Black Mesa Trust Water Fair
04 October 2002
By Stan Bindell The Observer Kykotsmovi — Vernon Masayesva and Leonard Selestewa consider the first Black Mesa Trust’s Water Fair a success as members of the Hopi community and surrounding communities learned more about saving water.
More than 100 attended the gathering Sept. 20 at the Hopi Veterans Memorial Center. Zuni runners showed their support by running in from Zuni as they started running on Sept. 19 in order to get to the water fair on time.
Masayesva, executive director of the Black Mesa Trust, said the main intent of the event was educational awareness to show the importance of water. Masayesva, a former Hopi chairman, said water can be saved by improving the use of technology on plumbing, irrigation and by recycling water. He commended Indian Health Service for developing a better water recycling system in Kykotsmovi.
Masayesva said the Hopi Tribal Council should be more active in water preservation by adopting water codes with higher standards. He said schools can improve water preservation by adopting water curriculums. He also supports alternative energy sources. He said water pumping can be done by solar without the use of gas.
Masayesva said while the turnout was good that it would have been better, but Black Mesa Trust didn’t realize that many Hopi elementary schools were holding their Native American Day on this date. He said Black Mesa Trust will put a committee together to plan next year’s water fair. Selestewa, president of the Black Mesa Trust, said the water fair was a step in the right direction as it showed him that there are resources out there that can help save water. He said solar, wind and conservation must be put into practice on the Hopi Reservation.
“This was a good learning experience. People were in and out all day long,” he said. Selestewa said if Black Mesa Trust had not intervened that Peabody Coal Co. would have used more water from the N-aquifer — the main water source for the Hopi Reservation and a key water source for the Navajo Reservation.
“I believe the N-aquifer is collapsing. There is something structurally that is happening according to the Hopi Natural Resources (Division),” he said. Selestewa said Peabody Coal Co. is taking more water out of the aquifer than nature is putting in. He emphasized that he does not want to close Peabody down, but he does want the coal mining company to find another water source. “We’re looking at the end of a living, breathing aquifer,” he said. “The tribe needs to recognize that this isn’t only a threat, but that the aquifer has to be managed.” Selestewa said water should be piped in from the Little Colorado River. “This would be a major step toward saving our way of life,” he said. Selestewa said many say the mining operation is needed because of the money it has brought into the Hopi Reservation.
“But on the contrary, many Hopis will say that we were just fine before the mine. Sure, we were poor, but we had our own way of life,” he said. “We need alternatives to economic development. The mine will forever encroach on our homeland. There is a right and wrong way to mine. Peabody has been mining at will.” Selestewa noted that Peabody officials have stated that the amount of water they are using from the N-aquifer is comparable to using one-half cup out of a 55-gallon drum. Selestewa said this is not accurate.
“Our leaders have to decide our destiny. Will we have a homeland? When the aquifer dies, it’s forever,” he said. Selestewa said the Hopi way of life — especially ceremonies — evolves around rain and corn. He said the number one goal should be to save the aquifer.
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