Hopi at the Heard- Piki Bread

marylou's grade one class on hopi reserveWe lived and taught for a year on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona. Here I am with my grade one students in 1990.  Because of that experience the many exhibits about the Hopi culture at the Heard Museum in Phoenix were of particular interest to me. One favorite treat that my Hopi students often brought to school for a snack was piki bread. They had some on display at the museum. 

piki bread on display at the heard musuem
I really liked piki bread . It had a slightly sweet taste and was so much lighter than bread. Once my students knew I enjoyed it they often brought piki bread to school for me.

Piki bread is made from blue corn. The corn is harvested and taken off the cob. 

grinding stones at the heard museumThe corn is ground into meal using a grinding stone like these I photographed in the courtyard of the Heard Museum.  I remember when we lived in Arizona one of the Hopi women let our sons who were ten and four try grinding the corn on one of these stones. It was hard work. 

The blue cornmeal is mixed with water and the burnt ashes of juniper trees. You can see the mixture in the bowl at the side of this photo. 

The Hopi women then use their bare hands to spread the mixture on a special baking stone that has a fire built beneath it.  I watched this process quite a number of times during my year on the Hopi Reservation and I could never understand how the women didn’t burn their fingers when they were spreading the cornmeal paste on the hot stone. They were soooooooooo fast!

The bread bakes quickly and once it starts to lift off the stone, the women roll it up. 

Hopi women have been making piki bread this way for hundreds of years. I don’t think you can buy it anywhere. I miss piki bread. It was delicious! It was nice to be reminded of piki bread on my visit to the Heard Museum in Phoenix. 

If you want to know more about piki bread check out this You Tube Video Making Piki Bread. 

If you liked this post you might also like………

Hopi at the Heard Museum- Pottery

Hopi at the Heard Museum- Dan Namingha

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Filed under Arizona, Culture, Food

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