Victor Masayesva Jr. presented his film “Hopi Water Run,” that featured an event organized by Bucky Preston in support of Black Mesa Trust’s effort to save the N-aquifer from further pumping. It also depicted a 3.8 magnitude earthquake recorded by Northern Arizona University in 1988. Its epicenter was the Peabody well field tapping the N-aquifer.
Manual Pina, a member of the Acoma Pueblo of New Mexico, described the struggles to get reparations for uranium miners, millers and downwinders. He said most of the people owed federal compensation under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act are still waiting for their money.
“As Indian people, we are low priority, but let this country to go war and Congress will give money at the drop of a hat,” Pina said. “Iraq is a continuation of the genocide. They say that 9-11 was the first time Americans were ever attacked on their own soil. No one ever took into account what was done to Native Americans.”
The day ended with the Aztecan dance group’s water blessing ceremony, the Hopi Water Clan people’s dance performance and the Robert Suqnevaha Group’s drum performance.
The following day featured an educational Water Fair with educational booths from Indian Health Service Engineers, the Hopi Tribe’s Department of Natural Resources, the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, Wildflower Education Center, the Sierra Club and the Water Education for Teachers program of the University of Arizona in Tucson.
The Declaration on Water that had been drafted the day before was circulated, and Masayesva outlined a vision for the Trust’s work over the next two years. In addition to the work of shutting down the pumping of N-aquifer water for the purpose of coal slurry, the organization plans to confer with many other tribes in order to fashion an indigenous declaration on water to be presented to the Fifth World Forum on Water to be held in Mexico City in March 2006.
Bucky Preston, who is planning to run from Hopi to Mexico City in honor of the forum, asked that people who wished to participate contact him as preparations and training for the run must begin immediately. He also urged that those who make the commitment honor it.
“I invite all runners to prepare themselves,” Preston 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.”
Students from Navajo and Hopi Reservation schools who came to the Water Fair eagerly visited each display while technicians readied the Veterans Center for Hopi Reggae artist Casper Lomayesva’s benefit conference that evening.
Garza, who addressed the conference again on Friday, praised everyone present for their work, describing life in her community to punctuate the importance of water conservation.
“We are surviving off of recycled wastewater. If you still have that pure water, hang on to it,” she said. “In Brownsville, every day, you hear announcements to boil water for bacteria. It’s cheaper to buy soda than a jug of water.”
She praised the work of the Black Mesa Trust in raising global awareness of the value of water.
“Before we can find justice, we must find consciousness,” Garza said.
(Tanya Lee handles public relations for Black Mesa Trust on a freelance basis. S.J. Wilson is a regular contributor to the Observer.)