In the language of the Hopi, the word for water is kuuyi.
Access to safe drinking water is something many Americans take for granted, but the majority of people living in the sovereign nation of the Hopi Tribe in northeastern Arizona are living without this basic necessity.
The main water source for the tribe is a natural aquifer that has been overused, and due to low water levels, now contains dangerous levels of arsenic and uranium. According to the World Health Organization, long-term exposure to arsenic from drinking water and food can cause cancer and skin lesions. Arsenic has also been associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which have been plaguing the Hopi nation. There is now an average lifespan of only 45 years for Hopi citizens living on tribal lands.
In keeping with our mission to provide health and wellness for all, the ISA Foundation has partnered with tribal representatives, Airline Ambassadors International, and the Clean Water Foundation to help bring clean water to the Hopi people.
The ISA Foundation helps provide clean water
When the ISA Foundation learned of this issue in our home state of Arizona from our partner, Airline Ambassadors International, we didn’t hesitate to get involved. Representatives from the ISA Foundation and Airline Ambassadors International joined tribal members Ernest Taho and Albert Cassini in central Arizona in October to learn about the struggle and provide a two-year solution for Hopi families.
The closest source of clean water for the Hopi people is a four-hour round-trip drive from the reservation. Tribal members are aware of dangerous contaminants in their water and are forced to either make the four–hour trip or solely drink bottled water. Both options are costly, time–consuming, and dangerous amid a global pandemic.
“When you work with water one on one,” said Albert, “you find that it can save you or kill you. It’s alive, just like you.”
With the help of the Clean Water Foundation, an organization that specializes in providing safe, clean drinking water to underserved populations worldwide, the Hopi people will now have access to tabletop solar and reverse osmosis water filtration units. The solar units pump water from the faucet into a chamber that uses ultraviolet light to kill contaminants, while the reverse osmosis filters strain the water using a thin membrane that catches the contaminants and allows the clean water to pass through.
Inspired to make a difference
Both filtration units retail for around $900 each. It would not have been possible to provide these lifesaving devices to the Hopi had it not been for the generosity of ISA Foundation donors, including Ronda Coallier and her mother, Nancy Lucarelli. Ronda shared what inspired her to bring her mother from Florida to Sedona, Arizona, to assist in bringing clean water to the Hopi.
“After participating in the meaningful impact of a project in El Salvador earlier this year with the same partners, I knew this project would impact lives in a profound way. Learning about the need directly from those who are experiencing this inequality was heart–wrenching, but knowing that we could do something to help is what drives me to get involved.”
Ronda wasn’t the only person inspired by the event. After hearing of the great need in the Hopi Tribe from Albert and Ernest, Nancy personally purchased an additional water filtration unit to be delivered to Albert’s own mother.
Although the struggle for clean water for the Hopi is not over, the installation of the filtration systems is a major step in the right direction to ensure the health of the tribe and the future of the Hopi people. To all of our generous donors who are making this future possible, we offer you a hearty askwali and kwakwhay, the Hopi words for “thank you.”