Hopi Tribe celebrates historic grand opening of Moenkopi Legacy Inn

<i>Tyler Tawahongva/NHO</i><br>
Miss Hopi Janelle Puhuyesva (left) and First Attendant Verna Thompson stand in front of the Moekopi Legacy Inn and Suites last week. A well-attended grand opening took place last Tuesday.

<i>Tyler Tawahongva/NHO</i><br> Miss Hopi Janelle Puhuyesva (left) and First Attendant Verna Thompson stand in front of the Moekopi Legacy Inn and Suites last week. A well-attended grand opening took place last Tuesday.

MOENKOPI, Ariz. - On Tuesday April 27, the Hopi Tribe celebrated the grand opening of the Moenkopi Legacy Inn and Suites. Hundreds of people gathered from Navajo, Hopi and points beyond to attend this historic occasion. Developed by the Upper Village of Moenkopi, the Legacy Inn is part of the most substantial commercial endeavor ever undertaken by any Hopi village.

According to their website, the Moenkopi Legacy Inn and Suites logo represents the Hopi people, who are guardians of the sacred land called Tutskwa in northeastern Arizona. Since ancient times, it has been the responsibility of the village elders to protect the land for the benefit of the people. This stewardship is premised on Hopi prophecy, and faith in the Supreme Being would be the key to success.

The logo is a testament to this belief, depicted by the image of an elder praying outside of a ceremonial kiva. The Moenkopi Legacy Inn and Suites - true to its name - seeks to serve as a lasting legacy of the Moenkopi elders.

The new hotel has been a long time coming according to Leroy Sakiestewa, one of the original board members for Moencopi Development Corporation (MDC). The hotel features 100 guestrooms including 16 custom designed suites, a saltwater swimming pool and whirlpool, a conference center, and an outdoor performance plaza.

Guests can also enjoy authentic Hopi artwork, a three-story lobby with fireplace designed by a Hopi architect, the Kiva Garden and the third floor San Francisco Peaks Serenity Lounge.

The ceremonies started with a traditional Hopi crier announcing the event and inviting all to attend. The colors were then posted by American Legion Post No. 80. MDC board member Wilfred Moore served as master of ceremonies.

Before the guest speakers addressed the crowd, everyone was treated to a Hopi social dance provided by Moencopi Village. Following the ceremonies, Daniel Honahni, CEO of MDC remarked that he had dedicated the day's event to the elders who paved the way and empowered the village to develop. Honahni sees this development as a way for people to come home and be able to work. He stated that the building consists of Hopi architecture to give pride to the Hopi people.

Board member Linda Honahni feels this is a dream come true for Hopis. She says this is a beginning of more development on the Hopi Reservation and is excited about seeing it all come into being. Dr. Alan Numkena stated that this was a momentous occasion to have a beautiful building and jobs coming to the local community. He sees the Inn as a destination point for people from all over the world.

Moore added that it is hard to express the joy and pleasure being experienced and that facilities like this bring jobs for the community. He expressed gratitude to the united effort of many people to make this happen. Numkena then gave an opening prayer for a blessing on the building and all the people.

Next, William Charley, Governor of Upper Moenkopi, spoke and stated that the hotel will have a positive impact on Coconino County as well as nearby Navajo and Hopi communities. He called it a monumental event in Hopi. Sakiestewa recognized all the VIPs present and acknowledged their contributions. Vice-Chairman Herman Honanie praised the village of Moenkopi and stated that other villages are looking to Moenkopi, inspired to pursue their own projects.

He spoke in Hopi at times and supported the community effort involved and emphasized these things cannot be done alone. He was happy that the elders were being honored and felt that we should always look forward to future generations.

Mandy Metzger from the Coconino County Board of Supervisors spoke next and remarked that last year she attempted to make reservations for the Tuba City Fair, but that all the rooms were booked in the area. She thought that since there was now a new hotel, she would be able to reserve a room this year, but again, all rooms at the Legacy Inn were already booked.

Daniel Honahni closed the event by remarking that in order to make things possible money is needed. He acknowledged the Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Indian Community Block Grant as a funding source.

Before the ribbon cutting, Moore invited all veterans to the front to be recognized for their service to the country. Then the ribbon cutting ceremony commenced and the hotel was officially open for business.

Everyone was treated to lunch and dances took place later in the day. A special luncheon was held for VIPs where Chairman Leroy Shingoitewa stated that he sees this as historical economic development for the Hopi Tribe. He also praised the MDC for the courage and the fortitude to provide a model for other villages to follow to create infrastructure.

He reminisced about the time when he was growing up in Moenkopi, stating that he never would have imagined that he would one day be making important decisions for the community.

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