HOPI

For thousands of years the Hopi tribe has been fostering resilience in their homelands of Northern Arizona. They are considered “the world’s best dry farmers” and have subsisted using agricultural conservation techniques that predate western science. Time-honed agricultural practices of the Hopi have naturally cultivated over forty unique corn varieties that are well-suited to harsh semi-arid environments. These drought resistant varieties are able to produce abundant harvests without external inputs even when rainfall is minimal. This segment of INHABITANTS provides a unique look into what makes Hopi farming truly “sustainable” and how taking an indigenous perspective can benefit future agricultural development.   

“Biodiversity is resilience”. Here are 7 unique varieties of Hopi corn that Michael is planting in his fields this year. Selective methods of saving seeds over time has naturally engineered over 21 types of drought resistant corn that allow Hopi farmers to grow plentiful food in the high desert plains of Arizona which receive low rainfall, without irrigation or inputs!

“Biodiversity is resilience”. Here are 7 unique varieties of Hopi corn that Michael is planting in his fields this year. Selective methods of saving seeds over time has naturally engineered over 21 types of drought resistant corn that allow Hopi farmers to grow plentiful food in the high desert plains of Arizona which receive low rainfall, without irrigation or inputs!

Extended droughts, soil erosion, extreme heat events and dwindling water supplies are challenging food production worldwide. The adverse effects of climate change will be further compounded in the coming decades. One of the conventional western approach for coping with climate change has been to introduce Genetically Modified (GM) crops containing genetic material that has been artificially altered. Widespread use of GM pest resistant crops exacerbates environmental challenges by negatively impacting biodiversity, including insect herbivores and natural enemies, and soil microbiota.

Alternative approaches and corrective measures can be informed by Hopi wisdom-

“We have been planting our crops in a similar fashion for over 2,000 years. With the Hopi, corn is raised to fit the environment; unlike GMO based corn, which tries to make the environment fit the corn” - Dr. Michael Kotutwa Johnson

On this early morning Michael was happy to warm up his little tractor to plant his fields and raise new generations of Hopi corn as his ancestors have done for millennia before him. His dog Toki is always close by as a helper.

On this early morning Michael was happy to warm up his little tractor to plant his fields and raise new generations of Hopi corn as his ancestors have done for millennia before him. His dog Toki is always close by as a helper.

Here is Michael Kotutwa Johnson after a successful PhD Dissertation defense- “Attributes of Hopi Agriculture: Barriers, Best-Practices, Policy and Outreach” He is now officially Dr. Johnson! Congrats!

Here is Michael Kotutwa Johnson after a successful PhD Dissertation defense- “Attributes of Hopi Agriculture: Barriers, Best-Practices, Policy and Outreach” He is now officially Dr. Johnson! Congrats!

Documentation of sacred Hopi field preparation, planting, harvesting and eventual use will take place with traditional Hopi Farmer Michael Kotutwa Johnson. Michael will focus on the agricultural conservation techniques of his ancestors and current his work devoted to preserving these sacred traditions. Filming the sacred corn ceremonies will involve traveling to Hopi in April and October 2019. Michael shows how the indigenous breeding of seed genetics passed down for generations plays a crucial role for a sustainable future in North America.

It is an absolute honor to spend the week here at Dr. Michael Kotutwa Johnson’s Hopi House. He built his stunning home by hand in a traditional style with sandstone blocks in varying sizes. Interior walls are plastered with adobe and finished with a naturally died white washed mud. Fireplaces, corn grinding stones, a loom and large corn storage facility are all incorporated into the dwelling’s design. It’s nested into the landscape in the valley beneath the Mesa in a truly magnificent spot.

It is an absolute honor to spend the week here at Dr. Michael Kotutwa Johnson’s Hopi House. He built his stunning home by hand in a traditional style with sandstone blocks in varying sizes. Interior walls are plastered with adobe and finished with a naturally died white washed mud. Fireplaces, corn grinding stones, a loom and large corn storage facility are all incorporated into the dwelling’s design. It’s nested into the landscape in the valley beneath the Mesa in a truly magnificent spot.

“Home is where the heart is and mine is with my fields family and friends” - Dr. Michael Kotutwa Johnson is seen here clearing the weeds in his fields. His home is perched so that he can always keep a watchful eye on his corn.

“Home is where the heart is and mine is with my fields family and friends” - Dr. Michael Kotutwa Johnson is seen here clearing the weeds in his fields. His home is perched so that he can always keep a watchful eye on his corn.