See M. Titiev, Old Oraibi: A Study of the Hopi Indians of the Third Mesa (1944, repr. 1967).
Oraibi, also referred to as Old Oraibi, is a Hopi village in Navajo County, Arizona, United States, in the northeastern part of the state. Known as Orayvi by the native inhabitants, it is located on Third Mesa on the Hopi Reservation near Kykotsmovi Village. There are no accurate census counts or estimates for the village population.
Oraibi remained unknown to European explorers until about 1540 when Spanish explorer Don Pedro de Tovar (who was part of the Coronado expedition) encountered the Hopi while searching for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. Contact with the Europeans remained scant until 1629 when the San Francisco mission was established in the village. In 1680 the Pueblo Revolt resulted in decreased Spanish influence in the area and the cessation of the mission. Subsequent attempts to reestablish the missions in Hopi villages were met with repeated failures. The former mission is still visible today as a ruin.
Interaction with the US government increased with the establishment of the Hopi reservation in 1882. This led to a number of changes for the Hopi way of life. Missionary efforts intensified and Hopi children were made to attend school, exposing them to new cultural influences.
In 1890 a number of residents more receptive to the cultural influences moved closer to the trading post to establish Kykotsmovi Village, sometimes called New Oraibi. The continuing tension caused by the ideological schism between the "friendlies", those who were open to these cultural influences, and the "hostiles" who opposed them led to an event called the Oraibi Split in 1906. Tribal leaders on differing sides of the schism engaged in a bloodless competition to determine the outcome, which resulted in the expulsion of the hostiles, who left to found the village of Hotevilla. Subsequent efforts by the displaced residents to reintegrate resulted in an additional split, with the second group founding Bacavi.
With the loss of much of its population Oraibi lost its place as the center of Hopi culture. Although the Hopi tribal constitution, adopted in 1939, provides each village with a seat on the tribal council, Oraibi has declined to elect a representative and maintains relative independence from the tribal council. Kykotsmovi Village is now the seat of the Hopi tribal government.
In spite of the "friendly" outcome of the Oraibi Split, Old Oraibi has since maintained a more traditional Hopi way of life and has resisted the adoption of the more modern culture visible in Kykotsmovi. While visitors to the pueblo are welcomed, the residents tend to be very private and do not allow photographs to be taken in the town, and thus there are no reliable photographs of the settlement as it exists in the modern day.
Oraibi features prominently in a famous writing by Aby Warburg, "Das Schlangenritual. Ein Reisebericht. Mit einem Nachwort von Ulrich Raulff. Berlin 1988", which is the transcript of a conference given in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland in 1923 (English translation in the book "Images from the Region of the Pueblo Indians of North America"; also translated in many other languages). Warburg visited Oraibi in 1896 and attended the ritual dances of the Hopi. He found in the symbolism of the Hopi (in particular the snake symbol) a key to understanding similar symbols in other cultures. Warburg took several pictures of Oraibi and of the Hopi ceremonies.