Bears, Bobcats and Rabbits
with Judy Trejo
Tuhva Tzi Buina (Pinenut Blessing Song)
Circle Dance Songs
Arlie Neskahi :
Whether you have four legs or two, you have a place in the circle of creation. One of our favorite two-leggeds – the late Judy Trejo – introduces us to a few relatives, including singing bears, giggling jackrabbits and laughing bobcats.
One of my favorite bear stories involves a Shoshone hunter. He went hunting one time. And he heard this kind of a clacking sound and some singing. So he crawled on his tummy and looked down into this little valley. And the bears were standing upright.
Bear Dance Song
From Feb. 2002 WISDOM Recording
They were dancing. They had their hands on each other’s shoulders. And they were swaying back and forth and going forwards and backwards. And he observed them for a long time and listened to their songs.
He went back to his village. He said. “This is what I saw. The bears, they sing and they dance, just like us human beings do. What do ya’ think of that?”
They all talked it over. They said, “Those must be our relatives. If they sing and dance the way we do, they are relatives of ours. So therefore, we should never kill them and we should never eat them.” and because of that story that has been passed along for many generations, Shoshones won’t eat bear. Neither will a lot of Paiutes.
I like bear’s role in some of the legends. There is a legend about the origin of cyclones.
And my elders used to say, “sim-me-aut-nos” (once, long ago) “ne-me-awk-wan-nos” (when we were all the same… our country, being in the northwest was plagued with cyclones, which were referred to as evil winds. Animals would get blown away. They’d have to walk all the way back home. Their food supplies would get blown away. Their shelters would get blown away. And they were really getting tired of this. So they had a meeting one day, a huge meeting. Everybody was there, except for the coyote.
And the woman that presided over this meeting was grandmother owl. She was the head honcho. She directed the meeting.
They said, “What shall we do about these evil winds? We all don’t like ’em.”
So our aunt, the bear, she gets up and she says, “let me! I’m big. I’m strong. I’m ferocious. I’ve got courage. Let me chase them away.”
Grandmother owl says, “no, my aunt. I don’t think you’re the right person to do this.” says, “you’re much too big and clumsy. You’d chase them for a little ways and then you’ll get tired.”
Upon hearing this, the jackrabbit and the bobcat were laughing. They were rolling on the ground in these fits of giggles. And they said, “see, bear? No matter how tough and big you think you are, you can’t help us this time. Ha-ha-ha!”
Bear had her feelings hurt.
Her sister-in-law, the deer, she steps forth. She said, “let me do this. I’m very swift on my feet. I can chase these evil winds-far far, away so they’ll never come back.”
Grandmother owl thought about this. She said, “I’m sorry, my sister-in-law. You’re the wrong person for this.” says, “you’re much too gentle of heart. You would chase them for a while. And you would feel sorry for them. And you’d let them all go.”
Bobcat and jackrabbit thought this was funny still. They’re still rolling around on the ground, laughing.
Then bobcat, he had a serious moment. He said, “Let me! Let me! I’m young, and I’m smart. I can get rid of these evil winds!”
Grandmother owl looks at him and says, “No, you are much too foolish. You can not help us.”
And the rabbit really went into a fit of giggles. So bobcat kinda’ had his feelings hurt.
“You’re too silly,” the rabbit told him. “Look at you! You’re too silly to help us!”
Porcupine steps forth and says, “I have a good idea. Let’s gather all these evil winds and let’s put it in one big sack.”
But grandmother also says, “now wait a minute. That is a brilliant idea. We will gather all the evil winds and put ’em in one sack. But the one to carry it away is the badger, because the badger has the ability to disappear very quickly in times of danger.”
Badger didn’t want to go. He was sad. He didn’t want to leave his family, but all the animals and all the birds, all living creatures, got together. And gathered up these evil winds and put it in a sack.
On the appointed day, badger was given the bag. He had tears in his eyes.: as he left his family. He didn’t know when he was going to come back. The birds sang him on his way. The flowers danced for him to try to bring a smile to his face. That didn’t work.
He traveled many, many days. And he was traveling one afternoon, coyote pokes his head up and says, “oh, there goes badger. Badger’s got a bag on his back! I wonder if he has something to eat? He has to have something to eat. I am so hungry!”
So he trots down there. “Hi, badger!”
Badger says, “Go away. Leave me alone. I’m doing something very important for our people.”
“Have anything to eat in your bag?”
He said, “no. Go away. I’m busy.”
“Come on badger. You sure you don’t have something to eat?” he said.
“I said, ‘go away.'”
So coyote jumps up on the pack, and he’s riding and he’s reaching down and covering badger’s eyes. I wanna peek in your bag.”
“No! It’s very dangerous. Do not do this!”
“Can’t I have one little peek?” coyote told badger.
Finally the badger got tired of him, and said, “here.” handed him the sack. And he dug a hole and disappeared.
And coyote wound up in a place, part of the country in the united states where they have cyclones now. And it is because of this that we don’t have cyclones in our country.
Keith Secola And Wild Band Of Indians
The late Judy Trejo was a Paiute song-carrier, an educator, and award-winning recording artist. She is deeply missed.