North American Indian people constituting the westernmost group of Pueblo Indians. Most live on reservation lands in northeastern Arizona, U.S., surrounded by the Navajo Reservation. The name Hopi means peaceful ones. They speak a language of the Uto-Aztecan stock. Most of their traditional settlements were on high mesas and consisted of terraced pueblo structures of stone and adobe. Their precise origin is unknown, though they are usually considered descendants of the Ancestral Pueblo (Anasazi) peoples. Before the Spanish colonization of the Southwest, the Hopi supported themselves by growing corn (maize), beans, squash, and melons; sheepherding was added after contact with the Spanish. Matrilineal descent was the rule. Traditional Hopi life was steeped in religious ceremony and involved secret rites held in semi-underground kivas and the use of masks and costumes to impersonate kachinas (ancestral spirits). Early 21st-century population estimates indicated more than 15,000 individuals of Hopi descent.