Saturday, October 20, 2007

Songs of the Tewa

The Pueblo Indians of New Mexico can be categorized into three groups based on language: Tiwa, Tewa, and Towa. The Tewa (TAY-wah) speakers live in the pueblos all around Santa Fe: Ohkay Owingeh, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Pojoaque, Nambé, and Tesuque.

Here is a beautiful Tewa song called Song of the Sky Loom. [1] The photographs that accompany this post, and were inspired by the song, were all taken in and around Santa Fe in the last couple of weeks.

Oh our Mother the Earth, oh our Father the Sky,
Your children are we, and with tired backs
We bring you the gifts that you love.
Then weave for us a garment of brightness;
May the warp be the white light of morning,
May the weft be the red light of evening,
May the fringes be the falling rain,
May the border be the standing rainbow.
Thus weave for us a garment of brightness
That we may walk fittingly where birds sing,
That we may walk fittingly where grass is green,
Oh our Mother the Earth, oh our Father the Sky!

The sculpture of the Navajo woman at the top of this post is entitled Raindrops, and was created by Allan Houser (1914-1984), a Chiricahua Apache who spent most of his adult life in Santa Fe. Since rain is often slight and infrequent in this part of the world, it is appropriate to signify "falling rain" with a hopeful look at the sky--or maybe the first realization that rain has started to fall. (Allan Houser will get a full post of his own on this site soon!)

October roses in my yard in the sharp shadows thrown by the "white light of morning".

"The standing rainbow", photographed across the college campus on my way home from work one evening.

"The red light of evening" as taken from the steps of the Box Office, just before a show earlier this month.


[1] Songs of the Tewa was translated by Herbert J. Spinden, and published in 1933 under the auspices of the Exposition of Indian Tribal Arts, Inc. The poem was quoted in Bertha P. Dutton's American Indians of the Southwest (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1983).


frenchvelvet said...

I actually have a recording of that song by the Texas All Region Choir 2004. My friend was in it. I never knew what the song was.

SantaFeKate said...

That's so cool! I had no idea that such a thing existed (at least until I heard from you--now, after a web search, I am enlightened!) Couldn't find a musical version to listen to though. But it's such a beautiful piece--I imagine it could be very powerful set to music.