The Hopi Indians, "Peaceful Ones", ancestry mainly traces back to the Anasazi who were the prehistoric inhabitants of the Four Corners. The Hopi nation totals approximately 8,500 and is surrounded by the Navajo reservation in northeastern Arizona. Their traditional homeland is located on three remote mesas in Northern Arizona. The old Oraibi pueblo was built before 1150 A.D. and is said to be the oldest continuously occupied village in the U.S.
Early Hopi Indian jewelry was made from Turquoise, stones, shell, wood and seeds. The first Hopi Indian to learn to silver smith was Sileyatala of Walpi, the First Mesa, around 1898 after visiting Zuni. Soon, Hopi Indian men from the second and third mesa were learning in the early 1900's. In the 1930's a distinctive style emerged known today as "overlay" silver jewelry.
In overlay, two sheets of silver are soldered together after cutting out designs in the top layer with the under layer visible which has been oxidized for contrast and textured with chisel marks or stamp work. A matte or satin finish is usually given to their silver jewelry using steel wool. Typically, no stones are used but the Hopi Indians do make Turquoise Jewelry as well.
The Hopi Indians are also known for their textile weaving done by men, coiled baskets done by women, Katsina carvings or Kachina carvings as well as their distinctive and unique style of Native American Indian jewelry.