Friday, January 14, 8000

Navajo Ancestors in the Southwest (1000)

The Navajo people (or Diné) of the Southwestern United States are the second largest Native American tribe in North America, with 298,197 people claiming to be full or partial Navajo in the 2000 U.S. census.

The Navajo Nation constitutes an independent governmental body which manages the Navajo Indian reservation in the Four Corners area of the United States. The traditional Navajo language is still largely spoken throughout the region, although most Navajo also speak English fluently as well. The Navajo people call themselves Diné, which is translated "The People" in English.

The Navajo speak dialects of the language family referred to as Athabaskan. In addition to Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and

Arizona, Athabaskan speakers are also found living in Alaska, through west-central Canada and in a few areas on the Pacific coast. Linguistic and cultural similarities indicate the Navajo and other Southern Athabaskan speakers, known today as Apache, were once a single ethnic group that probably came from the Great Slave Lake area having crossed the Bering land bridge thousands of years previously. In present-day Canada, an aboriginal people known as Diné still live in the far north, centered around Great Slave Lake but also with communities in the far north of adjacent provinces. Despite the thousand years that has elapsed, these people reportedly can still understand the language of their long-lost cousins, the Navajo.

Archaeological and historical evidence suggests that the Navajo ancestors (linguistically called Apachean) entered the Southwest after 1000 AD, with substantial population increases occurring in the 13th century, raising sheep in the 1600's.

As with the Southeast Native American experience of the "Trail of Tears," the Navajo had their "Long Walk" (1864) to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, after Kit Carson (1809-1868) burned their homes, before agreeing to reservation life (1868).

Navajo - Ribbon Dance

Ribbon Dance has tense singing, with hand rattle and a ceremonial basket turned upside down, beaten like a log drum. Vocables are indefinite-but-meaningful. The meter alternates between 2's and 3's, and pitch consists of two tritonic collections (A C E and A C Eb) -- or, alternately, one tetratonic (A C Eb E), or one tritonic with unstable 5th degree (Eb orE), depending on the point of view (or hearing).

Part of the Fire Dance held on the last night of the nine-day Mountain Way Ceremony, this cure for sore throats (including those caused by eating bear or porcupine) has been adapted for the public.
Yeibichai Song

Yeibichai Song is part of the Nightway Ceremony, with a complex ABCDD'EFGD'EFB'CB''C structure -- a very large altered ternary (ABA' -- where A = anything above in the ABC group and B = everything else)! Pulsations on individual notes are characteristic.

Circle Dance Song (1957)

[8013 Herman - Alma / 8000 Navajo]