Water's unifying effect on all nations

Hopis, one Navajo and New Mexico Pueblo runners join in a historic, 2,000 mile relay to Mexico City World Water Conference

H2opi runners are greeted as they enter the Village of Hotevilla on Third Mesa.

H2opi runners are greeted as they enter the Village of Hotevilla on Third Mesa.

TUBA CITY -- It's 4:30 a.m. at Su'sungva Spring, located between the Upper and Lower Hopi Villages of Mungapi, situated immediately to the south of Tuba City.

Twenty-five Hopi runners along with the one lone brave Navajo runner are literally enveloped by supporters. This includes members from all 12 Hopi villages made up of family and clan members, close friends, outside interested non-Native supporters, environmentalists, a Tibetan and Catholic priest, native medicine men from both the Navajo and Hopi tribes. Noted Havasupai medicine man, James Uqualla is there along with the assigned film and media crew for the run, and they are all taking part in the pre-dawn water pouring ceremony.

Their journey started immediately after this early morning ceremony and will take these runners 14 days, averaging about 150 miles per day, totaling a little over 2,000 miles. It will end at the fourth World Water Conference in Mexico City that is the world's biggest public forum on water related issues.

This World Water Conference will take place from March 16-22, drawing more than 5,000 diplomats, scientists, government officials, business representatives and indigenous groups. There will also be more than 1,000 journalists present and more than 200 water seminars to choose from.

The last time the water conference was held was three years ago in Kyoto, Japan. This year, tribal representatives from Arizona and New Mexico will be added to this esteemed participant list.

Vials of water were shipped to the Black Mesa Trust offices over this past year, to support this world awareness run. These samples of water have been gathered from every spring on the Hopi Reservation with samples coming from Japan's Mt. Fiji, the Sea of Galilee, Israel, Germany, France, Hawaii as well as samples from other Native reservations in the United States, and smaller places, like private wells on private land including Santa Fe, New Mexico and Connecticut.

Ocean water was also added to this mix.

As each vial was opened, the pourer called out the name of the origin of its shipment and the crowd responded with shouts of "Kwa'kwai" or "Askwali" from the male and female Hopis and thank you in varied languages of the other onlookers.

It was an uplifting and inspired process.

When Black Mesa Trust Executive Director Vernon Masayesva held up one bottle and said out loud, "This one's from Wal-Mart!" everyone in the crowd laughed loudly.

This blending of water from all over the world was a symbolic gesture of how this sacred substance bonds everyone on this earth together, all people, all animals, all plants.

This water mix was then separated into 45 smaller natural gourd containers and one very large 40-year-old Tewa-Hopi canteen, donated by famed Tewa potter of First Mesa, Rainy Naha.

This water would then be carried to each participating village, the Navajo Nation and the New Mexico Pueblos. The final big canteen would be the mix that would be added to the World Water Conference's pouring ceremony upon arrival on March 16 in Mexico City.

The runners, by press time, will be in El Sueco, Mexico on their way to Chihuahua. This will be their seventh straight day of running, starting each morning at sunrise and going until sunset.

The run has already been picked up by news media around the country and it has had an impact on water's importance to the world by just the media interest and publicity.

Following is the run schedule from Wednesday, March 8-15:

• Day 7, March 8: El Sueco to Chihuahua, Mexico

• Day 8, March 9: Chihuahua to Jimenez, Mexico

• Day 9, March 10: Jimenez to Gomez Palacio

• Day 10, March 11: Gomez Palacio to Rio Grande

• Day 11, March 12: Rio Grande to Zacatecas

• Day 12, March 13: Zacatecas to San Luis Potosi

• Day 13, March 14: San Luis Potosi to Queretaro

• Day 14, March 15: Queretaro to Mexico City

Runners will also be able to tour and meet indigenous groups in the town of Puebla, tour cultural facilities including the Pyramids in Teotihuaca'n, the "Temple of the Sun" and also the Museum of Mexico City.

Sponsorships for the runners in both the corporate and tribal categories are still being solicited and more information for donating can be obtained by utilizing the website: www.h2opiRun.org.

(Rosanda Suetopka Thayer, Hopi/Navajo, resides in Hotevilla, and is a regular contributor to the Navajo Hopi Observer.)

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