Guest column: Join the 2021 Virtual Earth Day Challenge

Eva Nuvayestewa overseeing the planting of additional fruit trees to the family orchard. (Photo courtesy of Valerie Nuvayestewa)

Eva Nuvayestewa overseeing the planting of additional fruit trees to the family orchard. (Photo courtesy of Valerie Nuvayestewa)

FIRST MESA, Ariz. — Stewardship can be defined as an “ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. The concepts of stewardship can be applied to the environment and nature, economics, health, property, information, cultural resources, and people.” (Wikipedia) Yes, people. It is also defined as a” belief that humans are responsible for taking care of creation,” which is in alignment with what Hopi, and many cultures around the world hold to be true in that “our creator has provided all the necessary resources needed by all living beings to coexist here, including the means by which the human race can achieve a happy, healthy, and self-sustaining life.” (Qoyahongniwa, Songoopavi 1995)


Leon Nuvayestewa, his grandchildren and volunteers leveling the area where soil erosion is happening and where water bars will be placed to slow the flow of water that comes from the mesa when it rains. (Photo/Valerie Nuvayestewa)

I mentioned earlier that the concept of stewardship can be applied to people as well. Many of our wise older relatives have found themselves in the position where they can no longer take care of themselves and must rely on family to care for them, that is, if family is even willing to take care of them. In some instances, yes, it is not safe for our older relatives to be kept in their own home as they get older and more incapacitated. It then becomes a matter of safety for the individual being cared for and the person who is giving care to think about other options.

I remember helping to care for my grandparents when they needed help, it was the least I could do to for them, as they took the time to help raise me when my parents were going to school and working.

Yes, it was a lot of hard work.

I am also not sharing this for a pat on the back nor recognition, only to say that I was happy that my children saw me doing this, and now that they have grown up, I see them doing the same for their great grandparents without hesitation, without giving it a second thought, they are willing to step up to the plate to care for their loved ones.

This simple act of reciprocity in giving help when it is needed, in reaching out to respond to another human being that needs to feel that they are loved and cherished and are not a burden to their families, is what we need to be demonstrating to our young ones so that they too, can take the initiative to care for someone and something, without having to be asked, or reminded, whether or not they receive anything in return or are even recognized for their efforts.

If we succeed in teaching these values to our children, then they in turn will view everything that is living, as a relative, a part of their bigger family that encircles them.

We have then succeeded in creating stewards of the environment and nature, economics, health, property, information, cultural resources, and people.

More importantly, we will have created stewards who are responsible for taking care of creation. Stewards of the land, helping to heal our earth and all living beings within.

As we move closer to celebrating Earth Day on April 22, we invite you to join us in participating in Tutskwat Oqawtoynani’s Virtual CleanUp Challenge. Anyone can join whether you live near or far. Designate a day between April 19-25 to clean around your home, garden, field, or your favorite hiking, walking, or running trail using COVID-19 precautionary measures.

Submit before and after photos of the area you decide to clean and post to our Facebook Page, Tutskwat Oqawtoynani. You may use the hashtags #virtualcleanupchallenge, #cleanupourmesas, #thehealingisinthedoing, #tutskwatoqawtoynani. You also have the option of submitting by email to

Photos must be submitted to our page no later than 5 p.m. on April 25.

Once your photos are submitted you will be entered into a drawing for some great prizes. Drawing will be held the following day, April 26. Winners will be announced on Tutskwat Oqawtoynani’s Facebook Page. If you submitted your photos through email, you will be notified if your name was drawn. You do not need to be present to win.

Take a good look at what you are doing to demonstrate what being a good steward really means, whether it be caring for a loved one, or doing your part to clean up the environment. We must remind ourselves that these two acts are one and the same. Tutskwat Oqawtoynani can be interpreted, “By cleaning up the environment we are helping the earth to regain its’ full vitality.” Happy Earth Day 2021!

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