The Greedy Guts Hopi-Navajo Water Grab: Version 2.0
(Oh, Gawd; you’re gonna wanna shoot me, this is so long. I didn’t have the time to make it shorter, it seems.)
[Keshagesh: Cree for Greedy Guts: a puppy that eats his own food, then helps himself to the rest of the bowls.]
In April I posted about this particular genocidal water grab authored by the Forces of Cavalier Greed wanting to steal back water guaranteed the tribes by the Winters Doctrine, the 1908 SCOTUS decision that set the federal legal precedent on Native water rights claims. In the case of SB 2109, not only did the traditionals of both tribes have to fight the Greedy Guts (Keshagesh in Cree), but their own corrupt tribal leaders’ skullduggery. As Buffy says, “If the Bad Guys don’t get ya, the Good Guys will” as in: the ones who were supposed to have been Good Guys.
The People won what turns out to have been the first round after a strong campaign of outrage, and the bill was finally pulled and believed to be dead. But like so many other massively profitable dirty deals, it was just Zombified, and the Senators from AZ are making it walk the land again: Native land that is; the Third World. Genocide, stolen children, sociocide by Reservation Presidential fiat followed by the theft of any Reservation lands that contained anything of extractive value to the Greedy Guts wasn’t enough. Now it’s their water…their lifeblood, and ours.
From traditionalhopi.org (my bolds throughout):
For the first time in history the Traditional Hopi Elders from the Village to Shungopavi (the Mother Village) are stepping forward to speak to the public. They have a warning for the world. They say they have been told this time would come when the water would be taken from them. If this happens it will have an effect on the whole world as they are the microcosm of the world, of the universe.
Stop the buying and selling of life through water; stop US Senate Bill 2109. We the Hopi are Caretakers of the Earth, of humanity, of all life. We encourage you to join us in protecting the life giving elements in the world for future generations. Without water, we all cease to exist. Buying and selling water, is buying and selling life. This is not a part of the natural balance. Around the world we must join together to stop the destructive path we are currently on and protect life itself.
Please allow me to crib from my original post:
The Hopi people, often called ‘the Peaceful People’ or ‘the Cloud Callers’, especially by the Navajo, live in the parched mesas of northwestern Arizona. Their creation stories describe their ancestors having emerged into the present Fourth World from a sipapu (a hole in the earth connecting to the underworld) at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers. By tradition and long belief, they take seriously and soberly their belief that they were given the task of upholding the world and keeping it safe from harm. At the link you can see Walpi, and read of the Fourth World story, the clan formations, and other history. According to their beliefs, there are many gods they call Kachinas, spirits of assorted powers and purposes who winter in the San Francisco Peaks to the north and come home to Hopi during appointed seasons when The People need their hope and attention. They’re honored by dances and ceremonies designed to please them; participants carve and paint representations of the spirit gods to wear for the ceremonies, or ‘dances’. Old Oraibi, toward the western end of the Hopi Mesas has been inhabited since the 11th century; the houses are built of stone and clay, as all the villages are. They blend into the surrounding rock so well as to be almost invisible. Visiting these generous and patient people’s villages is stepping into another time, another dimension, one scented by sage and sand, and steeped in reverence for life and land, the gods, and laced with the humor that most First Americans have in abundance.
From the traditional Hopi Shungopavi Village’s brand new website created because for the first time ever, the elders are alarmed enough by the current crises concerning water around the globe:
“The Meaning of Hopi
When Human Beings entered into this world, the world of the Creator, they asked permission to live here. The Creator told them he lives very simply, with only his planting stick and a few kernels of corn. If they were willing to live his simple life, they would be allowed to stay.
Human beings were given Three Sacred Duties:
They were given Corn, a Planting Stick and a little Water, to live from the Land. They were given Sacred Religious Instructions, to Uphold the Natural, Spiritual and Universal Worlds, for the Continuing of all Life. They were to remain Faithful to His Instruction, to always maintain His Way of Life. The Hopi People, since ancient times, honor these Three Sacred Duties. Only when upholding these Sacred Religious Instructions does one earn the name Hopi.
The Hopi, loosely speaking, could be said to use their spiritual practices to influence their environment, including performing the Snake Dance to petition the Kachinas for rain to ripen the maize that is their staple crop. To other southwestern tribes, they are known as the Cloud-Callers.
The Navajo, (or Diné, Dineh), on the other hand, studiously adapt themselves to their surroundings, and their ceremonies are designed to ensure that The People walk in beauty, or are returned to hozro, or harmony. Their eight-sided hogans are far apart, as a result they’ve developed careful protocols for visitors, and having to haul every cup of water they use, honor rain in ways Anglos simply can’t fully grasp. Those who live on the vast desert lands still live the way their ancestors did long ago, without power, phones or plumbing. As desert dwellers, water is of critical importance to both tribes, both for survival, the growth of their sacred healing herbs, and for the Hopi ceremonies and the care of sacred springs, which mission is crucial to them…and might be to us.
Caution: Hippie Alert:
I’m not entirely convinced that the Cloud-Callers aren’t right, and that they actually may be the spiritual keepers, or at least some of them, of this Fourth World as designated by those higher beings who had originally taught them. Those sacred responsibilities have been passed down through the generations by way of their Creation Stories and precise spiritual ceremonies. Iron Eyes will speak to this more fully below; but for now, please open your heart and mind to what he offers. We can learn so much from what the Indigenous all over the globe have learned…and have known for years, especially in terms of how far we’ve abandoned this great blue-green ball of a planet to the depredations of those who are killing it, and us, in the name of filling their chests with filthy lucre; blood money, as well as how we might might change different practices that we might live well…and sustainably.
On March 14 Senate Bill 2109 was introduced by John Kyl and John McCain. Its purported intent is to ‘settle’ Native water rights claims on the Little Colorado River, but will extinguish treaty-guaranteed Navajo (Diné) and Hopi water rights and hand them to Peabody Coal , the Navajo Power Generating Station’s owners, and AZ several cities. In this next step down the long trail of broken promises and treaties, even the trinkets and beads are embarrassingly even more…token.
Much native water has already been poisoned and taken; this bill’s passage would actually codify further water-theft and environmental destruction in trade for…some nebulous chimera of a water project…i.e., even inferior to beads and trinkets: at least the trinkets were solid bits.
From the Native News Network site:
“Senate Bill 2109 45; the “Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012? was introduced by Kyl and McCain on February 14, 2012, and is on a fast track to give Arizona corporations and water interests a “100 th birthday present” that will close the door forever on Navajo and Hopi food and water sovereignty, security and self-reliance.
S.2109 asks the Navajo and Hopi peoples to waive their priority Water Rights to the surface waters of the Little Colorado River “from time immemorial and thereafter, forever” in return for the shallow promise of uncertain federal appropriations to supply minimal amounts of drinking water to a handful of reservation communities.
The Bill – and the “Settlement Agreement” it ratifies – do not quantify Navajo and Hopi water rights – the foundation of all other southwestern Indian Water Rights settlements to date – thereby denying the Tribes the economic market value of their water rights, and forcing them into perpetual dependence on uncertain federal funding for any water projects.”
‘Not quantifying water rights’ is such a stunning rip-off it’s hard to even address.
Now the thing you need to understand is the long history of the BIA setting up puppet governments on reservations that were industry friendly. As well, the federal government has worked hard at divide-and-conquer strategies pitting tribal members against each other; usually there’s payola involved, but much of it has been hard to prove. At Hopi, a decade or more ago, the G built new houses for the Hopi, all miles away from the home villages, enticing the young people of the tribe to accept a new materialism and creature comforts for their traditional clan and family based lives. At the same time, Peabody Coal drove legal wedges between the two tribes over coal-laden Black Mesa, which resulted in the cruel and cynical Navajo-Hopi land dispute, reverberations of which will linger long. (You can read more about the internecine shenanigans at my OP.)
From Navajo Ed Becenti via Native News Network:
“S.2109 and the “Settlement Agreement” deny the Navajo and Hopi people the resources and means to assess comprehensive long-term water needs of every community, village, and watershed; and deny the resources and means to plan for, and develop sufficient domestic, municipal, industrial and agricultural “wet water” projects essential to the permanent well-being, prosperity and health of their homelands and children’s children. This is absolutely counter to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1908 Winter’s Doctrine that explicitly reserves and safeguards the water needed for that permanent well-being and prosperity.
S.2109 and the “Settlement Agreement” deny the Navajo and Hopi people the resources and means to bank their own waters, or to recharge their aquifers depleted and damaged by the mining and energy corporations that S.2109 benefits. S.2109 and the “Settlement Agreement” require Navajo and Hopi to give Peabody Coal Mining Company and the Salt River Project and other owners of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) tens of thousands of acre-feet of Navajo and Hopi water annually – without any compensation – and to force the extension of Peabody and NGS leases without Navajo and Hopi community input, or regard for past and continuing harmful impacts to public health, water supplies and water quality – as necessary pre-conditions to Navajo and Hopi receiving Congressional appropriations for minimal domestic water development.
This is coercive and wrong.”
Yes it is, Ed; and it’s sad and sick and we will try help you in your quixotic battle against corporate/government interests. We are now waging a few of the same battles First Americans have waged since Columbus mistakenly hit the eastern shore of this land and named you ‘Indians’.
“‘Thou hast outraged, not insulted me, sir; but let Ahab beware of Ahab; beware of thyself, old man.’”
~ Herman Melville
And recently, via Censored News:
US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wants to push the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement, already rejected by Navajos, through an upcoming Lame Duck Congress, according to a document leaked to Censored News.
The memo from the Navajo Nation Washington Office states there will be a meeting on Nov. 14 in Washington, between Salazar and Navajo and Hopi officials to discuss the water rights settlement, along with the Navajo Generating Station, one of the dirtiest coal fired power plants in the US which Navajo and US politicians want to remain in operation. [snip]
The current scheme involves Salazar meeting with Navajo and Hopi officials, then persuading Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl to modify the legislation that has already been rejected and push it through an upcoming Lame Duck session of Congress following the elections.
Please call the Senators ‘representing’ your state and urge them to vote NO on SB 2109; let them know whose side you’re on. If you’d be willing to sign the petition or even send the Hopi action page to friends, I know the Diné and Hopi people will appreciate it; if we can stop the bill, it will be a blessing for the planet and humanity. There are links to govtrack.us on both the House and Senate versions.
And in the vein of ‘it never ends for Third Worlders’, Joshua Frank at Counterpunch reports on LA’s dependence on coal-fired power plants is killing the Navajo.
And because nothin’ says fun and profit like Skiing in Arizona on Shit Snow, the Hopi have filed another injunction against the use of wastewater to make snow at the Arizona Snowbowl. From sacredland.org:
From many places in northern Arizona, the horizon is dramatically marked by three 12,000-foot volcanic peaks that rise out of the Colorado Plateau south of the Grand Canyon and north of Flagstaff. The San Francisco Peaks are sacred to 13 tribes. For the Navajo, the Peaks are the sacred mountain of the west, Doko’oo’sliid, “Shining On Top,” a key boundary marker and a place where medicine men collect herbs for healing ceremonies. To the Hopi, the Peaks are Nuvatukaovi, “The Place of Snow on the Very Top,” home for half of the year to the ancestral kachina spirits who live among the clouds around the summit. When properly honored through song and ceremony, the kachinas bring gentle rains to thirsty corn plants. The peaks are one of the “sacred places where the earth brushes up against the unseen world,” in the words of Yavapai-Apache Chairman Vincent Randall. However, it is the U.S. Forest Service, not the tribes, that determines what activities can take place on the Peaks, and they have permitted a ski resort since 1979. In 2009, the resort received legal clearance to use reclaimed wastewater to make additional snow — a desecration of the sacred slopes and a threat to the pure drinking water supplied by the mountain aquifer. [snip]
The snow made from wastewater would cover 205 acres and use 180 million gallons of “reclaimed wastewater” annually. The project also requires laying 14 miles of pipeline to deliver the water. Sending sewage water throughout the mountains to mix with pure water is a desecration of a place of worship, especially in a land where water itself is sacred. To pollute what the Navajo Nation calls the “Holy house of our sacred deities whom we pray to and give our offerings” is to attack the cultural and spiritual traditions of virtually all of the local tribes. In addition, the proposal poses serious questions about the presence of chemicals — pharmaceuticals and personal care products — in the water that people will be drinking.
In some rare and actually heartening news from Indian Country, the Sioux Nation has raised enough money to buy back their sacred site Pe’ Sla in the Black Hills, which effort was spearheaded by Lakota tribal member Iron Eyes. His statement reads in part:
These are times of prophecy. White buffalo calves are being born, earthquakes and tsunamis abound, droughts ravage our lands, we as humans have lost our way; but there is still hope. We want hope and our spirits require more than what money, oil, and pop “culture” can offer us. As Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle, says, “We humans send sacred energy, we have power, but we don’t use it and we need to in these times; our prophecies tell us to return to the Black Hills.” It is time we come together as one. When we are at our center we are one with the Universe. There is nothing more powerful than dedicated humans strong in their love for Creator. Indeed, this is the only thing that will save us. I believe this is a sign that humans are returning to their center as Crazy Horse said they would:
“Upon suffering beyond suffering; the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world. A world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations; a world longing for light again. I see a time of seven generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole earth will become one circle again. In that day there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things, and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom. I salute the light within your eyes where the whole universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am at that place within me, we shall be as one.”
~Tasunke Witko (Crazy Horse)
In closing, I guess I’m trying to make a case that we need to be both children of the wind, dreaming a better world and feeling the power that can result from our collective thoughts, attention, prayer and ritual and at the same time allow ourselves to be incensed enough at this sort of fukkery to be kickass activists as well. Indigenous people all over the planet are showing us the way to do both without inherent conflict. Again, the Action Page with the petition is here; dunno how to effect the Snowbowl idiocy.
Consider Buffy as one hell of a guide. No No Keshagesh (No Greedy Guts):
“Hold fast to your dreams, for if dreams die,
Life’s a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”
~ Langston Hughes