Breaking News! Hopi-Spanish Relations




This lesson plan discusses the nature of early contacts between Hopis and Spaniards, the establishment of Spanish missions in Hopi lands, the evolution of the Spanish-Hopi relations, and Hopi resistance to Spanish authority. The students will be writing and acting their own five minute news show, either video or audio.




Ø      To understand the motives of the early Spanish expeditions in the American Southwest, and the evolution of Hopi-Spanish relations.

Ø      To identify the influence of the Spanish on Hopi society and culture.

Ø      To recognize the various ways by which Hopis resisted the imposition of the Spanish rule.

Ø      To create a TV/Radio News Show of Hopi-Spanish interactions.

Grade Level/Subject Area


Ø      6-8

Ø      Arizona/Hopi History

Ø      U.S. History

Ø      Social Studies


Ø      Student handout and questions

Ø      Video camera or tape recorde





Ø      1-2 weeks




            The earliest Spanish expeditions to the American Southwest were chiefly motivated by economic and religious reasons. There were rumors about the existence of the “Seven Cities of Cibola” in the middle of the huge deserts and that they possessed enormous wealth in the form of gold and precious stones. Hence, the Spanish set forth to the New World in search of these rich cities. They were accompanied by Spanish missionaries who were intent on spreading Christianity in the new lands.   


            Initial contacts between Hopis and the Spanish were established in 1540, when Spaniards visited seven Hopi villages: Mishongnovi, Shungopovi, Awatotovi, Walpi, Sikyatki, Oraibi, and Kawaiokuh. Hopis were also known as Moquis. In 1540, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado explored Arizona and New Mexico. When Coronado’s soldiers, under the direction of Pedro de Tovar and Fray Juan Padilla, arrived at Kawaiokuh, the Moquis in the village did not let them enter their village. This rejection resulted in a Spanish attack on the Hopis and the demolition of their village. After witnessing this incident, the Moquis of the neighboring villages sought peace and gave gifts such as, clothing and food to the Spaniards. Similarly, in the same year, Captain Cardenas led another expedition that passed through the Hopi villages. Moquis received him in a friendly manner and provided guides for him. From 1581 to 1593, there were about five explorations in search of the rich cities of Cibola. By then, the Spanish realized that these seven cities did not exist and began searching for rich mines. However, the credit for obtaining the submission of Moqui chieftains to the King of Spain goes to Juan de Onate, who visited their province in 1598.


Between the years 1628-1680, Spanish priests set up missions in Awatovi (San Bernardino), Shungopovi (San Bartolome), and Oraibi (San Francisco). The Spanish seized pueblo lands and resources. According to oral traditions, Hopis were forced to help in the building of houses and churches for the Spaniards. The Spanish priests also sent Moquis to bring fetch drinking water from Moenkopi because the water in the springs of Oraibi was not good. Moreover, Hopis were also forced to practice Christianity and abandon their own religious practices. Those who refused to follow the Spanish rules were severely punished by the priests. Yet this maltreatment did not prevent Moquis from practicing their religion and way of life. Sometimes Hopis duped the priests going away from their villages on the pretext of hunting and then, practiced their religious beliefs. Thus, Moquis resorted to passive resistance against the Spaniards. 


Unable to bear the colonial oppression, all the Native-Americans of the pueblos decided to overthrow the Spanish.  This led to the Pueblo Rebellion of 1680 in which the people of the pueblos defeated the Spaniards. The Hopis joined the other pueblos in this revolt and killed the Spanish padres living in Hopi villages. Although Moquis were free from the Spanish control for twelve years, Spaniards once again invaded the pueblo lands in 1692 under Don Diego de Vargas. Facing threat of destruction from de Vargas, the chief of Awatovi accepted Spanish rule. Despite the Spanish succession in the pueblos of New Mexico, they were not able to regain complete control over Hopis. In 1700, Awatovi was destroyed by other Moqui villagers because it was believed that the people of Awatovi violated Hopi traditions and principles.


While Moquis were subjugated by the Spanish, they benefited and also suffered due to European colonization. The Hopis acquired new wood working as well as stone tools, and animals such as, goats, horses, burros, sheep and cattle. They also learned to grow new vegetables and fruits. Cultivation of peach orchards gained importance among Hopis. The Spaniards also brought with them watermelons, chilies, and superior quality of onions which constitute part of the Hopi diet.


Besides the changes in the cultivation of plants and domestication of animals, Moqui population was also affected by the small pox epidemic that came into the country along with the Spanish. In 1851, the Hopi population was 6720. From 1851 to 1853, there was an outbreak of smallpox, which resulted in the deaths of a huge number of Hopis. Apart from being affected by smallpox, Hopis endured hardship under the Spanish rule due to forced labor, severe physical punishments, and imposition of western religion over Hopi traditional ceremonies and beliefs. Thus, Hopi-Spanish relations had both positive and negative effects.         




  1. What do you know about Hopi-Spanish relations? What was the impact of the Spanish contact on the Hopi culture?


  1. Provide students with a brief lesson of the early contacts between Hopis and the Spanish, and the evolutionary history of Hopi-Spanish relations.


General Lesson Questions


Ø      When was the first contact between Hopis and the Spanish established? What were the two main motivations for the early Spanish explorations?

Ø      In what ways did Moquis benefit from Spanish contact?

Ø      What were the negative results of the Spanish-Hopi relations?

Ø      When did the Pueblo Revolt break out? What were the main reasons for the rebellion? What role did Moquis play in this outbreak?

Ø      How did Hopis react to religious conversion by Spanish priests?

Ø      What were some of the ways by which Moquis resisted Spanish rule?



News Show Activity: 


1.                          Divide the class into cooperative groups or partners (ideally groups of four).

2.                          Review  the following student handout instructions


Student Handout


You are reporters covering the big story of Hopi-Spanish relations for your television or radio show.  Your job is to find out all you can about the history of this issue and report it live!  To do this, you must do your research first.


Then, you will write a script for your show. 


You should have a News Anchor, and two Field Reporters, and interviewee.  The News Anchors will introduce and summarize the topics.  The Field Reporters will provide the details and interview.



1         With your team, read the following online resources in order to get an idea of the history of early Spanish exploration of the American Southwest:  Remember, you are reporters – make sure you all take accurate notes.




a.       Canyons, Cultures, and Environmental Change: An Introduction to the Land Use History of the Colorado Plateau


b.       Coronado Explores what will become the Southwestern United States, 1540-1542  




  1. Next, read the following excerpts below and review the questions on the student activity sheet, with your team members. We will discuss this aloud in class.


3.  Begin writing your script for your role.  When finished, give your script and notes to your teacher to be checked for accuracy.

Ø       News Anchor:  Summarize each event (Pueblo Revolt, Missions,  role of Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza ) into 1-2 paragraphs

Ø       Field Reporters: Consult with the interviewee to see which historical figure they are going to portray.  Make up a list of  5 questions to ask the character.

Ø       Interviewee: You will play the role of The Governor Don Juan Bauptade Anza, a Hopi at the early Spanish missions at Oraibi, Dominguez-Escalante, Don Diego de Vargas, Hopi during the Pueblo Revolt or any other role you choose from the readings below or class lecture.


4.  3-2-1 ACTION:  You will have 1 class period to rehearse your show, then we will record.  When each group has recorded their show, we will listen or watch them in class!


I. The Traditions of the Hopi by H.R. Voth


Before and during the Pueblo Rebellion of 1860


“The Early Spanish Missions at Oraibi:

            A long time ago the Oraibi were living in their village. The Spaniards often made inroads upon them and warned against them. Finally they made peace with each other and the Spaniards requested that they be permitted to live in Oraibi. The Hopi consented, so they hunted a place where Spaniards could build their house, and selected a place north of the village of Oraibi, where the ruins of the Spanish old buildings may still be seen.  Here the Hopi assisted them in building their house. . . The priests commenced to forbid the Hopi to have Katcina dances and make bahos. They demanded them to attend meetings in the assembly house,  . . . The Hopi began to be very tired and did not plant much that year, so the chiefs called over a council and they talked the matter over . . .  So they again began to have ceremonies, each fraternity with its own altar, and they made bahos, but did not tell the priests about it.”


            “ . . . The killing of the padre in Oraibi was the signal for the other villages to get rid of the padres that lived in those mesas also . . . They destroyed the houses of the Spaniards, divided their logs and timbers, and used them for their kivas. Some of the smaller bells are still owned by the Agave Fraternity . . . From that time, on the Hopi again had their dances and their sacred altar performances in their kivas.”


            - from The Traditions of the Hopi by H.R. Voth, (Oral history account by Wikvaya of Oraibi), Chicago, 1905, pp. 268-271.          



II. The Dominguez-Escalante Journal: Their Expedition through Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico in 1776


November 16, 1776:


             . . . We arrived at the mesa of El Pueblo de Oraibi. We ordered companions to halt at the mesa’s foot, that none except those going up with us should approach the pueblo until we gave the word.

            We went up without incident. As we started to enter the pueblo a large number of Indians, big and small, surrounded us. We kept asking for the ritual headman and war captains in a language they did not know, and as we tried to go over to the ritual headman’s house they stopped us, and one of them told us . . . not to enter the pueblo. Don Juan Pedro Cisneros then asked him spiritedly . . .  whether or not they were friends of ours. This quieted them down, and a very old man led us to his home and lodged us in it, offering us a room in which to spend the night, and their customary victuals . . .

            Tonight the ritual headman with two very old men came to visit us, and after having let us know that they were our friends, offered to sell us the provisions we might need. We let them know that we much appreciated it.


November 17, 1776: 


            On the 17th, quite early, they brought us at our lodging some baskets or trays of flour, beef mallow, maize paperbread, and other kinds of food supplies. We promptly purchased what we could, since of what we most needed they brought the least . . . We made them understand some things, especially the ritual headman and our host and benefactor; they listened attentively, but let us know little else than that they wished to preserve their friendship with the Spaniards . . . After midday we left Oraibi for El Pueblo de Shongopovi . . . 


November 18, 1776:


            On the 18th, when the Indian councilmen of this pueblo had assembled, along with those the adjacent ones, . . . after we had tendered them out thanks . . . for the courtesies and good reception they had given us, we preached to them; and they replied that they could not parley with us for their being unable to understand Castilian, or ourselves the Moqui language, that we should go over to Walpi, where they had some who knew the Castilian tongue, and that there, by talking all that we wanted with the ritual headman and war captains, we would learn about what they all desired . . . They further replied that . . . they wanted to be our friends but not Christians. In the afternoon we left for Walpi and, after going two leagues and more than a quarter, we arrived when it was already dark . . . After we had rested a short while, a backslider Indian named Pedro from El Pueblo de Galisteo in New Mexico, already very old and enjoying much authority in this one of the Tanos in Moqui, informed us that they were currently engaged in a cruel war with the Navajo Apaches, and that these had killed and captured many of their people. For this reason, he added, they were wishing for the arrival of some padres and Spaniards, through whom they might beg the lord governor for some aid or defense against these foes. And so they had been particularly delighted when they learned that we had come to visit them, because they hoped that we would bring them support and relief . . . This looked to us like one of the finest opportunities for inducing them to submit themselves to the faith and the realms of his majesty (whom God keep).        

- from The Dominguez-Escalante Journal: Their Expedition through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico in 1776, translated by Fray Angelico Chavez and edited by Ted J. Warner, Utah: Brigham Young University Press,1976, pp. 108-112.



III. Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza, Governor of New Mexico: Diary of his Expedition to the Moquis in 1780 


“To Senor Mariscal de Campo Teodoro de Croix.

Arispe 22 July, 1780.

“To the Counsellor with the preceeding papers—Decroix


“Senor Commandant-General:

The Lieutenant-Colonel and governor of New Mexico, Don Juan de Anza, after having given an account of the unhappy condition to which the lack of rains has reduced the Moquis; . . . he shows that in order to aid, satisfy and remove them, he has released some horses from among those he had in reserve at the Fort, and on account of the distance and the severity of the weather some losses resulted; and also that he has given provisions, tobacco and other small gifts, which he paid out of his own salary; and having  no orders or means with which to meet these expenses and those which in the future may arise in his efforts to attract this nation, as well as to the making of gifts to other pagans who give us some recognition and remain at peace, he asks his that Your Excellency be pleased to say in what manner he is to carry on this business in future.

Arispe July 29, 1780.—Galindo Navarro.”


Sunday 24th – I waited in order that the aforesaid people might come together and learned at the end of the afternoon that they were thirty in all, for whom I ordered horses, with orders that they join me tomorrow afternoon at the Gualpi Spring.

            This morning a considerable number of Moquis, the larger part from Oraibe, came to our camp, asking for the opening of trade, which I granted to them with advantages they have never before experienced; for which reason they consorted with us so much that even after they had finished, they remained throughout the day.


                                                                                                JUAN BAUPTADE ANZA”


“Senor Commandant General:

            The Governor Don Juan Bauptade Anza having stated . . . that the gentle methods adopted by Your Excellency for the reduction of the Moquis and leading them to take up their residence in our settlements in New Mexico and re-people that Province have produced the favorable effect of bringing into it voluntarily more than two hundred persons, who consider themselves happy on account of the reception and welcome which has been given to them, without caring to return to their old country . . . these will constitute the most vivid, attractive, and efficacious examples, so that the remainder of their Nation who remain obstinate in their own pueblos, may accept the proposals to leave and follow them voluntarily for the enjoyment of similar god fortune; that to this end, from among those converted and from among the other Indians he may consider the most adopted for the enterprise, he arranged that under the pretext of trade, some trusty emissaries, possessing his greatest confidence, go soon to the Moqui pueblos and subtly spreading among the Heathen the happiness they have enjoyed through having joined our pueblos, where they lack for nothing and are treated with greatest humanity, they may proceed insensibly stimulating a desire to follow them, and for that reason they may seek the same conversion and addition to our pueblos; . . .”


            - from Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza, Governor of New Mexico: Diary of his Expedition to the Moquis in 1780, with an introduction and notes by Ralph Twithcell, Historical Society of New Mexico, No. 21, Santa Fe, 1918 (Paper read before the Historical Society at its Annual Meeting, 1918), pp. 17, 19, 36, 41 & 42.   


Questions for teams:


  1. How did the Hopis of Oraibi receive Spaniards before the outbreak of the Pueblo Revolt of 1860?
  2. How did the Hopis of Oraibi treat the Spanish during the Pueblo Revolt of 1860?  
  3. In 1776, how did the Moquis of Oraibi initially react to the arrival of the Spanish priests? How did they receive them later after Don Juan Pedro Cisneros talked to them?
  4. What did the Hopis of Oraibi bring for the Spanish missionaries? What did they desire from the Spanish padres?
  5. When the Spanish padres tried to preach Christianity to the Moquis of Shongopovi, how did the Moquis conduct themselves? What does their behavior indicate?
  6. What was the problem of the Hopis of Walpi? What did the Spanish padre demand in exchange for their help?
  7. What is your opinion of the exchange that took place between the Moquis of Oraibi, Walpi, as well as Shongopovi and the Spanish missionaries? From your perspective, do you think that the demands of the missionaries to preach Christianity to Moquis were justified? Explain your answer.
  8. How did Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza induce Hopis to convert to Christianity and to settle in New Mexico?
  9. How did Hopis react to the Colonel’s offer of help?
  10. In your opinion, what are the similarities and differences between the efforts of the Spanish missionaries who traveled to the Moqui provinces in 1776 and those of Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza?  
  11. From the above paragraphs, how would you describe the relations between Hopis and the Spanish? Was their relationship based on equality? Explain you answer.


Assessment: You will be graded on the following for an individual grade. 

Notetaking ___

Role playing ____

Accurate information in script ____

Worked well with team members ____

Finished product_____




  1. Have the students form two groups and debate about the advantages of Hopi-Spanish relations, and vice-versa. This activity will help them to reinforce what they learned through other activities in class and to analyze issues from a critical perspective.


  1. Have students enact a drama dealing with the subject of Hopi-Spanish relations (with appropriate costumes). This act could either focus on the meetings between the Spanish missionaries and Hopis, or the arrival of the Spanish explorers in the Hopi lands. Students will find this activity engaging and it will help them to gain a better understanding of the history of Hopi-Spanish contacts.


  1. Students will do a short group presentation in class based on the information acquired through other activities.


  1. Teacher may have students read Truth is a Bright Star: A Hopi Adventure by Joan Price. Students may have an in-class discussion about the story. This discussion will help students to gain am in-depth understanding of Hopi-Spanish relations.



At the end of this lesson,


Ø      The class will be able to point out that while the Spanish were treated with respect and fear by the Hopis of Oraibi before the outbreak of the Pueblo Revolt of 1860, after the beginning of the Rebellion, they physically assaulted the Spanish priests during the rebellion, and destroyed Spanish buildings and churches.

Ø      The class will be able to list that the Hopis of Oraibi brought food items such as, beef mallow, baskets of flour, maize paperbread, and other kinds of food for the padres. They will be able to explain that the Hopis of Oraibi desired the friendship of the Spanish.


Ø       The students will able to explain that the Hopis of Walpi requested the Spanish help to fight against the attacks of Navajo Apaches and that in return for heir help, the Spanish priest demanded that they convert to Christianity.


Ø      The class will able to identify that the first contact between Hopis and the Spaniards was established in 1540. Moreover, they will be able to pinpoint the two main motivations behind the Spanish explorations, especially economic gains and religious conversion.


Ø      The students will able list at least two advantages and disadvantages of Hopi-Spanish contacts, specifically


-         introduction of new fruits, vegetables, and new animals (advantages) &

-         forced labor and religious conversion (disadvantages).


Ø      The class will be able to debate about the advantages of Hopi-Spanish relations, and vice-versa. This activity will help them to reinforce what they learned through other activities in class and to analyze issues from a critical perspective.


Ø      The students will be able to give a short group in-class presentations based on the information acquired through other activities.



            Bartlett, Katharine. “Spanish Contacts with the Hopi 1540-1823.” Museum Notes, Museum of Northern Arizona. Vol. 6, No:12, June 1934, pp. 55-60.


            Courlander, Harold. Hopi Voices: Recollections, Traditions, and Narratives of the Hopi Indians. Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press, 1982.


Ed. Monaghan, Jay. The Book of the American West. New York: Julian Messner Inc., 1963.


Rushforth, Scott & Steadman, Upham. A Hopi Social History. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992.   


Voth, H.R. The Traditions of the Hopi. Chicago, 1905. 


Whiting, Alfred F. “Hopi Indian Agriculture.” Museum Notes, Museum of Northern Arizona. Vol. 8, No:10, April 1936, pp. 51-54.


Wiget, Andrew O. “Truth and the Hopi: An Historiographic Study of Documented Oral Tradition concerning the coming of the Spanish.” Ethnohistory, 29(3): pp. 181-199, 1982.


This lesson correlates to the following Arizona Social Studies Standards

(Note: Historical research skills and analytical skills. These are to be learned and applied to the content standards for grades 6-8)

PO 1. constructing and interpreting graphs and charts using historical data

PO 2. constructing various timelines of key events, people, and periods of the historical era being studied

PO 3. framing questions that can be answered by historical study and research

PO 4. describing the difference between a primary source document and a secondary source document and the relationships between them

PO 5. assessing the credibility of primary and secondary sources and drawing sound conclusions from them

PO 6. analyzing a historical source and identifying the author’s main points, purpose, opinions versus facts, and what other authors say about the same topic

PO 7. examining different points of view on the same historical events and determining the context in which the statements were made, including the questions asked, the sources used, and the author’s perspectives

PO 8. recognizing the difference between cause and effect and a mere sequence of historical events