Thursday, February 26, 2009

Black Mesa Water Conference in Flagstaff, Arizona

Black Mesa Water Conference April 2009
For Immediate Publication
Contact: Vernon Masayesva, (928) 255-2356

Native American traditional spiritual leaders, artists and scientists and their Western counterparts will come together in Flagstaff, Ariz., on April 6-7, 2009, to create a new vision of leadership and responsibility as the world faces the challenges of water scarcity, energy production and global warming in these troubled times. The Braiding Conference, so named because participants will braid together knowledge from a wide spectrum of cultures and disciplines, is expected to be the first round of an on-going conversation.

The Braiding Conference is sponsored by Black Mesa Trust, a Hopi grassroots organization dedicated to preserving water resources; it is funded by the Christensen Fund. The overall purpose of the conference is "to enhance understanding of the world in which we live and to demonstrate the power and reverence traditional teachings and science bring to bear," said Black Mesa Trust Executive Director Vernon Masayesva.

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in California has provided funding for scholarships for Hopi and Navajo students and honorariums for their teachers. Fifteen $300 scholarships will go to Hopi high school students, and 15 to Navajo students. Five Hopi and five Navajo teachers will each be awarded a $500 honorarium to attend the conference and to help support the post-conference development of curricula based on the information they learn there.

The Braiding Conference hopes "to demonstrate to Native youth the significant contributions of their tradition and to encourage them to pursue purposeful learning of Western science, technology and mathematics as well as their own traditions of knowing and ancestral wisdom," said Masayesva.


Internationally acclaimed scientists, teachers and artists, including water science pioneer Masaru Emoto, are featured in the film “What the BLEEP Do We Know!?” Quiet Axis creator, painter and environmental/space artist Lowry Burgess of Carnegie Mellon University and artist/muralist Michael Kabotie of the Hopi Tribe will soon gather with Hopi traditional leaders and teachers, including Keeper of the Pipe Jerry Honawa and former Hopi Chairman Vernon Masayesva, to explore what new paradigms of understanding arise from the braiding of Western and traditional Hopi sciences.

Through dialogue and explorations focused on the two systems of knowing and their unique approaches to the nature, actions and teachings of water, 16 distinguished core dialogue participants and conference attendees will share knowledge and experience to generate new understandings of the world we live in. The dialogue and discussions will be held April 6-7 in Flagstaff, Ariz., and will be led by Leroy Little Bear, former director of Native Studies at Harvard University and 2003 Canadian Aboriginal Person of the Year.

Unlike efforts to blend traditions, work at the conference will be more akin to the way in which dark and light threads are bound together before being woven into Hopi fabric. Like that single black and white strand – that strand that gives to Hopi weaving its unique character and endurance – the system of inquiry developed through conference dialogue will draw strength and quality from its respect for the integrity of traditional and Western approaches. As with all Hopi weaving, the work will draw energy from the optimistic hope of the weaver that the braiding of two into one will yield a singularity stronger, more beautiful, and more responsive to contemporary need and challenge than could be created from either on its own.

Conference registration will be limited to 200 persons. It will include both adult learners and some 40 indigenous youth whose attendance is intended to deepen their appreciation of traditional science and knowing, enhance their sense of identity, and promote more purposeful learning, especially in science and mathematics, as prerequisites for their effective leadership of their people in the years ahead.

Registration forms and information are available by e-mail at or by mail at BMT Braiding Conference, P.O. Box 30396, Flagstaff, AZ 86003, and at the Black Mesa Trust Web site, Registration for the Conference including all meals, banquet attendance and materials is $175, which may be paid by check or by credit card through PayPal.

Other members of the core group of dialogue participants include: Angelita Borbon, Pasqua Yaqui practitioner of sacred science and Mesoamerican oral traditions; Phillip Duran, physicist and former dean of science and mathematics at Northwest Indian College; Alan Hamilton, president of Rio Grande Return; Rabbi Nina Perlmutter, emeritus faculty and former chair, Philosophy and Religious Studies, Yavapai College; Al Qöyawayma, Hopi scientist, engineer and artist; Thomas Sisk, professor of Ecology and graduate programs director, Center for Sustainable Environments, Northern Arizona University; and Eric Weislogel, executive director of Metanexus Institute, an international transdisciplinary network in science and religion.

The conference is sponsored by Black Mesa Trust, Northern Arizona University, the Museum of Northern Arizona and others. Funding for the conference is provided by the Christensen Fund, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, the SB Foundation, and others, including individuals. Persons and institutions interested in providing additional support to expand conference access and opportunity or to underwrite the work of Black Mesa Trust generally can contact Black Mesa Trust Executive Director Vernon Masayesva at


To learn more about the conference, scholarships and honoraria, contact Vernon Masayesva, (928) 255-2356,

Tanya Lee

(603) 377-0267

7270 Slayton Ranch Road
Flagstaff, AZ 86004

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