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Book of the Hopi

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  896 ratings  ·  56 reviews

In this "strange and wonderful book," some thirty elders of the ancient Hopi tribe of Northern Arizona freely reveal for the first time in written form the Hopi world-view of life. The Hopis have kept this view a secret for countless generations, and this book was made possible only as a result of their desire to record for future generations the principles of their "Road

Paperback, 1st edition Anthropology, 345 pages
Published June 30th 1977 by Penguin Books (first published 1963)
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Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: native-people
I have wanted to read this book for a long time, but it wasn’t easy finding it in audio, and when I did, I realized that there were things in the beginning chapters that bothered me, such as the belief in the chakras, which are the tantric teachings of Hinduism. Next were the beliefs of the Australian Aboriginals, singing the earth’s animal and plant life into existence, and then came the Babylonian creation myth that makes up the book of Genesis in the Bible. I began to suspect that Mr. Waters ...more
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read this as a teenager, and the world view of the Hopi's affected me deeply enough at the time to consider running away from home. It was probably one of the major catalyst's to me to think about other cultures in a way that wasn't presented to us in the western world at the time via the media. (which was typically racist and demeaning). ...more
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Holy cow this book is fascinating. The Hopi have such interesting legends like how the earth was destroyed three times. Once by volcanoes, once by a flood, and once by an ice age. Also their creation story is pretty cool. But some of the things I loved the most were how they say that the creator had to destroy the earth because people would get really selfish and also they would start misusing their "powers of creation". Wow so true. Also their god led them to their land that they have now becau ...more
Paul Haspel
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book like this one is a rare thing indeed – a work that truly takes one inside the folkways and mindset of a community that is different from one’s own. Writing with a painstaking level of attention to detail, and in a strong spirit of respect, Frank Waters introduces the reader to the ways of the Hopi Nation of Native Americans in his 1963 Book of the Hopi.

Waters, the author of over 20 books, spent most of his life in the American Southwest; he was part Cheyenne, and lived among the Navajo an
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is arranged in to three parts - a section on Hopi myths and stories, another on rituals and feast days, and a last portion covers the historical record since Europeans came to the southwest. They're all fascinating, but the first two take a bit more focus to keep straight and follow the threads of, at least as someone who isn't steeped in the culture and customs. The book is slightly dated, I would like to read an updated version that continues the historical narrative and gives more c ...more
Erin Moore
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The testimonial on the back of this edition proclaims "deserves to be part of the library of any student of the American Southwest", which I find to be very short-sighted on the part of the reviewer.

This book is not just an origin myth of an indigenous people. It proclaims the history of the Americas and a history of a pre-historic people, and, if one wants, a geological history of the world. Any anthropologist, geologist, or sociologist needs to study what this book has to tell us about our or
Lorraine McCleary
Aug 05, 2019 rated it liked it
A classical study of the Hopis supposedly written with the elders information and consent in the 60's.
Traditionalists discredit Frank Waters information in this book, so it makes it hard to decide what to believe or not. Despite this, it makes a fascinating read, especially for me the history according to the elders and the creation myths. The ceremonies bogs down as its so intricate, but worth reading through.
Giorgio Comel
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
true and sad account of what magnificent culture is lost forever. the Hopi, the first Americans.
Rick Bonaventura
Not the book I thought it was when I bought it 50 years ago.
Jul 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, for-fun
I read this book to cap off all I've learned about the Ancestral Pueblo Native Americans. The Hopi are thought to be their descendants. The book takes you inside the Kiva to observe a bewildering array of ceremonies, rites and performances. The religion is complex and focused on natural events, not the least of which is rain. It also provides a backdrop of the Hopi's own creation story, flood story and ancient migrations and the formation of the many different clans. Clan symbols are often left ...more
Skittle Booth
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Utterly fascinating book. I knew virtually nothing about the Hopi Indians before I read this, and I was amazed to learn about the rich spiritualism of Hopi ceremonies, beliefs, and world view that are described and explained here. I don't think the word "primitive" applies at all. Reading this book is just not enlightening, either. It's thought provoking, and I might even say transformative. Hopi traditional culture, as I learned, is mostly a peaceful one, rather unlike the rational, materialist ...more
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is easy to get lost in the detailed descriptions of the overwhelming number of symbols and spirits that form the basis of the Hopi culture that Frank Waters lays out. It is a monumental effort and much too rich to read in a month or two. In my opinion this research takes more of a life long commitment to read and understand. This is my second time through the book and it is just as fascinating as my previous effort. A very complex culture indeed.
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religiosity
A classic title dealing with native American religion. I've worked my way through it two or three times over the years. Don't know why it wasn't on my list of books read.

An amazing read -- one to be savored and thought about rather than sped through.
Fredrick Danysh
Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: native-americans
This work explores the culture and traditions of the Hopi Indians. It includes their creation legends. The ceremonials and the picture writings are discussed.
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating research on Hopi belief, history, and tradition. I read this book to prepare for a trip to northern Arizona and found this additional context to be useful in getting more out of visits to pueblos and heritage sites. I now feel more informed and sensitive to Native Americans living in the US and for that I am grateful.

For the most part the book is at a good level for a reader with no existing knowledge of the Hopi, but at times I felt like it lacked explanation for some of the terms u
Ken Kuhlken
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I had stopped reading before the last part, which is lots of history, I would have rated it lower than five, because a couple hundred pages is given to details of the many ceremonies, and I felt overwhelmed by all the information. However, once the historical part puts the ceremonial stuff in the context of the history and current (at the time the book was written) condition of the Hopi people, I was glad I had struggled through all the ceremonial detail, because it gave me a perspective abou ...more
Charlie Bryan
Mar 26, 2021 rated it it was ok
A really beautiful book with some excellent illustrations and photographs, however, I found the writing style to be extremely dry and tedious. The first two sections on Hopi creation myths and migrations were fascinating, then it just went downhill from there. The section on their annual ceremonies was a tough trudge, even though the material was interesting, and the last section concerning their history with Europeans and Americans was one of the worst most oversimplified accounts of Western Hi ...more
Sep 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first three parts of the book are well-researched with lots of photos and illustrations. It sounds like things came together so that this level of completeness could happen.

The fourth part, with more modern history, suffers a little from being so without conclusion and things we have learned since then. It might be worth revisiting to see if things have come any closer to the ended recommendations. Is witchcraft still a problem?

I also can't help but know that the Navajo would probably have
Dennis Connolly
After considerable volunteer work in Hopi, and making many friends on First & Second Mesas, I thought I'd read this "popular guide" to Hopi to see if and how it may actually align with the people. I have misgivings but we'll see.

I wish, though, that so many would worry just a quarter as much about how Hopi, a small tribe, struggles to maintain their rich culture and identity as they do about Hopi prophecy and mythology.
Sunni Marsden
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommend this book. I read it four times over a three year period and hope to give it another go later in life. The Hopi creation story is magnificent; one of my all time favorites. The author does a great job with the subject and I appreciate his matter of fact delivery style.
Jun 24, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a long account of the history of the Hopi. I thought it was pretty boring and hard to read. not a fun book at all.
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Absolutely loved this book.
Robert Hann
Oct 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Even the briefest glimpse of another way of navigating the human experience can illuminate one's own being. Because of that, I found this book to be worthwhile. I valued the exposure to one author's synthesis of the Hopi way of life. There were moments not of transcendence, but of understanding and admiration. 'The Legends' and 'The History' parts are chock-full of examples. However, there were also some head-scratching moments (e.g., unjustifiably moving from theorizing about the Mesa Verde 'Sp ...more
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, b-history
In the beginning Taiowa created his Nephew to lay out the the universes in proper order. And so begins Frank Waters' book of the Hopi.

Fully a third of the book is dedicated to telling the lore of this tribe, and through the saga you learn of a tradition that explains why this small group of people have been living in the same area for a millenia. As Waters moves to discussing recorded history and the shameful exploitation of a people by the American Government, you discover how unique and specia
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, b-history
In the beginning Taiowa created his Nephew to lay out the the universes in proper order. And so begins Frank Waters' book of the Hopi.

Fully a third of the book is dedicated to telling the lore of this tribe, and through the saga you learn of a tradition that explains why this small group of people have been living in the same area for a millenia. As Waters moves to discussing recorded history and the shameful exploitation of a people by the American Government, you discover how unique and specia
As a document of the spiritual beliefs, history and prophecies of the Hopi people, this book is very important. However, much of it is very confusing and barely readable; it took me several years to get through it. The last few chapters about the history and the prophesies are interesting, and those I recommend.
Noah Vickstein
Jul 15, 2009 is currently reading it
I haven't finished the book but read most of it 3 or so years ago. It's unlikely I will ever receive it back from the person who borrowed it, so I may never finish it.

I was in the perfect state of mind for this book to be meaningful. I was living near the four corners area so the landscape of the surrounding environs I knew were pointedly relevant.

I'm not sure what else to say but I've encountered a lot of people it would seem who are resistant to the idea that there was anything special about o
Aug 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: native-american
It was fascinating to read about the culture and history of a people who have lived in North America long before Europeans came on the scene. The first part of the book which went over all the ceremonies and traditions took a while for me to read but when I got to the the history of the people (towards the end), all the previous reading became relevant. A lot of times Native people are all lumped together as one race. This book brought to light the uniqueness that one particular tribe has as it ...more
Eugene Miya
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
Based on a friend's recommendation.

My problem with the book (it's an OK read) is that it's a period book of the 1960s without trying to be. It's automatic declaration of WWIII. It has some decent recommendations about their relation with the neighboring Navajo (seen in a more nomadic less positive life and a little arrogant (they might say the same about the Hopi)).

Covers the 3 Mesas (been there), and the 4 directions. The photos were taken before the extensive photo-prohibition (can't say that
Jun 13, 2010 rated it liked it
This book was pretty okay. The definate strong point was the first section - the retelling, and possible first written version, of the Hopi creation myth. Other scattered myths throughout the book were also equally valuable for me. At the outset, Waters makes the assertation that he is compiling the "Hopi Bible" which this book definately fails to be. An adequite intro to the history, mythology, and ritual of the Hopi? Sure. Biblical in any way? Definately not. Still, not a bad read. However, as ...more
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