POLACCA -- Brianna Puhuyesva, a sophomore at Hopi High School, said she will join the Hopi runners who are running from Hopi to Mexico.
About 25 Hopis and Tewas will run from the reservation to Mexico from March 3-15 to raise awareness about water issues.
The runners will take about two weeks to run the 2,000 miles or about 150 miles per day. The journey will go through the states of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas before finding its way into Mexico.
Puhuyesva said she joined the group because she wants to address what's going on in the world today. She ran cross country in junior high school and runs for the Hopi High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (Junior ROTC) Raider exercise team.
But Puhuyesva is more concerned about protecting water from pollution.
"I want to save water, especially on Hopi," she said. Puhuyesva, who maintains a B-average, is glad that Peabody closed down.
"We need to make sure that Hopi water is protected," she said.
She is the daughter of LaDora and Arvin Puhuyesva of Mishongnovi.
Water and running is a significant part of Hopi life so it seemed only natural when they learned that the Fourth World Water Forum was being held in Mexico that they would run from Hopi to Mexico City to show how they feel about protecting water. The World Water Forum will be held from March 16-22.
Because of the amount of runners going, they were told that they can't enter the forum, but they will meet with the Secretary of the forum the day before theforum.
The run is supported by the H2OPI Run Coordinating Committee and the Black Mesa Trust. They have raised funds through food sales, raffles, village runs and public awareness.
Ruben Saufkie Sr., said the runners will be carrying the ancient messages and beliefs of water stewardship.
Saufkie said the problem with the representatives of the non-governmental organization meeting at the forum is that they view water as a commodity for developers and production.
"Water is not a commodity. It's a necessity for our survival on earth," Saufkie said.
Saufkie noted that a child dies from drinking polluted water every eight seconds. He said as demands for fresh water increases and resources diminish that the prospect of global water wars and domestic struggles are more likely.
"In the meantime, corporations are getting rich buying and selling clean water all over the world," he said.
Saufkie, who is also board member with the Black Mesa Trust, said Hopi people just had a huge water victory when Peabody closed down the area mine.
"Our message now is that we need to make sure that everybody throughout the world has enough water," he said. "We need enough water for all mankind and allliving things."
Saufkie recently returned from scouting the route.
"My scouting expedition turned out really great. People were excited to hear our message," he said.
Saufkie said this trip has special meaning to him because as a member of the Water Clan he knows his family roots go back to Mexico.
"Some Hopi clans migrated from Mexico. This gives us a chance to trace our historical migration roots backward," he said.
During his scouting trip, Saufkie met with members of the Azteca and Mexica tribes.
"They said 'You are home,' " he said about his reception during his scouting trip.
Saufkie said these tribes, like the Hopi, believe that at the time when the world is in peril that the eagle and condor come together to bring peace. He doesn't know the specifics of this story, but hopes to find out during the Mexico visit. In honor of this quest, Hopis will perform the eagle dance when meeting with the Mexico tribes.
"The eagle is a powerful messenger to the Hopi and other indigenous people," he said.
The runners will range in age from 12 to 74 and represent all 13 villages.
Saufkie said it's important to take kids because that's where the hope lies for today and the future.
Kristine Sumatzkuku, a 12-year old runner from Moenkopi, will be the youngest runner. Brianna Puhuyesva, Marshall Masayesva and Levon Nahpi from Hopi High School will also run for their belief to protect water.
Bob Harris from Mishongnovi, 74, will be the oldest of the elders on this run.
Saufkie said the messages of the run include:
• Bringing the Hopi philosophy of water and stewardship of the land to the representatives of the non-governmental organizations attending the World
• Sharing teachings that renew Hopi cultural heritage as makers of peace and stewards of balance called to unite the global community in knowledge that water is
life, a gift from the creator and that access to it is a right of all human beings.
• Beginning to overcome the political, religious and racial disrespect that threatens global balance, the well-being of Mother Earth and the natural system of life-giving waters.
• Renewing Hopi traditions and ceremonies of running and the use of runners to carry vital communications from village to village.
• Renewing through direct contact and cultural exchange Hopi ties of identity and kinship with the indigenous peoples of Central Mexico.
The Hopi runners will carry with them spring waters blessed and gifted to them from each Hopi village.
They will also carry a gourd of water, an ear of corn and a planting stick--these are the symbols of Maasaw's gifts to the Hopi. The Hopi elders on the trip will offer daily prayers and corn meal blessings.
The water they carry will be poured into a lake at the end of the run.
Saufkie said the runners for the event were selected by their commitment by attending meetings and agreeing to commit to the entire time of the journey.
"They didn't have to be strong runners, but they had to have a strong commitment to protecting water," he said.
For more information, telephone Saufkie at 928-734-5438 or log onto www.h2opirun.org.
(Stan Bindell, former Observer editor, is journalism and radio teacher at Hopi High School.)