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The Awatovi Ruins are an archaeological site on the Hopi Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona, United States. The site contains the ruins of a pueblo estimated to be 500 years old, as well as those of a 17th-century Spanish mission. It was visited in the 16th century by members of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado's exploratory expedition. In the 1930s, Hopi artist Fred Kabotie was commissioned by the Peabody Museum to reproduce the prehistoric murals found during the excavation of the Awatovi Ruins.[3] The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

Awatovi Ruins
Awatovi Ruins.jpg
Scene at the ruins in 1937
Awatovi Ruins is located in Arizona
Awatovi Ruins
Awatovi Ruins is located in the United States
Awatovi Ruins
LocationHopi Indian Reservation, Navajo County, Arizona, USA
Nearest cityKeams Canyon, Arizona
Coordinates35°43′7″N 110°16′37″W / 35.71861°N 110.27694°W / 35.71861; -110.27694Coordinates: 35°43′7″N 110°16′37″W / 35.71861°N 110.27694°W / 35.71861; -110.27694
NRHP reference #66000187
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHLJuly 19, 1964[2]
Awatovi mural, Test 14 Room 2. Restoration from the Peabody Museum excavations, likely by Fred Kabotie.

The site has been studied, and now even the campsite of the archeologists is itself of archeological interest: the Awatovi Expedition of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology of Harvard University campsite is itself deemed an archeological site worthy of further study.[4]

Pre-European historyEdit

Awatovi was founded sometime after 1300, according to ceramics recovered from the archaeological excavations of Awatovi. It quickly grew to be the largest and most important village within the Hopi area.[5] It housed members of the Bow Clan and was the largest of the villages on Antelope Mesa. There is some archaeological evidence to suggest that while modern Hopis claim ancestry with the Jeddito Phase sites, including Awatovi, these Jeddito villages may not have been Hopi.[6][7]

European contactEdit

Awatovi was the first of the Hopi villages to be visited and conquered by the Spanish. In the early 16th century AD, Awatovi was one of the largest and most important of the villages. It had already been in existence for about 450 years. The first European visitor, in 1540, was Pedro de Tovar, dispatched by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado to the Hopi villages a week after the capture of Hawikuh. A skirmish occurred when de Tovar arrived, but the inhabitants quickly sued for peace and offered presents of cloth, skins, turquoise, and maize. The five remaining Hopi pueblos then offered fealty to the King of Spain.[8]

The Spanish did not visit Hopi again until 1583, when the Antonio de Espejo expedition spent several days at the Hopi villages before turning southwest to the Verde Valley. Juan de Oñate, in 1598, found the Hopis ready to capitulate formally to the King of Spain. Oñate visited the pueblos again in 1605, and Captain Gerónimo Marquez in 1614, but not until 1629 did the Spanish make any substantial missionary effort among the Hopis.[8] This same year the Spanish friars built the mission of San Bernardo de Aguatubi over the main kiva at Awatovi, following the practice of "supremacy" where the church would be built over the most important site of the heathen religion.[9] The documentary record indicates abusive behavior by priests at Awatovi in the 1650s.[10] In 1656, a young Hopi man by the name of Juan Suñi was sent to Santa Fe as an indentured servant because he impersonated the resident priest at Awatovi, an act believed to have been carried out in the spirit of Hopi clowning.[11]

During the Pueblo Revolt, the Hopis razed the church at Awatovi and killed the priests operating at the other Hopi villages.[12] The Hopis expected reprisals for participating in the 1680 rebellion, but none came. When Diego de Vargas, the reconqueror, arrived in 1692, the Hopis apparently reswore their allegiance to Spain, and he departed without incident.[8][12] Not long afterward, the Spaniards rebuilt the mission of San Bernardo de Aguatubi.[12]

In 1700, tensions began to grow in the pueblo of Awatovi between the converted Hopis and traditionalists. By the end of 1700, the extreme hostility of most Hopis to Christian converts at Awatovi led to the destruction of the pueblo. The attackers killed all the men at Awatovi, and scattered the women and children among the other villages. The site was never reoccupied. [5][8]

History after abandonmentEdit

Important early work at Awatovi was reported by Jesse Walter Fewkes in 1893–95. Extensive archeological excavations were conducted at Awatovi by J. O. Brew of the Peabody Museum in the 1930s. Brew's extensive artifact collections and archives are held at the Peabody Museum. Most of his excavations have been backfilled.[13]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  2. ^ "Awatovi Ruins". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-27.
  3. ^ "Fred Kabotie biography". AskArt.
  4. ^ Sally Ann Dean; Helene R. Dunbar (August 24, 1990). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Awatovi Ruin". Retrieved May 28, 2018. (with location information redacted)
  5. ^ a b Malotki, Ekkehart. 2002. Hopi Tales of Destruction. Bison Books. pp. 230
  6. ^ Hargrave, Lyndon. The Jeddito Valley and the First Pueblo Towns in Arizona to Be Visited By Europeans (Museum Notes, Museum of Northern Arizona, Volume 8, No. 4, October 1935)
  7. ^ Parsons, Elise. 1936. Early Relations between Hopi and Keres. American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 38, No. 4. pp. 554-560
  8. ^ a b c d History of Awatovi. This section incorporates public domain text from this US government website.
  9. ^ Watson Smith, Kiva Mural Decorations at Awatovi and Kawaika-a, with a Survey of Other Wall Paintings in the Pueblo Southwest, Papers of the Peabody Museum, 2006 reprint ISBN 978-0-87365-126-4
  10. ^ Sheridan, Thomas E, Stewart Koyiyumptewa, Anton Daughters, Dale S. Brenneman, T.J. Ferguson, Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, and Lee Wayne Lomayestewa, editors. Moquis and Kastiilam: Hopis, Spaniards, and the Trauma of History, Volume I, 1540-1679. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2015
  11. ^ Daughters, Anton. "A Seventeenth Century Instance of Hopi Clowning? The Trial of Juan Suni, 1659." Kiva Vol. 74, No.4, Summer 2009
  12. ^ a b c Roberts, David. 2005. The Pueblo Revolt; the secret rebellion that drove the Spaniards out of the Southwest. Simon and Schuster. pp. 288
  13. ^ Awatovi Ruins NHL

Further readingEdit

  • Watson Smith, Kiva Mural Decorations at Awatovi and Kawaika-a, with a Survey of Other Wall Paintings in the Pueblo Southwest, Papers of the Peabody Museum, 2006 reprint ISBN 978-0-87365-126-4
  • Hester A. Davis,Remembering Awatovi: The Story of an Archaeological Expedition in Northern Arizona, 1935-1939, Peabody Museum Monographs. 2008 reprint ISBN 978-0-87365-911-6

External linksEdit