Homolovi, AZ: What’s in a Name?

Arizona could soon rename and reopen an existing state park.  It’s a protected area that already has a state park designation but operating under a different name.

Homolovi II is the largest of the sites at the park. It appears that each family unit occupied four to five rooms. Each room is relatively small, probably due to the scarcity of large logs. Photo courtesy Arizona State Parks

The Hopi Tribe recently entered into a one-year agreement with Arizona State Parks, contributing $175,000 for the operation of Homolovi Ruins State Park. The Arizona Parks Board reported that during initial negotiations in November, the Hopi Tribe requested the word “Ruins” be taken out of the park’s name.

To the Hopi, the word “Ruin” in the park name refers to ‘something dead.’ They would prefer “Ruin” be replaced with another word or removed.

The State Parks Board is open to any suggestions the public may have to offer about this name change and will discuss the matter at the March 17, 2011 public Board meeting in Winslow City Council Chambers.

Those with suggestions and comments on the name change may also send a message to the “Contact Us” tab at azstateparks.gov or write a letter to Arizona State Parks Public Information Office, 1300 West Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85007. All comments must be received by March 1, 2011.

Ancestral Hopi Villages

In the high grassland of 14th century northern Arizona, an ancient people found a home along the Little Colorado River. These people, the Hisat’sinom (known to archaeologists as the Anasazi), paused in their migrations to till the rich flood plain and sandy slopes before continuing north to join people already living on the mesas, people who are today known as the Hopi.

Hopi dancers perform for the public during Suvoyuki Days. Photo courtesy Arizona State Parks

The Hopi people of today still consider Homolovi, as well as other precolumbian sites in the southwest, to be part of their homeland. They continue to make pilgrimages to these sites, renewing the ties of the people with the land. The Hopi tell us that the broken pottery and stones are now part of the land and are the trail the Bahana will follow when he returns. Therefore, these are mute reminders that the Hopi continue to follow the true Hopi way and the instructions of Masau’u.

The years have brought many changes to Homolovi. The migrations ended when the people settled at the center of the world, the Hopi Mesas north of Homolovi. However, as new people appeared, such as the Diné (Navajo) and later the Europeans, the Hopi watched as their homeland was occupied by the new people.

In an effort to protect some of these sites, the Hopi people supported the idea of Homolovi Ruins State Park. This idea resulted in the establishment of the park in 1986 and the opening of the park in 1993.

Homolovi Ruins State Park now serves as a center of research for the late migration period of the Hopi from the 1200s to the late 1300s. While archaeologists study the sites and confer with the Hopi to unravel the history of Homolovi, Arizona State Parks provides the opportunity for visitors to visit the sites and use park facilities including a visitor center and museum, various trails, and a campground. Several covered picnic tables are located throughout the park. Pullouts provide the opportunity to observe wildlife in this park of over 4,000 acres at an elevation of 4,900 feet.

The Visitors Center also houses a gift shop that sells Hopi pottery and other handcrafted goods. Photo courtesy Arizona State Parks.

“Homolovi” is Hopi for “Place of the Little Hills”—the traditional name for Winslow, Arizona.

Park Re-Opening Celebration

The Hopi Tribe and Arizona State Parks invite the public to attend the Park Re-Opening Celebration on March 18, 2011. Gain insight into the cultural perspectives, lifestyle, language, celebrations, and history of the Hopi Tribe and learn about visitor etiquette on Hopi lands. Planned activities include lectures, pottery firing demonstrations, and traditional Hopi social dances. Take an archeological tour of pueblo ruins built by various prehistoric people, including ancestors of the Hopi people.

Enjoy learning from carvers, painters, jewelers, potters, and basket and textile weavers while hearing Hopi history through storytelling, music, and dancing, and enjoy interpretive exhibits.

This re-opening celebration is a co-operative effort of many organizations — Sumi’nangwa or “All together”.

On March 19, walking tours will be under the direction of and guided by Dr. Chuck Adams and Richard Lange, from the Arizona State Museum.

This event is part of Arizona Archaeology & Heritage Awareness Month.

Location and directions
Homolovi Ruins State Park is located 3 miles northeast of Winslow

Take I-40 to Exit 257, then travel 1.3 miles north on Highway 87

Worth Pondering…
For all of us have our loved places; all of us have laid claim to parts of the earth; and all of us, whether we know it or not, are in some measure the products of our sense of place.

—Alan Gussow

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