Hopi Film, the Indigenous Aesthetic and Environmental Justice: Victor Masayesva, Jr.'s Paatuwaqatsi Water, Land and Life

Martin Padget

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Since the early 1980s, the Hopi filmmaker and photographer Victor Masayesva Jr. has played an influential role in Native American multimedia production in the United States. This article examines Masayesva's film Paatuwaqatsi: Water, Land and Life (2007), which documents a 1,650-mile run made by Hopis from their home villages in Northern Arizona to Mexico City in early 2006. The run marked the closure of the Mohave Generating Station in southern Nevada and the Black Mesa coal mine which fuelled the power plant. It also celebrated the shutting down of the controversial coal slurry pipeline between the plant and mine that required for its operation the pumping of 1.2 billion gallons of pristine water annually from the Navajo Aquifer, which lies under the homelands of the Hopi and Navajo nations. The article explains how Hopis' affective relationship with place is put into action through the acts of running, prayer and personal sacrifice. It reviews Masayesva’s filmmaking career to date and considers his core idea of the indigenous aesthetic, a set of principles that has guided the practical decisions and artistic choices he has made in the course of over thirty years' working as an independent media producer. After a close analysis of selected scenes in Paatuwaqatsi, the article concludes by noting, first, how the film negotiates internal divisions within Hopi society over development and environmental issues and, second, how it engages the impact of continuing drought and ongoing climate change on the American Southwest.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-384
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of American Studies
Volume47
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2013

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