Rights of Mother Earth Kansas 2012
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By Brenda Norrell
HASKELL INDIAN NATIONS UNIVERSITY, Kansas -- Mona Polacca, Havasupai/Hopi, spoke at the Rights of Mother Earth Conference, about the foundation of life. From the first water inside the mother's womb, to the prayer upon which life depends, Polacca spoke of the spirituality of life.
People of the Blue Waters, People of Peace
Mona Polacca introduced herself as Havasupai, People of the Blue Waters, from the Water Clan. She is Hopi, People of Peace, and Tewa on paternal grandfather’s side. She is Sun Clan, Butterfly Clan and Tobacco Clan.
Polacca, one of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, began by remembering the words of Thomas Banyacya, "We are all related.”
Water, air, Grandfather Sun and Mother Earth
Polacca said at the time when we were inside our mother’s womb, that this was the “first foundation of life.”
“We were formed in water,” she said. “The water came out before us and we followed.”
“When we came into this world, the first thing we did was we took in air.”
“When we let out that air, we let out our first cry.”
“This is the air we breathe.”
Then, when your family took you outside for the first time, Grandfather Sun saw you, recognized you.
Then you were introduced to the fire of life
Then, when you were sitting up, experiencing your body from head to toe, you began using your backbone. On your stomach, you started crawling, crawling on Mother Earth, finding your way around.
Exploring, your caretaker stood you up on your two feet, stood you up and let go.
You experienced balance and connection to Mother Earth for the first time in your life. Then there was your first step. You began making your path, putting your footprints on Mother Earth.
"We are all related with all life being, from Mother Earth on up, all the way to the heavens."
“We have relied on these basic foundations of life.”
“It is life.”
“What is this spirituality, what is this sacredness?”
“It is life.”
Polacca spoke of how her family members refused to leave their home land in the Grand Canyon. A family member had to continuously occupy their little village in order to keep the National Park Service from coming in and bulldozing it down. The National Park Service cut off their water. Then, they had to carry their water. They had to make their own trail through the forest. But they remained.
Then, after 20 years, her family did get some of their land back. Now, they rely on their garden and the little creek that flows through to water their garden.
|Supai prayers for protection
from uranium mining
Red Butte Grand Canyon
Photo by Brenda Norrell
The water is going to flow down into the canyon, this canyon that was formed from the great Colorado River.
Polacca said even if they don’t care about the Havasupai, there are many people on the river who will be contaminated by the runoff from that uranium mining.
The smallest ear of corn
When Hopi selected corn, they chose the smallest ear of corn. This is humility.
Hopi don’t have water systems for irrigating their crops. They rely on their prayers.
“They rely on those instructions given to them when they first came into this world.”
“They rely on the blessing of the Rain People.”
“This is the existence of the people I come from.”
Polacca said when she became a woman, her mother told her she was in this world for a purpose and she had a responsibility.
Her mother told her, “Your responsibly is that you are a representation of our family, you are a representative of our community, you are a representative of our tribe, you are a representative our nations, you are a representative of our world and you are a representative of our universe.”
“You have a responsibility to take care of it.”
“When she said those things to me, I really believed those things she said to me.”
Her mother told her to be kind, to take care of herself and take care of others.
“Don’t fight with your brothers and sisters, they’re all you have.”
Her mother offered the water and the food to the earth, prayers and offering to ancestors who were here before us.
Her mother said, “They made a way for us, they made prayers for us.”
They prayed for the future generations.
Protecting the earth from uranium mining
Polacca said the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers support the Lakota grandmothers in the fight against uranium mining in Lakota country. They wrote the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and appealed to them on behalf of the grandchildren and the effects of exposure.
They also wrote to the uranium mining company.
“We didn’t get a response from that Canadian company.”
Polacca spoke on Thursday, April 5, the day when Hopi and Navajo protested the scheme to steal their water rights to the Little Colorado River. In Tuba City, Arizona, Hopi and Navajo protested Arizona Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl.
Polacca said that Hopi are protesting the scheme to force them to give up their water rights to the Little Colorado River in the so-called “water rights settlement.”
She said the real purpose of this settlement is to give the Salt River Project and Peabody Coal full benefit and use of this water.
“Today Hopi are protesting in Tuba City, raising their voice in protest of this bill.”
“I believe in prayer. This is the way the grandmothers do their work.”
“That is part of the uniqueness of who we are.”
Speaking of the sacredness of holy places and the places of origin, she said, “We can’t step over the line and apply western notions.”
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