Black Mesa Trust says OSM is disregarding Hopi religious cycle
KYKOTSMOVI-Black Mesa Trust is using all means possible to let the U.S. Office of Surface Mining (OSM) know that the agency's November release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Black Mesa Project puts Hopi elders in an impossible situation.
"The Hopi people are in the religious portion of their calendar year. Our elders are in their kivas, performing their ceremonial responsibilities. This is not a time when they can be called away to read and analyze a 700-plus-page government document," said Vernon Masayesva, executive director of Black Mesa Trust.
"All Hopi religious ceremonies are carried out for the good of all living things, for peace on earth and for rain and snow. Through their ceremonies, the religious leaders 'keep the earth alive and healthy.' They are the true practicing stewards of Mother Earth," said Masayesva.
"In the month of December (Kyaa muya), the Month of Respect, the priests conduct Soyalung ceremonies. During this month, Hopis are required to show utmost respect for ancestors and Mother Earth, who is resting. Hopi are told not to disturb the earth and to speak quietly and respectfully.
"January is called, 'Paa muya,' meaning Water Moon. It is the month when Hopis take out the drums to celebrate their survival and to prepare for the new cycle of life.
"The ceremonies end when the February moon appears. In February, the last major ceremony takes place. This is the period when people are purified, and the men are instructed to prepare themselves physically and spiritually for the spring planting. February is called Purification Moon," said Masayesva.
He added that OSM is most likely aware of the Hopi religious calendar, because the agency consults with the Hopi Tribe.
Even so, OSM released the Draft EIS in November, allowed only one month for people to read the extremely complex document, and has scheduled public hearings for January - when Hopi religious leaders are by tradition and duty committed to other activities that require their full attention.
The Trustees and Advisors of Black Mesa Trust have called upon the federal government to show respect for the Hopi way of life and postpone the scheduled hearings on the Draft EIS to a time that does not conflict with the Hopi religious calendar and that allows sufficient time for the people to read the document, meet, discuss it and form an opinion about it.
These trustees and advisors are calling upon the Hopi Tribal Council to honor the Hopi Constitution, a document that mandates all Council Representatives must preserve and protect "the good things of Hopi life" (Preamble) as a sacred duty.
The Black Mesa Project includes coal mining at the Kayenta and Black Mesa Mines, the coal slurry pipeline that runs from Black Mesa to Mohave Generating Station in Nevada, and the use of 6,000 acre feet of water per year from either the C-aquifer or the N-aquifer, the latter of which is the sole source of groundwater for the Hopi and Navajo people on Black Mesa.
Black Mesa Trust is prepared to take this matter to court if necessary.
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