Saving a Hopi Spring

A broken water jug?
Preserved elements of prehistoric stonework

Awatovi pottery decorated with black, red and yellow designs lined the top of the rock slab below the spring. Hopi maidens waited their turn to fill their family water pot in the cool shade of the willows nearby.

Drip, drip, drip. The cold, sparkling water slowly filled the cistern as water was withdrawn gallon by gallon. Another dry, thirsty day began in the old Hopi village of Awatovi.

This old spring has been providing water for over 420 years to humans, animals, birds and plants. Today, it remains a special place. We visited the spring with a family from Sichomovi Village who is trying desperately to preserve the spring, the old terrace gardens, natural wetland plants and pre-contact history. The time span of this place started from the settlement of Awatovi in the 1500’s to present year, 2020. It is amazing that it exists and it needs our help.

Terraced garden view from below mesa

The spring is located in a deep canyon on the Hopi Reservation. Driving on dirt roads requires a 4×4 vehicle as there are road washouts to cross. It is very difficult to bring materials and supplies to this location. Below the spring there are many dried out fruit trees, historic family homes, as well as the leaving behinds of the long gone Awatovi people. 

Below the springs you can see the rock walls of long ago terrace gardens, cisterns, water catchments, rock trails and pottery. Historic additions include fruit trees, fencing, water pipes, cement cistern and a nice cool patio for resting and eating.

Prehistoric terraces destroyed by cows

Without human care, the area below the spring becomes a wetland of native plants like willow and invasive trees of walnut and tamarisk. Keeping a plant root and wet sand in check is hard, physical work.

Finding the source of the sacred spring

Dorothy is a descendent of several generations who have taken care of this spring. Her intent on the day of our visit is to set her garlic bulbs for the fall planting. She contributes her terrace garden vegetables to the local food cooperative. Food security is very important to her. The spring fed gardens can provide a sustainable food source so long as time and effort is put into keep this place alive.

Setting garlic bulbs and harvesting wild onions
Job Almost Finished!

Dorothy has put effort into preserving a small portion of the old terraced gardens. Water is piped from the upper cistern into the terrace plots, a water hose delivers water as needed. The summer plants of corn have been harvested. We smell lemon cress, basil, wild onions, and flower plants for the bees and butterflies. 

Upper water cistern

The challenges for Dorothy are deer, squirrels, cows, rabbits and a mountain lion has been sighted on a nearby mesa. She cannot keep new fruit trees from being eaten by the deer without adequate fencing. 

The needs for this small scale farming of natural local foods are: fencing, mulch, fertilizer, trail work, rebuilding terrace walls, pipe repair, invasive plant removal and a new outhouse/wash station.

Dorothy welcomes a visitor who is willing to work for a meal of natural food from her garden. She will tell you the story of the place under the cool shade of the arbor.

Little Helper lends a hand

After a few hours of physical labor, you can rest under the walnut trees and meditate, enjoy the serenity of place and imagine or maybe hear the people of the past, laughing, talking and going up and down the trails to the gardens below. 

Terrace gardens view from the mesa top
Shady resting place

You can help. A small donation will help to keep this place alive for 100 more years. 

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Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Donations are via Stripe only or mail check to Paaqavi Inc., P.O. Box 1048, Hotevilla, AZ 86030. All donations are tax deductable. Usqwali.