Hopi runners in green shirts came in through Chapultepec Park and came to a stop in front of the statue of Tlaloc – the ancient spirit of water and rain.
There, they were received by traditional leaders and elders, marking the end of their two-week, 2,000-mile historic water run into Mexico-Anahuac. During the ceremony, they were also greeted by a descending eagle.
It will probably take years to fully comprehend the significance of some 60 members of the Hopi Nation in Mexico (more than half of them runners) delivering a message to the world regarding the sacredness of water.
The runners came from 12 desert villages, some of which, such as Oraibi, are actually older than Tenochtitlan, founded in 1325 A.D. In the Hopi mesas, the water is scarce and threatened by mining corporations that for decades have extracted and contaminated their underground waters. Despite this, their maize grows. Always.
I left to my birthplace of Anahuac, spur of the moment to witness the end of this historic run in the midst of the most intense anti-immigrant hysteria in decades. The pending draconian legislation before Congress has in turn spurred on massive mobilizations by Mexican/Central and South American peoples – by peoples of all colors – demanding that they be treated not as aliens or criminals, but as full human beings.
Yet, in the midst of these huge nationwide protests, something beckons me to the land of Quetzalcoatl.
The Hopi runners, with indisputable ties and connections with the peoples of Anahuac, came with water, prayers, maize, cornmeal, staffs and feathers from many nations. The message was simple: “Water is the sustenance of all life … To threaten water is to threaten all life.”
The runners began their trek in northern Arizona, through New Mexico, all the way down to the 4th annual World Water Forum in Mexico City. And while not officially received, they were not deterred. (A massive anti-water privatization protest also greeted the forum.)
On every stop, there was talk of prophecies, migrations and ancient connections. And they are greeted, not with a welcome, but with a “welcome home. These are your lands and your waters.”
Wherever they went, dances, prayers, songs, ceremonies, gifts, stories, water and food were exchanged. They trekked to the 2,000-year-old city of Teotihuacan, where the temples of the sun, moon and Venus (Quetzalcoatl) are housed. They also made pilgrimage to the lands of Mexico’s volcanoes in Puebla, where El Popo spewed out a plume during Hopi dances. They also journeyed to Temoaya, the Otomie ceremonial grounds, where they also met up with Otomie and Incaica relatives.
Everywhere they went, the runners were treated with utmost respect and great reverence, particularly the elders. Many of those with whom they met acknowledged that they are related and that the Hopi represent memory. The people do not need linguists, archaeologists or anthropologists to affirm this. The stories, the common languages, the water and the maize communicate this same message: San ce tojuan. Ti masehualme, okichike ka centeotzintli: We are one. We are macehual, made from sacred maize.
In late-night conversations, I was told of the two years of planning and sacrifice and of the many obstacles and challenges of the run. However, all will become lost in the mist of time. What will be remembered instead is that the runners have created, healed and reunited history. Some will say they have fulfilled prophecy, the coming together of the eagle and the condor … cuahu and kuntur.
Oral traditions speak of the Hopi being the oldest peoples of the continent and of never having surrendered their sovereignty to anyone. And indeed, they are accorded this respect across the continent. It was amazing to see this unfold before my very eyes when the runners were obstinately prevented from leaving Mexico because most had come in without passports or visas. And yet, even in times of high levels of security, Hopi ID was sufficient; they prevailed.
The Hopi left huge footprints in Anahuac (as seen in our ancient amoxtlis, or painted books) and a special message for humanity. Yet another message was also received … just as Hopi are free to travel across artificial borders, so too, one day will their relatives. Tojuan titehuaxkalo panin pacha mama.
To contact the H2opi run organizers: Ruben Saufkie Sr., P.O. Box 901, Second Mesa, AZ 86043 (928) 734-5438; or Vernon Masayesva, Black Mesa Trust, P.O. Box 33, Kykotsmovi, AZ 88630, (928) 734-9255 or www.BlackMesaTrust.org.
Roberto Rodriguez, a nationally syndicated Xicano columnist, can be contacted at XColumn@aol.com or (608) 238-3161.