Utes bless the Animas River — The Durango Herald

“Water is life; water is sacred,” said Southern Ute Sun Dance Chief Kenny Frost, who led a ceremony to heal the Animas River on Sunday at sunrise at Santa Rita Park in Durango
“Water is life; water is sacred,” said Southern Ute Sun Dance Chief Kenny Frost, who led a ceremony to heal the Animas River on Sunday at sunrise at Santa Rita Park in Durango

From The Durango Herald (Mary Shinn):

As the Animas River reflected the golden Sunday sunrise, Kenny Frost and Lyndreth Wall, prayed that the waterway would heal from recent heavy-metal pollution.

“Water is life; water is sacred,” said Frost, a Southern Ute Sun Dance Chief.

A heron soared over the river, as Frost and Wall, a Ute Mountain Ute, sang and prayed in Ute for the river.

About 20 people from all over the region came to be a part of the blessing at Santa Rita Park. At the same time, groups in other parts of the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Germany and Canada also prayed for the health of local and global waterways.

Frost hopes the blessing of the river can lead to an annual Indigenous Water Prayer Day, which would be held on the third Sunday of August. Internationally, it would draw attention to rivers and other waterways at risk from pollution. Locally, it would be a reminder of how the river ran orange this month and the potential for it to happen again.

“The danger is still there,” he said…

“We’re not going to blame anyone because we want to keep everything positive,” Frost said.

However, he did express skepticism about the safety of the river water, noting ongoing health advisories. Everyone is still advised to wash with soap and water after coming in contact with discolored river sediment.

He also highlighted the hardship that the pollution caused for those in New Mexico and on the Navajo Nation, where communities temporarily lost their water source for crops and livestock after the spill…

After songs and prayer, Frost closed the ceremony by inviting everyone to bless the river by pouring in bottles of pure water and sprinkling handfuls of crushed corn over it.

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