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Our Purpose Statement

To clean First Mesa of trash from top to bottom.  

The Hopi Senom (people) made an agreement and commitment to care for this world and all living things with respect and to live humbly.  It is in this same spirit, a community grassroots group has come together to take action with the vision: Through discipline and responsibility we will preserve the sacredness of our Hopi and Tewa Villages. 


Tutskwat Oqawtoynani, formerly known as First Mesa Annual Cleanup, started organizing cleanups as early as 2016 due to the excessive accumulation of trash on the sides of the mesa. This trash covers up ancient foot trails and ceremonial pathways surrounding the mesa that served as crucial routes for thousands of years. Sakhongvaiya, (Green Tobacco standing in a row) a prominent Hopi elder, Leon A. Nuvayestewa Sr., declared that if "no one was going to do anything about the trash, he would!" This declaration marked the beginning of our humble efforts to clean our mesa home. 

Our Approach

To date we are the only organization on Hopi who is addressing the trash problem on the sides of the mesas.  Most of the Villages across Hopi are cleaning on the tops of their own individual mesas and areas but they are not yet at the capacity to clean the mesas from top to bottom as we are currently attempting to.  By modeling and taking action on how we are pushing through challenges within First Mesa, we hope to inspire other villages to do the same.  We were also happy that we were able to push through and cleanup a pile of trash below the backside of Tewa Village that was hindering our progress.  In previous years we always stopped as this area, as the trash was always overwhelming.  We made three concentrated efforts with our family/friends in 2021 and we were able to clean most of the trash in that area.  We are now able to move forward again and begin cleaning on the back side of Sichomovi Village, which is the middle village on the top of First Mesa.  


Our organization encountered significant internal family hardships in 2023 that necessitated prioritizing our father's recovery, which impacted our planned cleanups. However, our younger members stepped up and worked with environmental groups to coordinate clean-up events in the early part of the year. For the rest of the year, we adapted our programming and collaborated with environmental groups to schedule clean-ups according to their schedules, which, unfortunately meant weekdays instead of weekends. We recognize that scheduling weekend clean-ups is critical to maximizing community involvement, which we plan to do for 2024. Partnering with outside environmental organizations allowed us to focus on our core volunteers to reduce burnout and promote self-care, which is vital for sustainability. Additionally, we collaborated with the villages of Sichomovi and Tewa during ceremonies to minimize trash dumping. Despite the challenges we encountered, we are proud of organization's resilience and ability to adapt while continuing to serve our community. 

Originally the goal was to accomplish this effort within ten years, but the reality of the amount of trash that exists has extended the timeline well beyond ten years. Shortening the time will be dependent on community involvement and continued funding.  Systemic challenges of erosion have been unveiled on the sides of the mesa and the need for restoration and erosion control is evident and yet to be explored.  This has called for stronger partnerships within the villages (Tewa, Sichomovi, Walpi) to assess the erosion and understand the depth of the issue as we begin to explore the resources necessary to support our efforts.

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Virtual and In-person Cleanups 


Programming for was hybrid during the pandemic. We are now gathering and cleaning in groups again. We find ways to engage the public and inspire them.

to clean on their own!

Community Planning Meetings

Planning meetings are held before every cleanup, with several teams focused on the successful implementation of event strategies and protocols.  


Zip lines have been used under the watchful eye of Ancestral Lands to help move larger items of trash off the sides of the mesa.  

The Hopi People

The Hopi Tribe is a sovereign nation located in northeastern Arizona. The reservation occupies part of Coconino and Navajo counties, encompasses more than 1.5 million acres, and is made up of 12 villages. Over the centuries we have survived as a tribe, and to this day have managed to retain our culture, language and religion."(Hopi Tribal Website)

Influences from the outside world and historical trauma have since changed our way of life. It is time to remember our sacred covenant with Maasaw, the ancient caretaker of the earth, to live as peaceful and humble farmers respectful of the land and its resources.

Tutskwat Oqawtoynani, formerly known as First Mesa Annual Cleanup, began organizing cleanups as early as 2016 due to the overwhelming amount of trash that was accumulating on the sides of the mesa. Trash covered up ancient foot trails and ceremonial pathways that surround the mesa. For thousands of years, foot trails in the southwest served as important routes which led to sacred places where prayers and offerings are deposited. Whatever the purpose, trails enabled the ancient people of the southwest to travel extensively across the landscape and are considered the bloodlines of our ancestors.


By cleaning the trash, we are helping the earth to breath and thus bring forth natural food to grow again. Hopi has a symbiotic relationship with our plants and animals, we cannot have a complete ceremony without them. We must clean our lands for the sake of future generations. We must begin to work together on a decade of implementation so we can walk into the future, with the earth as our foundation. Our father, Sakhongvaiya, quoted Woody Allen saying that "Eighty percent of Success is showing up!"

Our primary area of service is First Mesa, Arizona, approximately 120 miles from Flagstaff and 73 miles from Winslow, Arizona. 

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