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The sipapu is the small round hole in the floor of the kiva ruin. The larger round hole in the floor is a fire pit. Observe that the air intake (little rectangular door in the wall), the stones that block air from the air intake, the fire pit and the sipapu are all in a line; this aspect of the design was intentional. Photo taken at Long House, Mesa Verde National Park.

Sipapu is a Hopi word for a small hole or indentation in the floor of a kiva or pithouse. Kivas were used by the Ancestral Puebloans and continue to be used by modern-day Puebloans. The sipapu symbolizes the portal through which their ancient ancestors first emerged to enter the present world.[1]

Hopi mythology (and similar traditions in other Pueblo cultures such as the Zuni and Acoma) states that this is the hole from which the first peoples of this world entered. As they stepped outside of the sipapu, they changed from lizard-like beings into Homo sapiens, or human form (See Waters, 1963, and later reprints; Courlander, 1971). It is from this point that the "First Peoples" of the Earth began to divide and separate, creating differing tribes along the first journeys of the first humans. The original sipapu is said to be located in the Grand Canyon.


  1. ^ Wenger, Gilbert R. (1991) [1980]. The Story of Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado: Mesa Verde Museum Association. ISBN 0-937062-15-4.

See also[edit]

  • Waters, F. (1963). "Book of the Hopis". New York: Penguin Group.
  • Courlander, H. (1971). "The Fourth World of the Hopis." Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press.
  • Sando, Joe S. (1982) The Pueblo Indians. San Francisco: Indian Historian Press