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Navajo-Hopi Observer | Flagstaff, Arizona

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9/18/2012 7:45:00 AM
Hopi grassroots water advocates to be focus of Fox News documentary
Rosanda Suetopka Thayer
The Observer

HOPI RESERVATION, Ariz. - Hopi community members who spoke out against Senate Bill 2109 and Navajo Hopi Little Colorado Settlement will soon take their story to a national audience in a Fox News documentary that will air later this year. The community members expressed how sacred and precious water is to traditionally and environmentally minded Hopis as compared to progressive, money minded central government Hopis for a second time this year to let the world know of their concern for the world's most valuable resource, water.

SB 2109 was authored by U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl and John McCain. SB 2109 was also endorsed by Hopi Tribal Chairman, LeRoy Shingoitewa and several members of the Hopi Council.

A New York-based Fox News crew headed by news reporter Tamara Laine came equipped with a video and photography team of six people earlier this month to Hopi. The interview focused on several Hopi community members about controversy that was caused in the Hopi and Navajo communities by the water settlement. Local grassroots water tribal advocates shared what had to be done to prevent the passage of SB 2109 as well as stopping the final approval by their own Hopi Council to allow the settlement agreement to go through.

Hopi community members Dale Sinquah, Clifford Qotsaquahu, Phillip Quochytewa, Leroy Lewis, Archie Duwahyoima and Col. Caleb Johnson as well as former Hopi Tribal Chairmen Ivan Sidney and Ben Nuvamsa were interviewed in depth on camera for the documentary set for release in November.

"What this whole Hopi water issue boils down to is that water is essential for all human and animal and plant life," said Dale Sinquah, of Tewa Village at First Mesa. "Every single person in this whole world should be concerned about this issue. The other very, very important aspect is that this local Hopi issue in the state of Arizona is just a small part of the whole world water concern. This is not just a local tribal issue, but an issue that is going to affect the entire world population if we keep using and using our water so carelessly and don't take precautions to preserve, respect and revere our water sources."

"If you really study this local Hopi water issue, its only just a small part of the world problem because there is an entire world problem with not having enough clean, drinkable water for daily safe human consumption," said Clifford Qotsaquahu, former Vice Chairman of the Hopi Tribe. "We need to take a really hard look as Hopi people about what our real priorities are in this life. Is it money? Or is our commitment and obligation to our ancestors and our covenant to respect our Creator's original wishes to take care of our land and water and our traditional ceremonies and life ways?"

One of the biggest concerns brought forth at the interview was the little understood and little talked about Hopi Tribe's water rights claim that was been filed in Superior Court in Apache County in 1985.

According to opening Hopi statements in the Apache County court documents, "Water is the essence of Hopi secular and religious philosophy. It is hard to imagine anything more sacred - as substance or symbol - than water in Hopi religious thought and practice. Intrinsic to other religious representations, and underlying much other symbolism in the panoply of Hopi ritual is the concern of water."

Further the Hopi water court document state, "Springs, water and rain are focal themes in Hopi ritual customs, Hopi kiva iconography, Hopi mythological narratives, personal names and songs, which call the cloud chiefs from the varicolored directions to bear their fructifying essence back into the cycle of human, animal and vegetal life." Source: Hopi Tribe's second amended statement of claimant, filed Nov. 12, 2009.

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