Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

September 15, 2013

Photo Hopi Paatuwaqatsi Run: 'Pray for water!'

The Hopi run began with these words, "Pray for water," and a huge turnout on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Photo by Andy Bessler, thank you!

The Paatuwaqatsi Run began with these words, "Pray for water," as runners began the Water is Life Run on Saturday.
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, Preston said in a statement
Photo Andy Bessler 2013
“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.”

For more information or to register for the run, log onto

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