SICHOMOVI, Ariz. - It has been 20 years this spring that Hopi has held a traditional seed run to celebrate tribal tradition and culture. The run reminds the community to be humble and to appreciate and honor organic, drought resistant Hopi traditional seeds. The event started with a special morning blessing, a run, men's smoking circle and finally a traditional meal made with some of the crops that have been grown with the same seeds the year before by the sponsoring village matriarchs.
Rainy Naha, a renowned, award winning Hopi-Tewa potter from First Mesa is the principal organizer of this yearly event along with her husband, Rod Pongyesva. They share several lifestyle interests including healthy, daily running and eating habits alongside an avid interest in preserving the Hopi way of life.
"We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children" says Naha, with a smile, quoting an old saying from a tribal elder. "This annual seed run is just one way for us to remember that we are truly the caretakers of our own land base and its critically important to remember to honor our reservation area resources, like our ancient seeds, our crops, our water and our cultural ties to each other."
Naha continued, "When I was small, my father and I used to run around our cornfield each spring before we would plant our corn crop. It was a humble way to remember that our seeds had their own journey coming up through the soil and that with the right amount of nurturing from us and our mother, the earth with her rain and sunshine, that we could look forward to a really nice harvest to eat and share in the fall."
The older women carefully watched as younger Hopi and Tewa girls helped that day. By sharing their own personal stories about how they were first taught to harvest and cook Hopi wild greens, corn, squash, beans and various medical plants, the noon meal became a lesson of sustainable, gourmet, high protein, organic six course meals. This shows not just the practical side of planting and harvesting at Hopi, but this verbal exchange could probably become a whole formal school in "green" cooking technique and its practical application to everyday organic foods.
Naha and Pongyesva said that this year, there were a record number of young Hopi and Tewa children who ran in honor of these seeds.
The students were told before they ran that being Hopi and Tewa brings not only the beautiful culture and rich, historical heritage, but also that there are very deep responsiblities to being able to live on the mesas and what they must do as they grow older to keep these responsibilities in check for their future families and future grandchildren.
This year, Sichomovi Village was the sponsoring village but the event rotates between Sichomovi, Walpi and Hano.
Along with the morning blessing, the participants brought baskets of seeds to share and exchange in the sponsoring village's plaza. If you need a certain type of seed to plant in your field, you are encouraged to take some of what is offered.
People are able to sit and chat and the elder men who are helping to sponsor the day's event also formed a special "smoking circle" to smoke over and bless the seeds that are brought to the run.
Naha says, "I get such a good feeling, watching our elders sit with our young ones, sharing their own farming and harvest stories and it reminds me of what my aunts used to say to me when I was small, that as long as the mesas still breath life, these seeds remind us of who we are as Hopis and Tewas - we're farmers. We are lucky to be Hopi and Tewa, and its important to remind our chidren of how blessed we are [and] to be able to provide sustenance with our own crops. But along with that blessing comes responsibility," Naha concluded.
This Hopi-Tewa seed event according to Naha is "dedicated to our land of inheritance." Each year, the event sponsors ask that seeds be donated and shared. If you are interested in donating organic or ancestral seeds to Naha and Pongyesva for next year's event or wish to help with their yearly activities, call (928) 738-5355.
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