Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Sat, Sept. 19

Black Mesa Trust Confident Of Victory Over Use Of Black Mesa Water By Peabody Energy

Flagstaff, Ariz. - Vernon Masayesva is confident that the battle for Black Mesa water will be won. As director of Black Mesa Trust and a traditional Hopi farmer, Mr. Masayesva has been instrumental in the fight to stop the use of N-aquifer water by Peabody Energy for slurrying coal from its Black Mesa Mine to Nevada’s Mohave Generation Station. Northern Arizona University students have joined the battle by forming the Black Mesa Water Coalition. Mr. Masayesva recently spoke to the officers of the coalition about his vision for the future.

“From the beginning the Hopi people were told that everything one needs for survival can be found at Black Mesa. It is true. Water is energy and life. Coal is energy. We have our drought-resistant corn. There is more plant diversity, geological diversity, and indigenous language diversity here than anywhere else in the United States.”

In this context, Mr. Masayesva believes the NAU holds a special place in the world of learning. “There is great potential for a university in such an incredible place. Here is a potential world-class university in a unique setting. Some people may look at NAU as just one more university. But I see the Colorado Plateau as a learning plaza where people from many institutions, cultures and lands come together.” More than that, Mr. Masayesva envisions the university as a learning institution poised on the edge of creation: It is from the Colorado Plateau that tribes of this region tell us life emerged.

The Hopi people, said Mr. Masayesva, believe that we as human beings are living in the Fourth World. So it is important, he challenged the students, to work on a whole new curriculum that teaches how to be good stewards of the land. Such a course of study, rooted in indigenous knowledge and Western science both, would include more than just classes on environmental law. “These classes teach our Indian people how to work within the law, how to work the law, but that is not enough. I’m talking about something more.” His vision is nothing less than a curriculum about how to create the Fifth World. “This region is where it all started, and this is the place from which we will all journey on.”

What of the future? “Our elders have told us that we might reach a world where we won’t pay for anything, that we will live in a ‘moneyless world.’ I often asked myself, ‘What is that?’ The question should challenge us. “I truly believe,” Mr. Masayesva continued, “that Black Mesa, which is shaped like a handprint, is the center of the universe. Our name for this land, ‘Duwanasavi,’ is literally translated ‘Earth Center.’ We were placed here not by coincidence but by design. “We will win our campaign to save water,” he told the students. “But without a vision beyond that, we could become stagnant. We need to envision a new world, the Fifth World, and not be afraid to take on the challenges.”

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