April 5, 2023 — The Black Mesa Trust (BMT), a Hopi grassroots organization, has been honored with the ‘Water and Heritage Shield‘ by the International Committee on Monuments and Sites International Science Committee. The award, aimed at raising awareness for the sacred Sípàapu site, supports the Hopi people’s efforts to enhance water management, preserve the area in its natural state, and continue their traditional ceremonial spiritual practices. The Sípàapu, a limestone dome and spring located on the Little Colorado River, holds spiritual significance for the Hopi as well as other Native American groups such as the Navajo and Zuni.
The Hopi people are renowned for their environmental stewardship and reverence for nature. Their ancestors inhabited the Grand Canyon before 1250 CE, later relocating to mesas northeast of the canyon due to external pressures. According to one theory, the Hopi purposely settled in a fragile high desert environment to foster spiritual growth through their deep connection with the land and water.
The award ceremony took place as the United Nations 2023 Water Conference concluded in New York City. Mona Polacca, a Native American spiritual elder and Indigenous Water Ethics Coordinator, emphasized the importance of indigenous people’s sacred responsibility to care for their land, water, and life on earth, maintaining a delicate balance among diverse life forms to ensure the planet’s continued existence.
Map of the Navajo and Hopi reservations, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.