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Native Insights: Hopi Perspectives

Kyaptsi: “Respect” for Ancestral Connections Native Voices on the Colorado River ProgramHopi1
Written by: Lyle Balenquah (Hopi), Nikki Cooley (Navajo), and Joelle Clark (French).

Each year, members of the Hopi Tribe sponsored by the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, take a river trip into Grand Canyon. The tribe members come to monitor the effects of Glen Canyon dam on resources along the river corridor that remain an important part of Hopi culture.

“When we come to Grand Canyon there is great preparation that goes into coming down here… we bring offerings for allowing us to come through the passage of this place. We pray for all good things and humanity, great health and life, and abundance-ness from the rain so that all living species and people throughout the world can prosper from the growth.” – Merv Yoytewa, Hopi.

Hopi society consists of a diverse set of histories ideas and beliefs with over 30 Hopi clans distributed among three mesas and 13 villages. Some clans have very direct ties to the Canyon, often based in epic pilgrimages walking nearly 100 miles from their homes on the Mesas to sacred places in Grand Canyon.

Today, when a Hopi person visits cultural sites, we don’t simply see the remnants of a bygone era, we see reflections of who we once were and what we have now become. We witness the artistic and technical accomplishments of our Hopi ancestors and we recall their spiritual accomplishments as well. We are reminded that in order for the present generations of Hopi to prosper, we are dependent upon the gifts of our departed ancestors. In essence, by acknowledging our ancestors existence, they acknowledge ours through the answering of our prayers.

Hopis are a living culture. Hopis view our lifeways as a continuation over time, constantly evolving with the interactions within our environment. Kyaptsi means respect. Maintaining the living culture of Hopi requires respect, not simply saying the word, but putting the word into meaning. One way we Hopi do this is through the continued practice of our culture. By coming to Grand Canyon and retracing our ancestors footprints either by a walking pilgrimage or a rafting trip.

The modern Hopi tribal presence within the Canyon has helped show the outside world, what we have always known; We Are The Canyon.

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