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Hopi runners finish Water is Life journey to Phoenix, ask lawmakers to protect sacred sites in Grand Canyon

Paatuwaqatsi Water is Life Run/Facebook

A group of Hopi runners has concluded their journey from the Hopi Mesas to Phoenix, drawing attention to threats facing sacred sites in the Grand Canyon.

According to the Navajo Hopi Observer, the runners carried a proclamation to the state legislature urging lawmakers to pass legislation protecting the Little Colorado River, and specifically the sacred site known as Sípáapu. The Hopi people consider it a spiritual passageway where their ancient ancestors emerged from the earth.

In recent years, the Little Colorado River has been the focus of proposed hydro-storage dams and controversial tourism ventures on the canyon’s rim that potentially threaten the ecological health of the waterway.

In a press release, the Black Mesa Trust says there are no water laws protecting the area and that counties, cities and big businesses have all successfully challenged the Hopi Tribal Council’s attempts to claim rights to the Little Colorado River.

Black Mesa Trust is a Hopi-run organization that addresses the environmental impacts of decades of groundwater pumping and withdrawals from the Navajo Aquifer by Peabody Coal Company.