapes and Time

The Hopi culture is unprecedented in their understanding of the archaeological sites and their cultural implications. The unique blend of geographic landmarks with their symbolic significance and ancestral ties coupled with the unusual non-linear perception of time is the reason their culture has enjoyed special attention from the scholars.

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The central theme in Hopi’s understanding of life as a process is a motive of movement. Unlike that of most other cultures, their mythology operates in philosophical constructs rather than images or allegories. The passage of the tribes, or, rather, the whole culture, is viewed as a movement from the Sípàapuni (the place of emergence) to Tuuwanasavi, the destination point (Kuwanwisiwma and Ferguson 25). Along the way, the Hopi people leave “footprints,“ or artefacts. Importantly, the footprints are not limited to the contemporary creations – all the signs of Hopi civilisation, including remains of pottery and the ruins of the villages, are considered an input into the Ang kuktota.

Hopi also notably differentiate between geographical sites and cultural landscapes. The Kiikiqö, or archaeological sites, are not limited by the location of the footprints of a certain period or group (Kuwanwisiwma and Ferguson 26). Instead, the cultural landscape accounts for the background information about the site’s current or former population, the significant historical events associated with it, and the spiritual significance derived from the practices conducted there. A prominent example of this is Pasiwvi – the name which applies to several geographically unrelated regions united by the motive of spiritual decision-making.

The petroglyphs, which serve as markings of the tribal migration, are not limited to utilitarian means. The Hopi people attribute a spiritual aspect to these iconographic elements. As the petroglyphs denote the movement of tribes and the changes in stewardship, they are perceived as a representation of the process rather than the resulting disposition. Remembering that the process of development and “moving along” life is a part of their spiritual pact with deities, it becomes clear that the borders of their ancestral sites are the manifestation of their involvement in the culture-forming process.

Finally, the perception of time is impacted by such a setting. Hopi think of time as non-linear or, rather, uneven in its progression: its pace is determined by various historical events. This sets them apart from the majority of known cultures, including other native American tribes (Oswalt 14). It can be said that while the Hopi world view has a concept of origin as a starting point, it, too, is determined by the subsequent movements and events rather than a predefined geographical point.

The perception of Hopi is much closer to the cultural domain than to the physically determined geographical locations. The archaeological sites are perceived as a collection of all the relevant information, which can be compared to the inclusion of the context used in the modern ethnographic, historical, and social studies. While scientifically inaccurate, such a view serves as a basis for a unique, unprecedented culture.

Works Cited

Kuwanwisiwma, Leigh and Timothy Ferguson. Hopi Ancestral Sites and Cultural Landscapes, 2004. Web.

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Oswalt, Wendell. This Land was Theirs: A Study of Native North Americans, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

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