Jun 20th, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Arizona History Fascinates Seniors

Marshall Trimble is known as “Mr. Arizona” and why not. Author of twenty-one books on the history of the state, he has taught Arizona history at Scottsdale Community College for more than 35 years.  A recent edition called ‘Arizona: A Calvacade of History’ (Revised Edition @2003) is a best-seller and is one of the best I have read on the subject.  Whenever senior citizens in the Valley want to know anything about Arizona history, they say “Ask the Marshall.”


Trimble makes reference to Oraibi and notes that it is located on the Hopi mesas in Arizona. Founded sometime before the year 1100 AD,  Oraibi is reputed to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States.  That caught my eye.  Let’s take a closer look at Oraibi and the Hopi reservation.

Believed to have descended from the ancient Anasazi, the Hopi people have called the region home before the time of Christ. There are no accurate census counts or estimates for the village population. Archeologists speculate that a series of severe droughts in the late 13th century forced the Hopi to abandon several smaller villages in the region and consolidate within a few population centers. As Oraibi was one of these surviving settlements its population grew considerably, and became populous and the most influential of the Hopi settlements.  Old Oraibi is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

Each village is a separate entity

“The Hopi have a complicated, interwoven social structure.  LIke the city-states of ancient Greece, each village is a separate entity” writes Trimble. Today Oraibi is a ghost town.  By 1890 the village was estimated to have a population of 905, almost half of the 1,824 estimated to be living in all of the Hopi settlements at the time.

The Kiva

Kivas, underground ceremonial chambers, can seen in all the villages and are characterized by  long ladder-poles extending upward through a hole in the roof. The villagers’ lives centered around the kiva yet only the high priestly officials could go there. A message from the village elders tells much about the culture and the beliefs of the Hopi people.

Seniors Visit the Hopi Cultural Center

Located in Northern Arizona, the Hopi Reservation encompasses approximately 1.5 million acres. The three breathtaking mesas of Hopiland rise up 7,200 feet, offering panoramic views of the surrounding low-altitude desert.

InfoPlease has a series of additional links that emphasize the importance of basket weaving. Visitors prize the tightly woven Hopi fabric.  Jewelry rates high along with Hopi weaving.  They work primarily with sliver embossed with turquoise. A distinct characteristic of Hopi jewelry making is the use of a technique called Overlay.

A very private people

The Hopi tend to be very private people, though they do welcome senior visitors to their lands. Policies may vary from village to village and are often posted. All villages strictly prohibit such disturbing activities as photography, sketching, and recording. To respect the resident’s privacy, try to visit only between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and keep to the main streets and plazas. The village of Walpi asks that visitors enter only with an authorized Hopi guide. Walpi is the iconic village of the Hopi tribe and the mother village of eleven occupied Hopi settlements. Tours are available and it highly recommended that you take one of these tours while you are in Hopiland. Flickr has some great shots to show senior visitors what the area looks like.

So print off this map, tuck it above your visor and head off to see one of Arizona’s cultural landmarks and settlements. jeb

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  1. […] is a small gem of a town (a veritable Shangri-La) on the National Register of Historic Places. Senior visitors can easily spend a day just strolling around, visiting art galleries, museums and […]

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