Tools of the Hopi Tribe

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The Hopi tribe came to prominence in Northern Arizona around 600 years ago. They survived by making various tools from the region's rock quarries, such as sandstone, greenstone, chert and quartz. Tools such as arrowheads for hunting and battle, knives for cutting hides and meat, and hoes for cultivating and harvesting agriculture were all carefully made to serve the Hopi people.

1 Arrowheads

The Hopi relied on arrowheads for hunting and battle. These tools were made from local stone materials, such as tan and black chert and quartz, and occasionally from imported obsidian, which is volcanic rock found to the north in Washington state. The Hopi chipped these arrowheads using antlers and other small stones, forming them into bifaced heads 1.5 inches long and 1 inch wide. The base of the arrowhead was concave to allow them to be attached to arrow shafts using animal ligaments or leather straps.

2 Knives

The Hopi made stone knives for cutting and carving. These tools were made from chert, quartz and imported obsidian, which held a much sharper edge. The knife blade was 4 inches long and 2 inches wide, much like modern-day knives. The base of the knife was concave so that a wooden knife handle could be attached for easy handling. These tools could be kept in a leather pouch on one's side or carried in the Hopi rucksack.

3 Hoes

By the beginning of the 16th century, the Hopi relied heavily on agriculture for subsistence. Consequently, the hoe was a valuable tool used by the Hopi for cultivating and harvesting crop lands. The Hopi hoe was very similar to the modern hoe. The hoe head was 5 inches wide, 4 inches deep and 2 inches thick. It was made from sandstone, which could withstand constant pounding. The hoe head was affixed to the end of an ash handle that was 4 to 5 feet long and 2 inches in diameter. The ash wood was hard and durable but lightweight.

4 Adz

The adz was a tool that the Hopi used to hew out canoes from logs. The Hopi used canoes for river transport of crop goods for exchange, as well as for various travels down and up stream. It was necessary to remove as much wood as possible from the core of these canoes to make them buoyant. The adz was made by placing a sharpened chert stone on the end of an ash handle. The chert was 5 inches long and 3 inches wide, which allowed for easy wood carving.

  • 1 "The Hopi"; Nancy Bonvillain; 2004
  • 2 "The American Indian: Past and Present"; Roger L. Nichols; 2008
  • 3 "A Companion to American Indian History"; Philip Joseph Deloria and Neal Salisbury; 2004

Billy McCarley has been freelancing online since April 2009. He has published poetry for Dead Mule, an online literary publication, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University Of Alabama where he is also a first-year graduate student in history.