While the Hopi House, a spectacular rendition of Hopi architecture, seems a bit out of place surrounded by asphalt and cars, it was actually one of the first buildings to bring character and life to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon. The canyon’ s first curio shop is a short walk across the courtyard of the El Tovar Hotel on a ledge overlooking Rim Trail. Designed to preserve and display physical remnants of Native American culture, Hopi House provides guests with more than just brief respite from the canyon below.
The spirit of entrepreneurship was alive and kicking in the early 1900’s, with the Fred Harvey Company blazing tourism trails throughout the southwest. Harvey saw gold lining the edges of the canyon’s southern rim in the form of hotels and shopping. Originally designed as the showroom for Fred Harvey Indian Arts, the Hopi House embodies spirit of pueblo culture and brings visitors in close proximity to private and sacred aspects of Native Americans.
Once inside, architect Mary Jane Colter’s mastery of Native American culture comes to life in the mud plaster walls, corner fireplaces, Hopi murals and authentic artifacts. Employing Hopi masons, this replica of a pueblo found in Oraibi, Arizona made it possible to experience Hopi architecture in person during a period when travel to real pueblos was difficult. Opened in 1905, today Hopi House continues the tradition of providing access to the stunning art of many tribes. The main shopping area resides on the first floor, and offers a tempting array of authentic artwork and crafts. The second floor now houses a gallery, which includes works by relatives of Nampeyo, a famous potter who would give demonstrations at Hopi House during its early years.
One of the Mary Jane Colter National Historic Landmark buildings, Hopi House takes you on a walk through the Grand Canyon’s primitive past, touching upon the sacred rites, and visions of the tribes of yesterday and today. To wander through the rooms, and lay your hands on the cool plaster while looking up at the peeled log beams, the sense of peace and harmony of the native peoples will lift you up.