Message from Vernon Masayesva, Black Mesa Trust (2)

Report on Hisot Navoti Conference and Water Fair


For Immediate Publication
Contact: Vernon Masayesva (928) 734-9255

Black Mesa Trust holds Hisot Navoti Conference and Second Annual Water Fair

KYKOTSMOVI, (Ariz.), October 28, 2003—Black Mesa Trust Executive Director Vernon Masayesva opened the Trust’s Hisot Navoti (Ancient Knowledge) Conference on October 23 at the Hopi Memorial Veterans’ Center in Kykotsmovi with these words, “The next 50 years will determine whether we make the Earth strong and healthy again or whether we completely destroy it. That is why some of us are no longer hesitant to share our ancient knowledge with the world.”

He continued, “We pray this prayer: ‘Every living thing has a right to life. Let life forever continue.’ But every eight seconds a child dies from lack of clean water—is sacrificed to the inadequacies of Western science and ethics. It is time for indigenous peoples to take center stage and be part of the international dialog.”

Then, people from different cultures shared their thoughts, feelings, comments, and videos about water.

Japanese Dr. Masaru Emoto described on film his research on water, research that shows the form into which water crystallizes depends in part on the social, visual, linguistic and psychological environment to which it is exposed.

As part of the Conference, Dr. Emoto and his associates organized a global event to honor the life-sustaining waters of the Earth. At exactly noon, conference participants and guests in Kykotsmovi said the words, “Water, we love you. Water, we respect you. Water, we thank you.” The words were directed to samples of N-aquifer and Hopi spring water that were present throughout the event and that will be sent to Japan to be crystallized and photographed by Dr. Emoto.

Conference participants included a group of Water Clan people from Shungopavi who brought water from a natural spring to share, reviving an old custom of inviting everyone to drink from the same dipper and thus create a unity among the people.

An Aztecan Dance Group led by Helga Garcia-Garza came from San Benito, Texas where the Rio Grande flows into the Gulf of Mexico. “We came here because we respect and honor the work of Black Mesa Trust,” Ms. Garcia-Garza said. “We are also having a water crisis. The Rio Grande no longer reaches the Gulf of Mexico. The first time it happened we didn’t know what to think. The second time it was a shock. Then we began to fear for our future. We asked Vernon to come and offer prayers with us. Now we have come to offer prayers in our traditional form of dance.”

A film by Victor Masayesva, Jr., “Hopi Water Run,” and Toby McLeod’s documentary “In Light of Reverence” were screened.

A Tohono O’odham Nation Coyote Clan member described his tribe’s battle against a mining company’s proposal to use the tribe’s underground water in exchange for Central Arizona Project water.

Hopi Tribal Council Member Eugene Kaye presented the Hopi Water Team’s perspective on the N-aquifer issue. Both Black Mesa Trust and the Hopi Tribe are agreed on one point: Peabody pumping of the N-aquifer must stop. The disagreement is only about how to achieve that goal.

Manual Pina from Acoma recounted the struggle to get reparations for uranium miners, millers, and downwinders. “Our aquifer dried up because of the dewatering process used in mining uranium. Then the poisonous waste materials from the processing of the ore got into the streams that flow across our land.”

Black Mesa Trust President Leonard Selestewa described his farming heritage and what has been lost to Peabody Coal Company’s surface impoundments at the Black Mesa Mine. “It was indeed something to behold when Moencopi Wash ran from the Black Mesa Mine area in abundance. Half of the water came from springs in the sides of the canyon walls and half from rain water. Now the wash only runs six or eight months a year,” he said.

“ My father took a path in life that was a spiritual path. He told me, ‘We’re not just men. We are like Hopi Kachinas.’ My father is a very simple man. I want to be just like my dad. We watch the weather. There is a whole science behind Hopi farming. That science created a harmony between us and our environment. That is what science is.”

Jerry Honawa from Hotevilla offered a prayer at the beginning of the Conference and later he summed up the day most eloquently: “It has been a good day,” he said.

On the evening of the 23rd the Veterans Center was the setting for a Water Blessing Ceremony by the Aztecan Dance Group, a performance of Hopi dancing by Water Clan people, and drumming by the Robert Suqnevaha Group.

The next morning was slated for the educational Water Fair, and booths set up by Indian Health Service Engineers, the Hopi Tribe’s Department of Natural Resources, the Cultural Preservation Office, Wildflower Education Center, and the Sierra Club were well-attended by visitors and almost 200 school children.

Also, A Declaration on Water, which had been drafted the day before, was circulated and Mr. Masayesva outlined a vision for the Trust’s work over the next two years. The Trust’s goal—in addition to stopping Peabody pumping from the N-aquifer and to helping the elders and our ancestors in correcting a grave mistake—the original signing of the coal and water leases in the mid 1960s—is to confer with many other tribes and fashion an indigenous declaration on water, then to take that declaration to the Fifth World Forum on Water in Mexico City in March, 2006.

Renowned runner Bucky Preston offered to organize a run from Hopi to Mexico City and asked that people who wished to participate contact him immediately. “I invite all runners to prepare themselves,” he said. “I do this for my children. When our water is gone, they’re all gone. Water is who we are. I ask for your prayers and your strength.”

Jason Tanakewowma said, “Bucky uses his energy to carry messages. We are all runners, Anglos as well as Natives. I have commended all of you. I thank all of our people who started this program.”
Then the Water Fair focused on the Hopi Day School children who had just arrived. The children visited the exhibits while technicians got the Veterans Center ready for a benefit concert by Hopi Reggae artist Casper Lomayesva scheduled to begin in just a couple of hours.

Black Mesa Trust thanks all of the people who donated food and drinks for the events, including Zetta Masayesva, Denise Masayesva, Verna Masayesva, Esther Masayesva, Becky Masayesva, Loraine Monongye, Leora Honawa, Polly Jenkins, Marlene Sekaquaptewa, Delphina Melvin, Erlene Shelton, Leonard Selestewa, Joann Selestewa, Margaret Ahsona, Alice Sekaquaptewa, Marlene Joshevama, Virginia Nuvamsa, Thelma Honahnie, Susan Secakuku, Adrienne Masaquaptewa, Jason Tenakyouma, Marilyn Tewa, Loraine Sahu, and Ethelyn Secakuku.

The Black Mesa Trust Hisot Navoti Conference and Second Annual Water Fair were funded in part by the Christensen Fund and Oxfam America.

Other organizations supporting Black Mesa Trust efforts include Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, WaterKeeper Alliance, Environment Now, Grand Canyon Trust, Arizona Ethnobotanical Research Association, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Flagstaff Activist Network, Sacred Land Film Project, Earth Island Institute, Wild Angels, Seventh Generation and the law firms of Shearman & Sterling and Hagens-Berman.

Photo caption:

With incense, dance and stringed instruments, the Aztecan Dance Group performed a Water Blessing Ceremony for the waters of the N-aquifer and the springs on Black Mesa. The group’s leader, Helga Garcia-Garza explained the next day that the group used only stringed instruments, forgoing the culture’s traditional drums, flutes, and gourds. Thus they honored the ingenuity of their ancestors, who, when the Spanish forbade them to play their instruments invented a stringed instrument similar to the instruments used by the Spanish, thinking that the colonizers could not then object to their music. “We honor our elders who saved our religion,” said Ms. Garcia-Garza.

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