When people first emerged into this Fourth World, they asked Maasaw (the Earth Guardian) if they could live here. Maasaw offered a bag of seeds, a water gourd, and a planting stick, and explained that the people’s way in the Fourth World would be hard, but that the his way would provide a long and good life. Therefore, the ethic of self-sufficiency became the root of the present day Hopi people.
The Hopi trace their history back thousands of years, making them one of the oldest living cultures in the world. Hopi are a diverse people; the ancestoral Hopis, Hisatsinom (people of long ago), are known as the “Anasazi,” “Hohokam,” “Sinagua,” “Mogollon,” and other prehistoric cultural groups of the American Southwest. Some of the Hopi villages are among the oldest continuously occupied settlements in the North American continent. The remoteness and expanse of Hopitutskwa (Hopi land) has isolated the Hopi people from the outside world and has helped to preserve the culture.
Today, Hopi is a vibrant, living culture. The Hopi people continue to perform their ceremonial and traditional responsibilities through an ancient language. The Hopi are deeply religious people living by the ethic of the Hopi Way, Maasaw's Way through peace and goodwill, spiritual knowledge, adherence to religious practices, and responsibility as Earth stewards. The Hopi culture places great value on family cohesion, stability and generosity, humility and respect, a work ethic of self-reliance, and valuing and honoring the needs of the entire community. In Hopi culture, giving isn't charity. Giving and helping are embedded in spiritual and cultural ceremonies, as well as the normal routine of daily life. The Hopi people share with others because it helps to make the community stronger. The cornerstone of the Hopi Way is an initial idea, a ritual plan, and a prayer for success.
Among the Hopi, to give (maqa) has been at the heart of our society and social compact since time immemorial. The honor of giving means respecting and honoring both the giver and the recipient. In Hopi culture, giving is reciprocal, binding individuals and groups to each other and the spiritual realm. Work is a gift based on kinship and gender. Hopi people build their homes with sumi'nangwa, all together, and nami'nangwa, mutual concern for others welfare. The very cornerstone of Hopi society is the exchange of mutually beneficial gifts, and relationships reconfigured by those exchanges. Gifts are communications in a language of social belonging.