Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

August 22, 2013

Hopi Paatuwaqatsi 'Water is Life' Run Sept. 14, 2013

Photo Paatuwaqatsi
Runners and Public Invited 
to 10TH Annual
Paatuwaqatsi (Water is Life) Run
Hopi Trail Run Celebrates Sanctity of Water

Censored News
POLACCA, Ariz—On September 14, 2013, runners and their supporters from around the world will gather on Hopi’s First Mesa to celebrate and commemorate the sanctity of water in the 10th annual Water is Life run. This year’s run includes a 30-mile ultra-run, a 10-mile loop and 4-mile fun run.  The night before runners and their guests are invited to a spaghetti dinner, hosted by the Grand Canyon Trust, to learn about the Paatuwaqatsi Run from Hopi organizers.
Bucky Preston, founder of the Paatuwaqatsi Run, which is translated in Hopi as, “Water is Life,” reminds the runners that this event is not a race. “Paatuwaqatsi,” he said, “is a remembrance run; the run formed to keep the ancient trails ‘alive’. The Hopi’s believe that the trails are the veins of the village. Therefore carrying on the traditional values by utilizing the trails the villagers keep them open, this helps to keep the village alive and brings the clouds.”

The Paatuwaqatsi Run is based on traditional cultural values to remind the Hopi community of these teachings. This event is also open to the public to promote learning and sharing about the roles that water and running play in the Hopi belief system. The event also raises awareness about threats to Hopi springs from coal mining on Black Mesa.
Preston explains, “This run was something that I had always wanted to do for many years. We are forgetting our Hopi values. We are forgetting to help each other out. I want to see that effort return to our community. Putting Hopi life values and teaching at the forefront is the purpose of the run. Why are we taught to run early in the morning? Because running not only strengthens you physically, it strengthens you spiritually. A runner would take one of the many foot trails from the village in the early morning to a spring, take a drink from the spring and sprinkle himself with the cold water. This gave that person strength and provided healing for any ailments. Everything at Hopi involves water—water is life. Now, water is being abused and is depleting. In some places, it is gone and I want to bring awareness to the people.”
Preston reminds the participants that this event is very important to him for several reasons. One main reason is to implement Hopi teachings about water, because this is a very spiritual run. He said, “I work very hard every year to prepare for this run because it gets bigger every year. We always need help fixing miles and miles of trail and it really is a year around job.”
After runners cross the finish line everyone will feast on a traditional Hopi meal while traditional prizes are given to the runners who gave their best during the prayer run.
Bucky said, “It is a very important run for me because we (the Hopi people) must insure the runners understand the importance of water. I put my best effort forward, it is not for me, I do it for the people. I get very emotional when I see people come from far way places. They are very spiritual and very respectful. They come back every year and they are very thankful. It makes me feel joy in my heart that there are people that are very understanding about the importance of water.”
The free spaghetti dinner for runners will start at Friday, September 13th, 5:30pm at the corner of Highways 264 and 87 in the parking lot of the Second Mesa Post Office.
The Ultra Run begins on Saturday, September 14th at 6:00 am, the 10 mile loop begins at 7:00 am and the 4 mile fun run begins 8:00 am. Look for signs off Highway 264 at milepost 390 west of Polacca to find the run site and campsites.  
For more information or to register for the run, log onto
Grand Canyon Trust is looking for volunteers to help with trail work and event support September 12-14. Contact a volunteer coordinator at 928.774.7488 or to sign up.

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