Status of the Hopi Language

Hopi elders, who are fluent Hopi speakers, say that the language is the root of perpetuating Hopi culture (Mesa Media, 2005). Hopi fluency began to decline during the era when children were forced into local mission and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) boarding schools. With language decline, Hopi people also experienced a loss of cultural identity. Many Hopi people who attended boarding schools in the 1940s-60s now find it difficult to teach their children and grandchildren to speak Hopi because they do not speak the language themselves.
There are few learning materials that help those who are interested in speaking the Hopi language. The1998 language survey of 200 Hopi people reflects the current state of the Hopi language: 100% of Hopi elders (60 years or older) are fluent, while fluency in adults (age 40-59) is only 84%, 50% in young adults (age 20-39), and 5% in children (age 2-19) (HCPO, 1998). Projecting these statistics out five years shows that within 1-2 generations the Hopi language will be completely lost unless young adults and children begin to learn, speak, and practice their language. Mesa Media’s goal is to change this pattern.
In a 1998 survey, the Hopi tribe reported that less than 50% of young adults under 40 years speak Hopi and less than 5% of Hopi children under 19 years speak Hopi.
Mesa Media produces learning materials in the Hopi language by Hopi people for Hopi people. Concepts for CD’s, DVD’s and books come directly from traditional Hopi perspectives on dry farming, food, animals, colors, and cardinal directions. Teaching the Hopi language is most effective when learners start at a young age. Most Hopi words and phrases are linked to cultural activities, such as planting food crops.

For further reading on this topic we suggest the following artice: Hinton article

Listen to an interview with Anita Poleahla and learn the history of Hopi language loss and revival. The interview was recorded at KUYI 88.1 FM Hopi Radio Studios © KUYI 88.1 FM 2009 Used by permission. (928) 738-5505


Hopi Cultural Preservation Office (HCPO). 1998. Hopi Language Education and Preservation Plan. Kykotsmovi, Arizona.

Within 1-2 generations the Hopi language will be completely lost unless young adults and children practice their language