Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Miguel Méndez, from Pilgrims in Aztlán

We were living in the desert. Dry land, as greedy as a mother without teats, under a sky that was like a magnifying glass, at the foot of slopes so rocky that from a distance they looked like they were covered with petrified turtles. My younger brothers and I had a little friend we adored, a little stream. It rolled down in a curve to where we lived from a hillside that at night turned into a mountain. Its pebbles were toys that we loved so much. We played with it every day, caressing its dream until one day the miracle of the rain would awaken it. Then, lively, naughty, noisy, it would run like we did, joyfully. When we caught sight of the rain, we would run to meet it. It’s looking for us! Would you like to play with us, little stream? Yes, yes, let’s go play! You know something? The water is like a magician or a fairy godmother. It’s colorless, takes on the color of things, tastes like life, and brings forth the voice of nature in everything it touches. As it rushed downhill, we would hear the scrub brush and the branches drinking eagerly, thirstily. It would conjure up the whistling of the large and calcinated stones. When the current spread out, the little stones, half out of the water, would sing together a sweet song of babies dressed in white. We would run to meet it. And in order to get down to where it was flat, we would wait at a two-meter waterfall that took the water over an enormous crag, which slapped strongly like a dry tongue and then noisily continued to drink. We continued to run.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Miguel Méndez, from Pilgrims in Aztlán

It was in those days that I crossed the Bacatete range. I spent four days and four nights contemplating the rocks down a ravine, the trees, the animals in the hills, the sky, the riverbeds, and everything that I am and what I do not know. I knew then that I’m an old tree, very old, and you can’t imagine the sap that flowed within me. In my arms, on my shoulders, in my hair, a symphony of birds lived. I felt myself happy, very happy, in spite of how those were the days when the sun hurled its columns of fire at the earth. The nights were cool to me because I went about naked like an animal. You see, I would begin to sing out of happiness, and my voice would go out from the throat of the canyons to fly among the valleys. Have you ever felt yourself to be a raging river? How marvelous it feels! You come down from the heights, roaring like a bull, carrying along with you the dry, useless branches, bringing the greenery to life, and you carry along in your current the seeds for those same trees withered by the years to be born again, just like you were a stream of life. It doesn’t take long for you to feel like a tree yourself at the same time you’re a riverbed. You also feel like a deer when you see them running like they were flying with those horns that in reality are dismembered wings. I sat down to think, wanting to know about the rocks and the sky, when all of a sudden I began to feel myself full of thorns, and why not, since I was made of juicy pulp, full of sap and chlorophyll. If you want to feel like something really, really beautiful, pretend you are a prickly pear.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tony Shearer, Interview (1986)

Tony Shearer, "The Vision of Salavi," from Lord of the Dawn (1971)

Salavi left the Temple of Quetzacoatl
                        And went into the barracks
                        of the Nonoalca
                        And chose twenty of them
                        To go forth into all parts
                        Of the land,
                        To the extent of all directions
                        And to tell
                        Everyone they encountered
                        He would soon be on Earth.

He reminded them that
                        No one will believe you.
                        Is exactly as it is meant to be."
                        Salavi laughed.
                        Tell them anyway,
                        Tell them once more,
                        Tell them they have been told---

Salavi then returned to
                        The Temple of the Dawn
                        And prepared for
                        A vision.

                        Four days he fasted in the Temple,
                        No food
                        No water
                        No words from his lips
                        No sleep.

                        He rested
                        Slept for a full night
                        Arose in the morning before the sunlight
                        Ate raw fruit
                        Drank of the cactus tea
                        Drank of Water.

                        He cried for the vision.
                        His song was heard throughout the city.
                        And all who heard
                        Knew why.
                        No one understood the words
                        To the Ancient Chant.
                        Those words, and
                        That song
                        Were said to
                        Have come from another world.
                        A world now buried beneath
                        The rolling tides of salt water
                        In the
                        Great Eastern Sea,
                        And now known only by
                        The elders of the
                        Council of Quetzalcoatl.

"Evoke the nether world,
Evoke the spirit of the Earth Mother,
The voice of the Clouds,
Evoke the Heart of Heaven
The Heart of the Earth,
And quest for the hidden words."

Salavi's vision came from
                        An ancient tree.
                        A tree
                        He had never seen
                        Had often heard about.

                        The vision came
                        Through the branches
                        Of the tree
                        He wondered
                        If this could be
                        The "Tree of Life."

                        The answer came back

                        He questioned
                        Of Mixcoatl
                        And the Chichimeca.
                        The answer
                        Came from the roots of the Great Tree,
                        Came to him
                        In this way.

"The Chichimeca are as much a part of this story
                        As is
                        The Feathered Serpent.
                        Without them
                        The Manifestation
                        Would not be true,
                        Would not be complete,

                        The Chichimeca are
                        From a faraway land
                        On the other side of your Earth-land,
                        On the other side of your Earth-mother,
                        And they,
                        Like you
                        Are very important
                        To the Creation of All Things.

                        People of Dog Lineage,
                        Descendant of a man called Dog.
                        This man
                        Was a most important
                        servant of the Creation
                        In another time,
                        And they,
                        The Chichimeca
                        Are his descendants.

                        Mixcoatl was
                        Their Gifted One,
                        The last
                        Of their seed.
                        Is the Burning Bush
                        Of This Land.

                        Cloud Serpent,
                        Milky Way,
                        Tree of the Sky,
                        You can be sure that
                        He was faithful
                        To his very death."

The vision became bright now, and continued
                        "Tezcatlepoca is not a Chichimeca idea,
                        He belongs to your people.
                        He is blood thirsty
                        That is because
                        The people want blood,
                        He is a God
                        An idol
                        A creation of man.
                        He comes
                        Your choise of
                        The first two heavens.

                        Know him well,
                        Learn his habits,
                        Learn his power,
                        Has created him
                        Will be here
                        The end of the Ninth Hell.
                        He will remove his mask
                        You will be surprised
                        He really is."

The vision had passed.

The Little People,
                        The Pockwatchies
                        And the Tlaloques
                        From hill to hill,
                        Every moon-bathed path they went,
                        Singing a new song,
                        One never heard before,
                        Not even by them.
                        On and on they went
                        Through woods
                        And over desert,
                        Singing as they danced.
                        The Pockwatchies,
                        The Little People
                        Were thrilled with the news of
                        They carried the news
                        From hill to hill
                        From wood to wood.

In their tiny hearts they knew what was coming.
                        Little guardians of the Earth
                        That one day
                        Would have to face
                        The brunt of man's ignorance,
                        They danced on
                        And singing
                        Of the wonders of the Creator,
                        For they knew that

                        All things that must be
                        Must be in balance

                        That takes practice.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Herbert Joseph Spinden, from Songs of the Tewa (1933)

This ki kha’a or shouting song is sung by men at work in the fields or coming home from the hunt. It refers to the annual rabbit drive and the places mentioned are favorite hunting places of the San Juan Indians corresponding to the four directions. The Road of Magic is the Road of Life. But also it runs before the cradle and beyond the grave and is travelled by the souls of the unborn and the ghosts of the dead. Along this Magic Road come the Rain Gods, passing through lakes that are gateways of the underworld.
Owe P’in tsä âkonu
Yonder-at Mountain-white Plain
He häyago he mbo’o
Long-ago-very it was good.
O’ke ’anyu O’ke ’enu nda
San Juan girls San Juan boys and
Ndi arang yi nde’e
They used to walk together.
Haran Tsi p’o na k’o inge
Where Magic-road its-lying-at.
Owe Yo phe âkonu . . . . .
Yonder-at Cactus-stalk Plain
Owe Thun’un p’i âkonu . . . . .
Yonder-at Painted-mountain Plain.
Näwe Wombi ri âkonu
Here-at Medicine-hill Plain
Ho’o ngi arang yi’i
Now we walk together
O’ke ’anyu O’ke ’enu nda
San Juan girls San Juan boys and
Ho’o ngi arang yi’i
Now we walk-together
Haran Tsi p’o na k’o inge
Where Magic-road its-lying at.
The comparison of a maiden and a flower is perhaps as old as any form of poetic speech. Yet one may wonder whether the excessive use of "flowery speech" by the Aztecs may not have set a fashion which spread to the north.
I give the Tewa words with the stress accents:
Sú K’wa K’e wé na póvi tshá nde
In póvi, in póvi, ndo mú iri
Kányi na nándi na ré si tä!
In póvi, in póvi, ndo mú iri
Ts’e, okí, t’agi, na póvi tshá.
At Su k’wa k’e there used to bloom a flower—
That flower, that flower, whene’er I see it now
Alas, so far away, why then I weep;
That flower, that flower, whene’er I see it now,
For yellow, fresh and full-blown once it bloomed.
This song is sung by children at play.
Sagi wo nging povi sa,
Mbe ndu nde’e nging povi sa,
P’o pe’e nging povi sa,
I ’ang ho’ nging povi sa.
Prettily we wear flowers.
Little flowers of the muskmelon we wear,
Little flowers of the watermelon we wear,
So now we wear flowers.
The K’osa or Delight Makers belong to three orders, the Kwirana K’osa, the Tewa K’osa and the Tema K’osa. This initiation chant of the Kwirana K’osa expresses the high spiritual purpose of these sacred clowns. It seems that the institution is distributed among all the village Indians of the Southwest. Mrs. Matilda Cox Stephenson gives ceremonial material on the Kwirana organization at Sia and I quote for comparison part of a song secured by her:
White floating clouds, clouds like plains,
Sun, Moon, Puma, Bear, Badger, Wolf
Eagle, Shrew, Elder War Hero, Younger War Hero,
Warrior of the North, Warrior of the West,
Warrior of the South, Warrior of the East,
Warrior of the Above, Warrior of the Below,
Medicine Water Bowl, Cloud Bowl, Ceremonial Water Bowl,
I make a road of meal, the ancient road, the ancient road.
At the Hopi villages the order is called Pai-a kya-muh according to Fewkes (A Journal of American Ethnology II pp. 10–11), a name which seems to have been derived from Than phaiya tchamu of the Tewa text. Of course Hano on the First Mesa is really a Tewa village.
Näwe ho’o we ma’a na imbi sendo’in
Here-at now we bring you Oh our old men
Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa tsâ wä’in
Sun-fire- deity Cloud person blue
Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa tse’nyin
Sun-fire- deity Cloud person yellow.
Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa p’i’in
Sun-fire- deity Cloud person red
Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa tsä’in
Sun- fire- Cloud person white
Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa nu khu win
Sun-fire deity Cloud person dark
Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa tsä neg’in
Sun-fire-deity Cloud person all colors
Nä we we ma’a ho’o ovi pi tuwä phe
Here at we bring you now your heart-hunt-stick
O mi gi’in ovi p’o sa k’u wiri
We make it for you tobacco to smoke
O mi gi’in ovi khu khi ko puri
We make it for you cornmeal to eat
Hâ wo’a omi gi’in ovi
Little bit for all we make it for you
Thamu khe nyi ye’gi’in p’in piye p’in k’eri
At dawn ready to walk be northward mountain top
Tso mpi ye hwage yoge p’in k’eri
Westward lakewards great mountain top
O ko mpiye tshu sogi p’in k’eri
Southward where the Shu sit mountain top
Than piye thamu yogi p’in k’eri
Eastward dawn-great mountain top
Opa makori p’in k’eri
Universe-sky mountain top
Nan soge nuge p’in k’eri
Earth-sit-under-at mountain top
Okhuwa povi phi si ni nge p’i
Cloud flowers that are not barren
Oving okhuwa povi pi ye iwe
You-them cloud flowers when you bring there-at
We to p’in piye p’in k’eri
Far off northward mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at
Tsom piye p’i k’eri
Westward mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at
Akom piye p’i k’eri
Southward mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at
Than piye p’in k’eri
Eastward mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at
Opa makori p’in k’eri
Universe-sky mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at
Nan soge nuge p’in k’eri
Earth-sitting-below mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at
P’in pinu oving sokhuwa pa’are k’u’u iwe
Mountain middle you-them fogs first lay there-at
Iwe ha ndi re Ok’e owinge piye
There-at that is why San Juan town towards
Oving tha mu khe ma iwe
You-them at dawn ready bring there-at
Umbi tsigu wänu kwa to kwa p’o wogi
Your lightning thunder rain together
Khi ye nava k’u p’in nge heri
Transform farms lying-in-middle and
Ovi thamu khe kâng ndiwe
You dawn ready have come there-at
He ndi ri ako na k’o igi heri
That is why plain where-it is lying and
Ha ndi ri ako p’in wo’o pa k’wone
That is why plains-mountains revived lie
Ha ndi ri ho’o umbi t’a p’o kwin
That is why now your drying lakes
Un k’wo ni nge ho’o
Your where they are lying now
Oving wo’a pa k’wo ne iwe
You-them revived lie there-at
Tsing we nu hä pang ri mbo’e
Tame animals one-and-all children
T’ä t’o wa ’e gin sigi muni
All little people to be loved by the gods
We nge naimbi kwiyo
Till where our Great Mother’s
Ndi hâ sa k’a ’a po wa in ge heri
Her breath-sound reaches even-till there
Yuta, Savi, Wa savi, Kai wa,
Utes, Apaches, Navajo, Kiowa
Komantsi, Tsaiyena iwe ri mbo’o
Comanche, Cheyenne there-at all
K’wä k’u towa ndi mu in iwe ri mbo’o
Mexican people they are the ones there-at all
Americano t’owa ndi mu’in
American people they are the ones
We nge naimbe kwi yo’un
Till there our Great Mother’s
Ndi hâ sa k’a’a powa mge heri
Her breath-sound reaches even-till there
Ho’o ri sigi mu ni ndi seka ni
Now they loved by the gods, they by each other
Ina hai ndi ri ngi piva
So that is why we expect
Ngi hu nä säta t’o wa k’eri
We will eat here we-mortals-on-earth
Nyä ra’i pá yo, nyä ra’i i phoye khu tha
Good summer good harvest night-day
Ha’a ming pho ye tha-khu nding k’u we
The-same-kind harvest day-night, may they place.
* * * * *
The Tewa villages are all divided into two groups of clans, one commonly known as the Summer People and the other as the Winter People. The Race Dance seems to be a special magical effort to relieve the Sun in its travels, especially while the Sun seems tired at the solstices. Some idea of the astronomical significance appears in the words. The Great-Star of the Dark Night Man appears to be Jupiter.
Summer People's Song
Than sendo i thamu khe winu Yophe k’ewe
Sun Old Man he at dawn ready must stand Cactus Stalk Ridge on.
P’o sendo wa’a i thamu khe winu Yophe k’ewe
Moon Old Man also he at dawn ready must stand, Cactus Stalk Ridge on
Mba i thamu khe winu iwe ra han O’ke owinge
And he at dawn ready must stand thence going San Juan toward
I thamu khe ho’o tse hwä kwa wi p’o.
He at dawn ready now Eagle Tail Rain Standing Road.
Winter People’s Song
Towa’e tsä’i’i seng K’u seng p’i neri
Little People White Men Stone-Man-Mountain from
Mbi thamu khe winu O’ke owinge piye
You two at dawn ready must stand San Juan town towards
Kwa wi p’o ge O’ke owinge piye
Rain Standing Road at San Juan town towards
Agoyo nu khu seng i thamu khe winu
Great-Star-Dark-Night Man at dawn ready must stand
O’ke owinge piye.
San Juan town towards.
* * * * * 
Avanyu or P’o anyu is pictured as a horned serpent often with clouds attached to his body and a tongue of barbed lightning. He is a dreaded god of storms, sometimes glimpsed in dark swirling clouds. Once this water monster threatened to flood the world but he was turned from this evil intention by twin war gods, called Towa’e or Little People, who slew him with their arrows and left his body lying as the rocky barriers of Nambe falls. The diminished flood still pours out of his great mouth and offerings are made to appease him if the stream rises suddenly. In another conception he resides in sacred lakes and moves in storm clouds. Almost certainly the various plumed and horned serpents of the Southwest are a far-off echo of the feathered serpent of the Mayas and Mexicans.
As a rule the name Avanyu is anathema. This short religious song in which he is appealed to comes from the Than kwa share, or Sun-Rain Dance, of Nambe held just before the sun reaches his northern Sun House at the summer solstice. At San Juan foot races are held in connection with the same event.
Avanyu Sendo
Storm Serpent Old Man
Ho’o kä’ä
Now come hither
Mbe nä we ivi yare nde’e
For here we are dancing
Umbi kwâ wogi
Your rain-with
Näwe u powa
Here you arrive!
* * * * *
This piece is entitled Ko’on pinan kha’a ndi a iri—Buffalo Magic Song, Making Come. It is an example of the coercive use of song. The first place name Ko’on tsi pogi is a name for part of the Great Plains, Phi yo pi wi i is a pass near the head of the Pecos River and Yo pha k’ewe is an old town belonging to Tesuque.

Kaya ’a wimba’a Ko’on tsi pogi
Far over yonder Buffalo-Ice-Water-at
Nä piye ho’o ye mä ä imbi ’e wogi
Hither now they-them bringing their children together
A ’nyugi ho’o vi ä â tuye
Quickly now they-with-them walk quickly
Heri ho’o ndi powa Phiyo pin wi’i.
And now they arrive Red Bird Gap
Ko’on sendo, Ko’on kwiyo
Buffalo Old Man, Buffalo Old Woman
A’n yuge ho’o vi kä’ä ve umbi’e wogi
Quickly now ye-with-them come your children together
Nä piye Yo’pha k’ewe owingi umbi ’e wogi
Hither Cactus-row-ridge town-at your children together
Ndin k’on wowatsi wogi
    They-to-us bring life together
Nä we ho’o in powa Te tsuge owinge.
    Here-at now they arrive Tesuque town-at.