Dark Days on Black Mesa

The Hopi want one of the largest coal mines in North America to stop using their groundwater. If springs and wells dry up, their ancient culture may disappear.

And now, the Hopi tribe faces another crucial moment in its long history.
"I just can't have trust in anyone who, in my opinion, is not neutral. I don't think Judge Nelson can be, regardless of what he says. In any other situation, it would not be acceptable," Masayesva says.

But this isn't "any other situation"--this is Black Mesa.

Most Hopi ceremonies revolve around prayers for rain.
"We are praying for the cycle of nourishment for all life," says Gloria Lomahaftewa, assistant to the director of Native American affairs at the Heard Museum in Phoenix.

The prayers for rain never stop, even in death.
Hopi tradition, Lomahaftewa says, states that when a wife dies, she should be wrapped in her wedding robes for her ride back to heaven. There she will be turned into a cloud.

If she has led a good life, she will return a great blessing to her people.
She will transform into a cloudburst.

John Dougherty is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times, where this story first appeared.

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