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 Yavapai 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 PuTavi. (PuTavi 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, PuTavi 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. PuTavi 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, PuTavi 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 the show yielded more than $100,000 for 56 Hopi artists and generated at least $2,000 in revenue for the nonprofit, PuTavi. 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.

PuTavi sponsored computer classes open to all native Hopi–adults and youth–to help them learn the skills needed to market their jewelry over the Internet. Thirty-five wives, husbands and children participated in these classes.

By focusing and developing their organizational skills through technical assistance, PuTavi members have been able to concentrate on their program efforts and not be overwhelmed by internal growth and development. PuTavi 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

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

Hopi Reservation Office

PO Box 1203

Keams Canyon, AZ 86034-1203

(928) 738-0018 office (928) 738-2360 fax