Community-Building on the Hopi Reservation

Support Increased Economic Opportunities and Improved Quality of Life in Rural America
Research Year: 

Community building is the process of developing the capacity of local people to examine resources, identify a community vision and take culturally sensitive action to create meaningful change. Extension’s role is to provide asset-based training and services for community based organizations that have limited resources to pay for the technical services that can increase internal capacities. This support allows communities such as those on the Hopi reservation to focus on economic and cultural survival.

Description of Action: 

In a cross-county collaborative effort, Arizona Cooperative Extension faculty from Coconino and Navajo counties conducted community building workshops with members of the Hopi Tribe in Mishongnovi to help them develop a strategic plan for responding to village needs. Cooperative Extension has been involved with the Innovation Center for Community and Youth Development there since 1999. Extension's technical assistance and mentoring support with the Hopi eventually grew into the development of a Hopi-run nonprofit organization known as Hopi Pu’tavi Project, Inc. (Pu’tavi means one path. ) Although the Hopi began this as a capacity-building effort for a single village, it has now grown to include 13 villages. As one of only two nonprofit organizations on the reservation, Pu’Tavi promotes learning, training and business opportunities for the Hopi people on the reservation, youth in particular. The intention is to provide options that will keep Hopis close to home. The group sponsors activities on the reservation that will enhance the Hopi culture and lifestyle.

Over the last few years Arizona Cooperative Extension has facilitated guided dialogue among community members to promote their targeted actions. Capacity building training included sessions on strategic planning, program evaluation, overcoming barriers, gaining community support, and resource and board development. While part of the work was structured, an equal portion of the technical assistance occurred naturally, and included encouragement, local problem solving and story telling.

Cooperative Extension is also using the same intentional community action techniques to train local indigenous leaders on the Navajo reservation to be facilitators in community discussions. These leaders are being mentored as facilitators, helping each other in honing their skills in promoting native community dialogue and action. They identify pressing community issues to work on, such as reducing family violence. The facilitators are also mentoring young facilitators who can take action and convene groups.


PuTavi members have focused on enhancing the Hopi silversmith industry. Activities have included training to increase hands-on silversmithing techniques, workshops on improving computer skills to market products on the Internet, and the creation of affordable venues for sales of authentic Hopi arts.

Pu’Tavi sponsored a workshop led by a well-known Hopi artist who saw a need to improve the silversmith skills of artisans on Hopi. Because silversmiths living on Hopi often cannot afford gallery show entry fees, Pu’tavi initiated the Tuhisma show, held in October for local artisans to show their wares on the reservation where tourists can buy them. Their goal is to encourage Hopi artisans–especially youth–to participate. Last year was the Fourth Annual Tuhisma Hopi Arts & Crafts Market to be held on the Hopi Reservation. Sixty-five Hopi artists participated in the show. More than $100,00 worth of sales is estimated to have occurred during the two day show. Additionally, an informal crafts market took place at the Hopi Cultual Center with about 50 artists selling next to the parking lot. The Hopi Quilting Guild at Bacavi organized their First Show to coincide with the Tuhisma Show. Hopi Pu’tavi generated a profit of $2,500 after the show finished to be used for the 5th Annual Show in 2005. One artisan estimates that each of the artisans saved at least $1,000 by having a local show, rather than traveling to juried shows off-reservation. Pu'tavi sponsors computer classes open to all native Hopi adults and youth to help them learn the skills needed to market their jewelry over the Internet. Mainly adults with little or no experience have participated in these classes. The organization also completed a survey of Hopi farmers with a $35,000 Community Food Security grant from USDA. Seventy-seven Hopi farmers where interviewed for the survey.

By focusing and developing their organizational skills through technical assistance, Pu’tavi members have been able to concentrate on their program efforts and not be overwhelmed by internal growth and development. Pu’tavi is seen as a flexible, responsive and unifying effort to meet multi-village needs, free of clan or village tensions. This nonprofit organization has been able to develop outreach strategies to get things done.

Funding Agencies: 

Innovation Center for Community and Youth Development, formerly a division of National 4-H Council; Fundraisers for So’oh’s Tunatya and Tuhisma; Grants from Arizona Commission on the Arts, Arizona Community Foundation, USDA

Conact Name: 
Matt Livingston
Contact E-mail: 
Contact Address: 

Hopi Reservation Office

PO Box 1203

Keams Canyon, AZ 86034-1203

(928) 734-3708 office (928) 734-3609 fax