In the Hopi Tribe no person owns land – the use of land (including residential or commercial potential) is passed down through matrilineal clans. Therefore, creating businesses that require financing is a significant hurdle. The system of governance poses unique challenges in the Hopi Villages but the Upper Village of Moenkopi is the only village that has a constitution that provides the legal foundation for self governance. There is a great diversity of opinion about commercial development within the population of Hopi with the primary concern being preservation of culture. These are challenges that the elders of the Upper Village of Moenkopi met in undertaking the very significant project of economic development for the village. The outcome is a testament to their wisdom and their respect for the traditional ways of the Hopi.
In 1981, the Hopi Tribe approved Resolution 11-97-81 incorporating the Moenkopi Developers Corporation, Inc. To date, two commercial parcels of land totaling 48 acres for a community development site has been approved by the Hopi Tribal Council. The Moenkopi Developers Corporation, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit Community Development Corporation (CDC) to manage site development and future commercial operations. MDC oversees the current business enterprises that have been developed on Upper Village land at the junction of US 160 and state route 264 and MDC has oversight of future development on this 48 acre parcel that has been designated for residential, commercial, and community use.