Each pictogram in this Hopi petition of 1894 represents a family, and every family in the tribe signed the document.
This Hopi petition is on display as part of “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures.” See the exhibit before it closes on January 5: http://go.usa.gov/6VdQ
Seeking an answer from the Federal Government, the entire Hopi tribe in the Arizona Territory petitioned Congress asking that the tribe be given land collectively, rather than making allotments to individuals as mandated by the Dawes Act:
The Hopi lived in the arid desert and farmed communally to survive. The allotment process would sell off “excess” lands, reducing the overall acreage the tribe needed to survive. Also, the Hopi were a matrilineal society, meaning they traced ancestry through the mother. They were fearful that the allotment process would eventually end their way of life, and that women would not have control of their own homes.
They wrote: “During the last two years strangers have looked over our land with spyglasses and made marks upon it, and we know but little of what this means.”
The Government never formally responded to the petition, and the Hopi’s lands were never allotted. An annual report from the Indian commissioner recommended that the Hopis be allowed to continue their custom, stating, “it is believed that the best interests of the tribe would be promoted by granting the petition.”