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The governing body of the Hopi is a council of hereditary clan elders and chiefs of religious fraternities. Among these officials there is recognized a speaker chief and a war chief, but there has never been a supreme chief of all the Hopi. Following ancient custom, various activities inhere in certain clans; for instance, one clan controls the warrior society, while another observes the sun and deter-mines the calendar. Each pueblo has an hereditary village chief, who directs certain necessary communal work, such as the cleaning of springs, etc. There seems to be no punishment for crime except sorcery, to which, under Hopi law, all transgressions may be reduced. No punishment of a witch or wizard is known to have been inflicted at Walpi in recent years, but there are traditions of imprisonment and of the significant and mysterious disappearance of those accused of witchcraft in former times.
The Hopi possess a rich mythology and folklore, inherited from a remote past. They recognize a large number of supernatural beings, the identification of which is sometimes most difficult. Their mythology is poetic and highly imaginative, and their philosophy replete with inconsistency. Their songs and prayers, some of which are in foreign languages, as the Keresan and Tewa, are sometimes very beautiful. They have peculiar marriage customs, and elaborate rites in which children are dedicated to the sun. The bodies of the dead are sewed in blankets and de-posited with food offerings among the rocks of the mesas. The Hopi believe in a future life in an underworld, but have no idea of future punishment. They smoke straight pipes in ceremonies, but on secular occasions prefer cigarettes of tobacco wrapped in corn-husks. They never in-vented an intoxicating drink, and until within recent years none of them had any desire for such. Although they have seasons of ceremonial gaming, they do not gamble; and they have no oaths, but many, especially among the elders, are garrulous and fond of gossip.
Additional Hopi Indian Resources
The books presented are for their historical value only and are not the opinions of the Webmasters of the site. Handbook of American Indians, 1906