HOPI, Ariz. - The Hopi Arts Trail is not a literal trail but a way for visitors to connect with artists along the Hopi mesas. Hopi based artists, galleries and tour guides have come together to increase economic opportunity and awareness of the arts on the Hopi Reservation.
The trail is a collaboration between the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Moenkopi Developers Corporation. The arts trail connects 12 Hopi villages and three mesas, which are each unique in their own way.
Program Manager James Surveyor said that with 50 percent unemployment on the Hopi Reservation, the arts trail is a reflection of Hopi culture.
"There aren't many jobs on the Hopi Reservation so a lot of people turn to arts and crafts and a lot of people in the Hopi Arts Trail are entrepreneurs, they have their own galleries. They are self-reliant and we want to encourage that and grow that," he said.
The program provides internet, website and marketing support to artists who would have a difficult time getting their work known in any other way. With the support of the Moenkopi Legacy Inn and Suites, the program helps artists connect with visitors.
Surveyor said the trail is a great program for tourists because they are able to engage with Hopi artists, galleries and tours on their own without having to worry about where to go or how to get there.
"In the past it has always been that the only way to really see Hopi and experience Hopi was to know a Hopi," Surveyor said. "Now there's a website and it's easier for people."
He adds that the arts trail is not a new idea but one that is long overdue. It has created an opportunity for visitors to ask simple questions about what areas are open to the public and whether people can visit certain villages.
"These artists, these doll carvers, these silver smiths, that is their livelihood so they want people to come out and visit," Surveyor said. "They are a great source of information."
The Arts Trail features basket weavers, doll carvers, potters, jewelers and silverworkers. A brochure offers discounts on merchandise or services to tourists who have a Hopi Art Passport. The passport features the participating artists and galleries with a map and contact information and is available on the Hopi Arts Trail website.
More information about the artists and how to get there can be found at www.hopiartstrail.com.