Why The Hopi Native American Tribe Is Called The Oldest Of People

According to the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, the ancestral lands of the Hopi people (pictured above, circa 1912) are in what is now called Arizona, in an area known as the Four Corners — where the states of Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico meet. There are now about 14,000 members of the Hopi tribe living in an area of about 1.5 million acres in the Southwestern United States, with many more living elsewhere around the world, per the Hopi Cultural Center.

As the Hopi population grew throughout the centuries, systems of government developed and sophisticated architecture developed, as well as closely-held religious practices and belief systems, many of which are performed in structures called kivas. This Native American tribe also had a well-developed agricultural system, growing blue ears of corn cultivated with water runoff from the mesas, according to Legends of America. What's also part of the Hopi belief system, though, is that they are among the earliest inhabitants on the North American continent, and the reason why they are called the oldest of people is backed up by science.

They've lived in North America for thousands of years

The belief that the Hopi are among the oldest people is based partly on their oral history, which stretches back millenia, tracing their existence in the Arizona area back 2,000 years (per ITCA). Their oral tradition states that the Hopi lived in three different "worlds" before settling in this one: The first world was destroyed by fire, the second by ice, and the third by flooding (per Ammsa). The world they currently inhabit is called Tuuwaqatsi, according to the Hopi Cultural Center.

Archaeological evidence supports this belief system. According to GRCA History, the Hopi — descended from the Ancestral Pueblo people — have indeed lived in the desert southwest for thousands of years, maybe longer, and migrated north from Mexico sometime around 500 B.C., becoming agricultural over 1,000 years later in A.D. 700. For these reasons, the Hopi belief system that three different worlds destroyed by fire, ice, and flooding, could seem to follow the contours of time itself, meaning the Hopi truly are the oldest of people.