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Book of the Hopi

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  840 ratings  ·  49 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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 ·  840 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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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).
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 ...more
Peter Croft
I'm not going to rate this, it's a very esoteric book. Some will love it, some will not. It begins with the Hopi creation myth and then moves into some pretty detailed descriptions and explanations of their rituals and religious ceremonies. The further the book progresses the more challenging it becomes and, I suspect, it would be chiefly anthropologists or students of religion who would appreciate the information presented.

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 ...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
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, ...more
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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 ...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
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
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
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
Sep 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
This book describes a vague depiction of what life may be like as a Hopi. The traditions described are kept for secret due to the nature of their meaning meant for someone of spiritual value in order to understand it's context. Most of what Frank Waters has described in his dialogue about the Hopi's are far from what the REAL meaning behind such rituals and acts regarding the way of the Hopi. So I guess, for everyone in Hopi-land, you can calm down about this book because he exposes visuals ...more
Feb 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I loved the first half of the book as it was more about the background and story telling of how the Hopi came to be.
The rest of the book was still interesting but a little drier as it was more history book style writing. This section was still as intriguing and offered great insight to Hopi religion, symbols, tribe dynamics and more.
Since I love learning about people's history, culture and just history itself, I loved this book.
Sammy Sutton
Oct 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
I use this book as a reference to the Hopi. My writings possess a few Native characters and customs, which intertwine with Hopi beliefs. Franks Waters 'Book of The Hopi' is always an arms reach away when I am writing. He provides just the right amount of information and knowledge about a vast array of pertinent Hopi beliefs, customs, and history.
Mar 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: own-it
Abstract rituals and detailed stories of the clans. Stories passed down through generations. Though difficult at times, I was surprised on how fluidly I moved through this book. By the end, I found myself with a new lens in which to view the world, a lens that makes quite a bit of sense. Welcome to the forth world. Hopefully we do it right this time.
Jun 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
I misplaced the book, but I just found it again. Its cool, its like a bible of the Hopi religion and religious history. It was written by a man who lived with the Hopi for decades, and is supposidly written in their words (translated of course). Its nicely meditative, as well as interestinf in the fact that you see similarities between their religious stories and Chrstian ones.
Dec 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm fascinated with the cultures of the southwest and this book is the authority on all things Hopi. I really appreciated it, but it was a bit long at times going into great detail about ceremonies and names. So much so that I did not actually finish it. I enjoyed what I read and got my Hopi "fill".
Degan Walters
I got about halfway through this book after trying for about a year. I am fascinated with the history of the Hopi people and loved the fact that it was the voice of the elders rather than the anthropologist but it's taken me 5 months to get halfway through it so I'm quitting. It's too dense and too much new detailed information to someone who is just learning.
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