The Hopi Way


The physical threat to the future existence of the Hopis is very real. Billions of gallons of the Hopis’ limited underground water reserves that feed their springs will be used by the mine during the course of the lease, and the contract contains no guarantee that the Hopis will always be supplied with water. Hydrologists are divided on whether the Hopi springs will suddenly dry up, and only time will provide an answer to the question. Furthermore, the lease gives no guarantee that acid from spoil-bank run-offs from the mine will not wash across and destroy the Hopis’ gardens. Nor does it guarantee that the land ravaged by the mine will be reclaimed and healed satisfactorily after the strip mining ends. Any one of those catastrophes would force the Hopis to move, severing the sacred attachment between them and the place Massau’u told them to settle, the center of their universe, and thus bringing about their prophesied destruction.

To many of the white visitors who come to the Hopi villages the strip mine on Black Mesa and the air and water pollution with which the new power plants threaten to destroy the exquisite beauty of the American Southwest are sobering reminders of man’s present suicidal course on earth. Suddenly the gap disappears between the “quaint primitives” and the rational twentieth-century men who believe themselves created to dominate and control nature. As the visitors listen to the traditionalists in Hotevilla and the other Hopi towns relating Massau’u’s life plan and his prophecies of what will happen if that plan is disregarded, they see the pollution of the air and understand clearly, at last, what the Hopis have been trying to tell the world. And those who have come as pilgrims in restlessness and trouble sense that they have found the answers for which they have been searching.


Black Mesa is covered with the holy shrines of generations of Hopis, the signs and markings that signified the Hopis’ belief that they were the stewards, not the exploiters, of the earth, and that everything in nature is interrelated and must be respected if man is to survive. But the strip-mine drag lines are already tearing them up.