Sacred Landscapes

LCI is excited to be co-hosting the Grand Canyon Semester for Fall 2014 with NAU’s Honors Program and Grand Canyon National Park. The GCS students are kindly providing blog updates of their activities this fall so that we can live vicariously through their experiences– hooray!

Sacred Landscapes (by Kelli and Emily)

Part One

On Thursday September 11, we visited Tutuveni, a Hopi petroglyph site where men would mark personal images as they would travel to the salt mines.

HopiPetroglyph

The six bear paws were from the same man as he made a new journey to the salt mines.

Mike, Joe and Lewayne were very helpful in explaining the meanings of the petroglyphs and talked to us about their jobs as archeologists on Hopi lands.

One of the difficulties they face at this spot is the vandalism by Navajo. There is a fence surrounding this site along with video cameras to prevent further vandalism. A complex problem facing the vandalism is that when a Navajo falls ill and goes to the healer, they are told to go to this site and mark over a specific symbol. Mike, Joe and Lewayne, cannot stop Navajo from this type of vandalism because it is a cultural practice.

Mike, Joe and Lewayne were very helpful in explaining the meanings of the petroglyphs and talked to us about their jobs as archeologists on Hopi lands.

One of the difficulties they face at this spot is the vandalism by Navajo. There is a fence surrounding this site along with video cameras to prevent further vandalism. A complex problem facing the vandalism is that when a Navajo falls ill and goes to the healer, they are told to go to this site and mark over a specific symbol. Mike, Joe and Lewayne, cannot stop Navajo from this type of vandalism because it is a cultural practice.

Mike, Joe, and Lewayne, archeologists at Hopi

Mike, Joe, and Lewayne, archeologists at Hopi

Natalie and Coleen looking at petroglyphs

Natalie and Coleen looking at petroglyphs

 

 

 

After leaving Tutuveni we headed to the Kayenta Mine.

We listened to a video and were given hard hats and bright orange vests before we would be given the tour.

GCS on reclaimed land

GCS on reclaimed land

We were told that Kayenta Mine is one of the safest mines, and that they work together with the Navajo Nation and Hopi Nation. Many of the workers, around 90% are Native Americans.

After mining of an area is finished, they reclaim the land for traditional practices of livestock grazing and cultural plant use.

Being told by all three tour guides that reclaimed lands were better than they were before, and that the reclaimed lands look better than the natural landscape. It takes over 10 years for the reclaimed lands to be used again as grazing lands, this is the time it takes for the vegetation to grow back and  meet previous standards which are required to be met.

The mine ships 8 million tons of coal annually, and members of both Navajo and Hopi nation receive free coal.

A small Dragline removing soil and dirt which is above coal.

A small Dragline removing soil and dirt which is above coal.

A water truck, wetting the roads so the dust does not affect the mining.

A water truck, wetting the roads so the dust does not affect the mining.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of all the water used at the Kayenta mine, 90% is used to wet the roads. All of the water used is from the area.

After we left the Mine, we went to Fern’s house, where we stayed for the night, and is located next to the Black Mesa Mine, which closed in 2005. Mike showed us a map of the proposed area to mine starting in 2015, this map had small circles which represented archeological sites that were located in 1967. Only a few sites were surveyed out of the approximate 2,500 sites found in the 65,000 acres leased to Peabody to be mined.

There was a group discussion about what the mine had just told us, and what we had learned in class. Now that we have seen both sides of the story we all have our own educated opinions about the mine.

-Kelli

Part Two

What a day – full of insightful talks and glimpses into the lives of those living on the reservation. We started off with a talk by Fern of all the destruction caused by Peabody Coal, clueing us in that perhaps Peabody Coal hadn’t been 100% truthful the day before. She explained that Red Peak was a sacred site in the vicinity of the mine and individuals like Katherine Smith were holding their ground, arming themselves to protect the mountain. We were also informed of the various political negotiations and side deals that lead to a rift between the Hopi and Navajo, but what really brought home the horrific effects of the mine, however, was the health effects and how air quality and pollution were causing increases in cancer, breathing anomalies and black lung. Peabody wasn’t doing anything to help.

Later on we paid a visit to Leigh, a Hopi and friend of Wolf’s who showed us the traditional ways of growing corn and let us taste the corn smut, a fungus that attaches itself to the corn, helping it grow. It’s amazing to see corn grow in such a harsh environment with no irrigation. We even got to see the pit oven, which has been used by Hopi for many generations, that is used to bake the corn in order to preserve it.

Photo by Kelli

Photo by Kelli

Photo by Kelli

Photo by Kelli

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our last guest speakers were Anita and Ruby, two women who invited us into their home, fed us traditional Hopi blue corn meal and shed some light on how their spirituality is both incredibly important to them and future generations, as well how it has helped Anita get through some difficult times in her life. With such an intimate encounter, the importance of spirituality in the lives of the Hopi people became very apparent at a personal level.

It was off to the Water Is Life spaghetti dinner and then sleeping under the stars before the big run the next day.

Saturday

After waking up to a beautiful sunrise and the start of the run, not race, we headed off to be lookouts or spotters for runners heading up the First Mesa. The run itself is a spiritual run to help celebrate and bring water by running on the sacred trails. While an overall smooth day, it just wouldn’t be an outing without a few hiccups such as having the EMS called in to save Anna and I. It turned out to be a simple misunderstanding, a couple other spotters believing us to be injured runners. It was sorted out and all in all, an excellent day cheering on the runners in the 10 mile stretch, including our very own GCSers (Monika and Jaime) and professor, Tom, playing music to pump them up and then topping it off with heading up the mesa to Hano, a small village where we got to watch a social dance to help “make it rain”. Also participating in the run were faculty members Wolf, Ted and students Levi and Tiffany. This was an excellent weekend full of insightful talks, endless jokes (mainly at Peabody Coal) and learning from first hand accounts about some of our countries most sacred landscapes.

Photo by Kelli

Photo by Kelli

-Emily

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *