Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights 2020

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Peter Coyote, circular giving on Hopiland

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz., March 20 – Black Mesa Trust's coyote warriors have an ardent supporter in actor, activist, and songwriter Peter Coyote, who was a guest of the Trust's executive director, Vernon Masayesva, and his wife, Becky, at Bean Dance in the Hopi village of Hotevilla a few weeks ago. Coyote has acted in more than 90 films, is an Emmy-award winning narrator of over 120 documentaries, has authored his own memoir, "Sleeping Where I Fall," and is a musician. His current projects include several appearances as a special guest star on ABC's drama series "Brothers and Sisters." Coyote is no stranger to the Hopi mesas. He explained, "Thirty-five years ago, as a confused young man and leader of a commune in California, I wound up on Hopi visiting David Monongye, who was then in his 90s. "There were no white people in Hotevilla then. I stayed there a couple of months and he taught me some Hopi prophesies, showed me some of the abandoned villages, and allowed me to observe the Hopi way of life. "I stayed with David and his wife, and I saw the way people came in and out of their house and discussed things. I was hugely impressed. That visit became the moral compass of my life and I've done what I could to be of use to the Hopi people since then, including being involved in the effort to save the N-aquifer." Coyote and some friends have been coming to Bean Dance for several years, but this year was unique."Twenty years ago," said Coyote, "I saw a textile at an Indian show and I knew it shouldn't be there, so I bought it. I wrapped it and stored it in cedar. "Last year at Bean Dance, I met Robert Breunig, director of the Museum of Northern Arizona, and I finally met Vernon face to face."I told them about the textile and sent it to the museum for storage. It would have been used this year at Bean Dance, but it takes three weeks to purify it, and Jerry Honawa was too busy with his other responsibilities to do it for this year." Coyote is very clear about what the return of the textile means to him. "In giving it back to the Hopi, I am giving a gift to David Monongye in thanks for what he gave to me." The textile, a wearing robe (tuuhi'i), will be given into the care of Jerry Honawa. Masayesva said that it was a generous and very significant gift to the Hopi people.Black Mesa Trust is a grassroots organization founded in 2000 to preserve the N-aquifer on Black Mesa for future generations of Hopi and Navajo people and to affirm the ancient knowledge that "water is life."

For more information about Black Mesa Trust, visit

Photo captions: Vernon Masayesva, Peter Coyote and Becky Masayesva outside the Masayesvas' home in Kykotsmovi. Photo by Roberta Price. Copyright 2007. The wearing robe (tuuhi'i) returned to the Hopi people. Photo courtesy of Museum of Northern Arizona.-- Tanya LeePublisherNewsWatch Native America LLC 377-0267 (cell)(617) 491-6106 (tel)7270 Slayton Ranch RoadFlagstaff, AZ 860042 Chester StreetCambridge, MA 02140

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