Program 106: Taheebvu Chadi

Pine Nuts and Pine Nut Songs

Judy Trejo

Judy Trejo

 

with Judy Trejo

Music:
Judy Trejo
Tuhva Tzi Buina (Pinenut Blessing Song)
Circle Dance Songs
Canyon Records

Arlie Neskahi:
Coming up, we’ll hear from turtle island storyteller Jack Dalton with a Yu’pik tale of gathering. Next, the late Judy Trejo tells of the harvest of the pine nut, the staple food of the great basin peoples.

Judy Trejo:
How many people are familiar with the pinion nut, which we refer to as pine nuts? Pine nuts grow in certain parts of nevada. It has a relative called the juniper. Pine nuts are a staple food of the great basin people, and not all great basin people had access to pine nuts or pinion nuts, whichever way you choose to call them. All i know is that they are super delicious and really better than popcorn if you are going to kick back and watch tv. There’s nothing better than a handful of salted pine nuts.

Pine nuts was very valuable as a trade item. I remember my old folks packing their tanned deer hides, brain tanned hides. They packed, ah beaded gloves, moccasins, and indian balsam root which is a very powerful medicine. It’ll cure man or beast.

Music:
Judy Trejo
Tuhva Buindzi (Pinenut Blessing Song)
From Feb. 2002 WISDOM Recording

My people would take their goods and go to Carson City, Nevada on Nevada day. They celebrate Nevada day every year. And they would trade with the Washoe people, because the Washoe tribe had the most pine nuts. They have a lot of land with pine nuts on them.

And I remember the old folks comin’ home with a 100 pound sack of pine nuts, gunny sack full. And they felt very rich because come Christmas time, mom would make little bags, little cloth bags and fill it with pine nuts. And this is what they gave to some families.

People in great basin area, whether they be Paiute, Shoshone, Washoe, took good care of their food items. They always started with prayer and offered a song.

And the pine nut blessings begin in the springtime. The people would go up into the mountains in the springtime long about April or may and the chosen person that they call “puinave” – that was our word for leader or chief. And the puinave was the person that was appointed because of his or her knowledge as to when it was time to bless the pine nuts. What they did was break a branch off of a pine nut tree. And they picked a branch that had a male cone and a female cone and they prayed with it. They prayed for a bountiful harvest come fall.

And after their prayers, they laid this branch at the bottom of this running water and they covered it with a rock. And the first song that they offered was a pine nut blessing song.

They sing about a little pine nut seed, tuhva-buindzi, the little pine nut seed. And it sings about the male cone and the female cone.” They are laying beneath the water together.” And that is the first pine nut blessing song they would sing.

And they would dance while they were up in the mountains. So whenever you hear this song that begins with tuhva-buindzi, they’re singing about the pine nut seed as they lay together beneath the water. And when i was small, or young – about 12 or 13, i always thought that was so-o romantic! Laying together beneath the water even if it was pinecones.

Music:
Judy Trejo
Tuhvanga Bui Wahnay (Pinenut Blessing Song)
From Feb. 2002 WISDOM Recording

When you’re doing a pine nut blessing festival they dance. And two appointed people will walk the inner circle. And as they walk, they will throw pine nuts on the ground and it symbolizes the re seeding for next year’s crop.

And the words of this song are in Paiute and they merely say that somebody is walking and as they go, they are scattering the pine nut seeds.

I learned this song from an old gentleman. He was 93 years old at the time and he’s passed on many years ago. His name was Ed Williams. I learned many songs from this gentleman.

Music:
Judy Trejo
Tuhvan Dau Ya (Pinenut Blessing Song)
From Feb. 2002 WISDOM Recording

And he always said, “if you can take my songs and make them ’em sound good, i’ll be real proud of you.” So whenever i sing these songs, i think about him.

Music:
Judy Trejo
Tuhva Tzi Buina (Pinenut Blessing Song)
From Feb. 2002 WISDOM Recording

So these four pine nut songs are sung in the order in which they should be sung when you have a festival, a pine nut harvest. Good eatin’!

Music:
Keith Secola And Wild Band Of Indians
Ooh Highway
Fingermonkey
Akina Records

Neskahi:
Judy Trejo is an award winning recording artist and her music is available from Canyon Records.