Letter to the editor: A Hopi viewpoint on the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument

To the editor:

Sincere Hopi thanks is due Rep. Raul Grijalva for his visionary initiative to create a 1.7 million acre Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument (Republic "Protect land near Canyon," Feb. 19, 2016). It is an important step in securing a healthy future for Arizona and its diverse peoples. I urge President Barack Obama to use his executive power under the Antiquities Act to create the proposed monument and enlarge Grand Canyon National Park before he leaves office. Expanded protections will give great comfort to Hopi people, the first people of the American Southwest, and to all who value this sacred landscape.

As people everywhere recognize, we are passing from one page (rapaciously consumptive industrial) to another (eco-sensitive information age), into a new world and consciousness of environmental responsibility, a new understanding of proper human behaviors essential to global ecosystem security.

There is a growing consensus among scholars and scientists, philosophers, politicians and ordinary folk that a moment of immense opportunity and consequence for life on planet Earth is upon us. Expanding protections to secure for generations the health of the Colorado Plateau is consistent with this recognition and with day-to-day observational experience. Positive response to environmental pressures and change embraced in Grijalva's proposal has sustained Hopi, who are teachers of peace and balance and secured our own survival as the oldest living culture in North America.

Hopi people knowledgeable about our prophecies are surprised neither by these emerging global perspectives nor by their synchronicity with opportunities to act. The Colorado Plateau, site of the proposed Heritage Monument and Park expansion, includes the historic home of the Hopi people; our Siipa'pn, site of Hopi Fourth World emergence; and the great plaza of Hopi life. It is where we serve Mother Earth most intensely and share lessons of survival, well-being and balance. Its protection is essential to all peoples.

Hopi prophecy also envisions people raining down upon the Grand Canyon, a foretelling of the millions of new residents and visitors who sense, as Hopi know, these lands to be a safe place for profound contemplation and healthy redirection of energy.

These prophecies also tell that those who come will ally their powers (political, economic, technological) to share the lessons of Hopi life - of stewardship and of respectful, responsible behavior necessary to avoid a cataclysmic global destruction. A positive decision regarding the Monument and Park expansion is consistent with those teachings.

Hopi people are covenant-bound to protect and teach. For this Ma'sau provided three tools with which to create and sustain balance on our lands and to teach others to care for Mother Earth. They are the gourd of water, the planting stick and the seed of corn - Ecos, Technos and Mythos. All are now convergent upon the proposed monument and expansion.

Finally, Hopi religion tells that the world in which we now live, the Fourth, may not be the last and that the degree of suffering we must endure in passage into the Fifth depends upon choices we make now. Teaching of the gourd of water, planting stick and seed of corn - Ecos, Technos, Mythos - demand a positive decision regarding the Heritage Monument, a necessary protection of land and memory, comfort or disarray in our hands.

Choices regarding our shared stewardship of Mother Earth - our interactions with one another and the living world - and to what end we use technologies (Technos) and teachings (Mythos) available to us are critical in our transit from industrial to eco-centric world. Creation of a Heritage monument and expansion of Grand Canyon National Park are but two good choices we must make for human survival and comfort.

Vernon Masayesva

Founder and Director, Black Mesa Trust

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