Program 108: Taheebvu Chadi

Circle of the Seasons, Cycle of Life

Judy Trejo

Judy Trejo

with Judy Trejo

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


Arlie Neskahi :

Every fall, a few of our elders may leave, but in the spring we meet the newborns who will carry on in their place. This is the circle of life, the pure connection that inspires the Great Basin Circle Dance- as the late Judy Trejo reminds us.

Stella Lake. Great Basin National Park.

Stella Lake. Great Basin National Park. Courtesy of the National Parks Service.

Judy Trejo:
And the pine nut blessings begin in the springtime. People in Great Basin area, whether they be Paiute, Shoshone, Washoe, they always started with prayer and offered a song. The people would go up into the mountains in the springtime long about April or May, somewhere like that. And they went up there prepared to dance.

When I was very small, when people got together and danced, they would dance for as many as four days. And you dance in a circle. You hold hands. You dance shoulder to shoulder, which it’s easier to keep your rhythm. So you didn’t need a drum. You didn’t have a free hand to hold the drum with. You’d hold some sweet young guy’s hand. And they’d begin dancing when the sun went down.

Music:
Judy Trejo
Arizona Song
Circle Dance Songs
Canyon Records

Pinyon Pine. Pinus edulis.

Pinyon Pine. Pinus edulis. Courtesy of the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine. Photo by Ginger Webb.

These were night time songs. And the last song they sang was just before the sun popped up. This is when they stopped dancing. And all it says, “The sun is emerging. The sun is emerging. The word for sun is “dtava”, the word for pine nut is ” dtuva”, so it’s also used in the pine nut festivals. The pine nut blessing songs for when you use the word “dtuva” you are saying “the pine nuts are emerging,” meaning the cones are opening and you’re beginning to see the pine nuts in them. And the custom was even in the early 1900’s, if you were a young man and you danced next to a young woman, and you didn’t release her hand when somebody came to cut in between you, and you danced with this girl for four nights without letting somebody else cut in – after that fourth day, you were considered… MARRIED!

Which is why sometimes we laughingly tell other people, “If it wasn’t for circle dance, lot of you wouldn’t be here!” It began at a circle dance, began at a fall or spring gathering. And our people went about in small, family groups and they all met at appointed place in the springtime. Then they would decide on where to meet in the fall.

Then they separated again for winter. ‘Cause you have to remember, the Great Basin area, only the fittest survived. Conditions were very harsh, but a small group could survive much better than a big tribe. So, it was very exciting to meet in the spring. This is where the announcements were made. They announced which elders passed away, they would be met with mourning, sounds of mourning. But, yet a woman would stand up, “But these are the newborns to take their place.” Which also, the mourning feelings, you know, turned into happiness, and smiles. Because we believe that every time an old one goes home, there’s a new one to take that one’s place. And we still believe that way.

Music:
Judy Trejo
Music:
Judy Trejo
Tuhva Tzi Buina (Pinenut Blessing Song)
Live In Studio

Music:
Keith Secola and Wild Band of Indians
Ooh Highway
Fingermonkey
Akina Records

Paint Brush. Bryce Canyon.

Paint Brush. Bryce Canyon. Photo courtesy of the National Parks Service.

Neskahi:
The late Judy Trejo was a Piaute song-carrier and educator. Her first recording, “Circle Dance Songs of the Paiute and Shoshone,” received the 1997 A.F.I.M. Indie award for “best Native American album.” It is available from Canyon Records.