with Judy Trejo
Tuhva Tzi Buina (Pinenut Blessing Song)
Circle Dance Songs
Some might think of the sagebrush as a nuisance, but not the late Paiute storyteller Judy Trejo. Sagebrush is used not only for food and warmth; it can also be used artistically in the creation of beautiful baskets, mats, and clothing.
Hello, this is Taheebvu Judy again. During this segment I would like to talk to you about sagebrush. Since I am from the desert. I’d like to share with you the many uses of the sagebrush.
And once long ago, creator became very disappointed with how the human beings lived. They were fighting and arguing among each other. There was envy. There was jealousy. There began to be hatred. Creator didn’t like that. The human being were wasteful. They caught more fish than they could eat and lots of it went to waste. They killed, began to kill for sport instead of for food and clothing. So the creator sent a lot of water into the great basin and there was a major flood. And a lot of you are familiar with the story of the flood. We have many stories that parallel a lot of the teachings in the scripture, and the flood is one of them. Only they don’t have a sagebrush story in the flood. We do.
There was a group that had survived. And they got together. And the leader, he said “we are alive so we must give thanks.” He said, “let us talk with the creator.” And because he was the leader, he said, “creator, we are alive and we are grateful. It is good to be alive. But we are hungry and we are cold. We need help. Can you help us?”
And the creator said, “as long as you believe in me, I will give you this plant. From this plant, you can boil the leaves and make medicine. You can take the bark and you can weave it into clothing. You can rinse your hair in it so it can shine. Upon the sagebrush, there are these puffy looking berries that you may eat in the springtime. It is shiny. Some are red. Some are pink. Some are green. But don’t forget to remove the bug egg in the very center. Take that out and put it back in the bush and you may eat the rest of it. It will nourish you. You may pile it together, put it on top of each other. And you my use it for shelter when the wind is cold. From the bark, you can soften it and you can make wrappings for your babies. You may also use milkweed pods.” So you can look upon that, the milkweed, the silk from the milkweed pods and the fiber made from sagebrush bark as the first disposable diaper.
But above all, the promise that creator made to the people was “even though this brush is wet, it will always burn for you.” And growing up on the desert, where we had to use a wood burning stove, I have seen the family bring in an armload of wet sage brush that is already cut, drop it into the wood box, and if there is a fire already going, it still burns. That is one thing that I have found, that, it is true, even though it is wet, it burns.
There is a song about sagebrush I would like to sing for you. It is a very very ancient song and it goes like this.
Wisdom Of The Elders
That’s a very very old song about sagebrush. But now only did the sagebrush have uses I just described to you, we used it for shelter, we used it for clothing and we used it to keep warm with. And I love eating the sagebrush gall and always make sure I took the bug out of the center out of it.
Sagebrush is looked upon by a lot of people as a nuisance. Some people are relieved when there is a fire and sagebrush burns. But if you’ve grown up in the desert and you’re accustomed to the smell of it, you actually miss the smell of it. It is aromatic. You can use it for a smudge. And I will end this segment about sagebrush with a song that I learned from a woman by the name of Lena. It is a stick game song and again it is about sagebrush.
Stick Game Song About Sagebrush
Wisdom Of The Elders
Keith Secola And Wild Band Of Indians
Judy Trejo was a Paiute storyteller, an educator, and award-winning recording artist. We are honored to be able to present her work to you. Her songs and stories live on.