Susan Sekaquaptewa. Courtesy photo.
Susan Sekaquaptewa. Courtesy photo.

Courtesy photo.Welcoming abundance through Hopi tradition and science

In winters past, locals in the know have enjoyed many cozy evenings “sitting at the feet” of diverse presenters sharing their specialized insight for coexisting on Earth. These annual Naturalist Nights, co-hosted by the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Wilderness Workshop and Roaring Fork Audubon Society, have traditionally been presented at the Third Street Center.

In a twist of COVID serendipity, you need not brave the icy nights this year. Instead, gather ’round in your jammies and pour yourself a bevvie to enjoy 2021’s intriguing line-up of speakers virtually. From indigenous farming to lynx and forest bathing, this year’s Naturalist Nights series offers five presentations, and a Spanish translation for each.

Thursday, Jan. 21 at 6 p.m., find inspiration in Susan Sekaquaptewa’s stories of her work with the Hopi tribal community. As a Hopi, she has dedicated her professional life to Indigenous agriculture and history. Sekaquaptewa earned her Bachelor of Science from Arizona State University, and a Master of Science from George Washington University. 

Sekaquaptewa melds both Hopi food tradition and research-driven science to teach others how to farm successfully in arid landscapes. These methods are of particular interest in the Roaring Fork Valley, where snowpack is decreasing, river levels are dropping and aridification continues to transform the West. 

When City Market shelves went empty amid COVID, Carbondalians were forced to examine the weaknesses in our local food systems. Produce from local farmers filled significant nutrition gaps in food banks, distributing food to those hit hardest. Sekaquaptewa is working to address this on the Hopi reservation, where the goal is increased self-sustainability for individuals and the collective community. 

Deeply rooted in her Hopi homeland, Sekaquaptewa is a mother and wife, certified organic gardener, food preserver, seed saver and founder of the Hopi Food Co-op. Balancing pride and wonder, she produces as much of her family’s food as she can. She has a lovely presence on Instagram, where her curiosity and traditional ecological knowledge are vivid in both word and image. She tends her own greenhouse, extensive outdoor vegetable beds, and dryland farm fields where she grows heirloom, indigenous and contemporary vegetables. With her husband and son, Sekaquaptewa raises both chickens and cattle. 

To sit in on her stories, pre-register at

Naturalist Nights 2021 Schedule

January 21

Merging Traditional and Modern Growing Methods for Food Sustainability

Susan Sekaquaptewa – Assistant Agricultural Agent, Hopi Tribe. University of Arizona Extension

February 4

Sharing the Same Slope: Can Canada Lynx and Winter Recreation Coexist?

Lucretia Olson – Ecologist, U.S. Forest Service

February 18

Forest Bathing in Your Own Wild Home

Melanie Choukas-Bradley – Certified Forest Bathing Guide

March 4

Colorado’s Record-setting 2020 Fire Season in the Context of the Past 6000 Years

Philip Higuera – Associate Professor of Fire Ecology