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Songs of the Tewa, by Herbert Joseph Spinden, [1933], at

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Abbreviations used in referring to articles:

A.A. American Anthropologist. References to volume number, old series (O.S.) and new series (N.S.).

A.M.N.H. American Museum of Natural History—Memoirs (Mem.) and Anthropological Papers (Anth. Pap.) referred to by number.

B.A.E. Bureau of American Ethnology, Annual Reports (Ann. Rep.) and Bulletins (Bull.) referred to by number.

J.A.F. Journal of American Folk-Lore.

L.A.A.L. Library of American Aboriginal Literature, edited by D. G. Brinton, referred to by author and separate title.

M.A.F.S. Memoirs of the American Folk-Lore Society.

P.A.E.S. Publications of the American Ethnological Society.

U.C.P. University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology.


1 Kroeber, A. L. Handbook of the Indians of California, B.A.E., Bull. 78, p. 511.

2 La Flesche, F. The Osage Tribe, Published in four parts: I, B.A.E., 36th Ann. Rep. II, B.A.E., 39th Ann. Rep. III, B.A.E., 43rd Ann. Rep. IV., B.A.E., 45th Ann. Rep. Reference in I, pp. 85–86.

3 Idem, III, p. 530.

4 Brinton, D.G. Ancient Nahuatl Poetry, L.A.A.L., vol. VII, p. 41.

5 Idem, pp. 45–47.

6 Rendered from the Spanish of Lafone Quevado, S. A., El Culto de Tonapa, Revista Museo de la Plata, III, pp. 323–379, with reference to the translations of Markham, Sir C. R., The Incas of Peru, London, 1910, pp. 100–101 and Means, P. A., Ancient Civilizations of the Andes, New York, 1931, pp. 437–438. Other Peruvian poems are admirably discussed in the last mentioned work, and their sources given.

7 Wissler, C., The American Indian, New York, 1917, pp. 143–144.

8 Grosse, E. The Beginnings of Art, New York, 1897, pp. 224.

9 A study of the musical tones of two-lipped drums has recently been published by the National Museum of Mexico: Castaneda, D. and Mendoza, V. T. Los Teponaztles en las civilizations precortesianas, Anales del Museo Nacional de Archeologia, Historia y Ethnografia, Vol. VIII, No. 1, pp. 1–80. John E. Cornyn insists that the Aztecs employed the trochaic meter; in his Song of Quetzalcoatl he uses Hiawatha-like versification.

10 Brinton, D. G. Op. cit., pp. 106, 121, 125.

11 Densmore, R. Chippewa Music; Published in two parts: I, B.A.E., Bull. 45, II, B.A.E., Bull. 53. This reference in I, p. 41.

12 Whiffen, T. The Northwest Amazons, p. 190.

13 Thalbitzer, W. The Ammassalik Eskimo, Part II, No. 3, Language and Folklore, Copenhagen, 1923, p. 206.

This report is published in a Danish serial devoted to the scientific description of Greenland, some articles being in Danish and some in English.

14 Swanton, J. R. Haida Songs, P. A. E. S., III, pp. 5 and 22.

15 Thalbitzer, W. Op. cit., pp. 211–212.

p. 110

16 B.A.E., 43rd Ann. Rep., pp. 341–343.

17 Densmore, F. Teton Sioux Music; B.A.E., Bull. 61, pp. 165–166.

18 Densmore, F. Chippewa Music, I, p. 127.

19 Mooney, T. The Ghost Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890, B.A.E., 15th Ann. Rep., p. 976.

20 Thalbitzer, Op. cit., pp. 260–261.

21 Russell, F. The Pima Indians, B.A.E., 26th Ann. Rep., p. 290.

22 Dorsey, G. A. The Pawnee-Mythology, Pub. 59 Carnegie Inst. of Washington, pp. 222–225.

23 Densmore, F. Papago Music, B.A.E., Bull. 90, p. 173.

24 Densmore, F. Chippewa Music, II, pp. 253–254.

25 La Flesche, F. The Osage Tribe, IV, pp. 544–547.

26 Idem, I, p. 211.

27 Thalbitzer, W. Op. cit., p. 241.

28 Rink, H. J. Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo, London, 1875, pp. 67–68. The poem is recast in the form printed above in Brinton, D. G. American Aboriginal Poetry, Proc. Numismatic and Antiquarian Soc. of Philadelphia, pp. 21–22. For comparison I give Rink's translation which has a prose form but with dots to indicate the omission of the meaningless refrain. With the help of these dots the verses can be reconstructed as follows:


The south, the south, oh the south yonder.
When settling on the midland coast I met Pulangitsissok
Who had grown stout and fat from eating halibut.
Those people from the midland coast they don't know speaking,
Because they are ashamed of their speech.
Stupid they are besides.
Their speech is not alike,
Some speak like the northern, some like the southern;
Therefore we can't make out their talk.


There was a time when Savdlat wished that I should be a good kayaker,
That I could take a good load on my kayak,
Many years ago some day he wanted me to put a heavy load on my kayak
(This happened at the time) when Savdlat had his kayak tied to mine (for fear of being capsized)
Then he could carry plenty upon his kayak.
When I had to tow thee, and thou didst cry most pitiful,
And thou didst grow afeared,
And wast nearly upset,
And hadst to keep thy hold by help of my kayak strings.

29 Thalbitzer, W. Op. cit., p. 329.

30 Idem, pp. 246–247.

31 Rink, H. J. Op. cit., p. 68. Also recast by Brinton in the article referred to in note 28.

32 Boas, F. Ethnology of the Kwakiutl, B.A.E., 35th Ann. Rep., pp. 12981299.

33 Idem, pp. 1304–1306.

p. 111

34 Densmore, F. Chippewa Music, I, pp. 88–90.

35 Densmore, F. Chippewa Music, I, p. 154.

36 Brinton, D. G. Aboriginal American Authors, Philadelphia, 1883, p. 48.

37 P. 89.

38 Couto de Magalães—O Selvagem, Rio Janeiro, 1876, pp. 140–142.

39 Swanton, J. R. Tlingit Myths and Texts, B.A.E., Bull. 39, pp. 409–410.

40 Idem, p. 410.

41 Idem, p. 411.

42 Boas, F. Op. cit., p. 1292.

43 Thalbitzer, W. Op. cit., p. 407.

44 Densmore, F. Papago Music, pp. 126, 129, 130.

45 Matthews, W. Navaho Gambling Songs, A.A., Vol. 2, O.S., p. 15.

46 Idem, p. 9.

47 Matthews, W. Songs of Sequence of the Navajos. J.A.F. Vol. VII. p. 186.

48 Matthews, W. The Mountain Chant, B.A.E., 5th Ann. Rep. p. 393.

49 Idem, p. 459.

50 Matthews, The Night Chant, A.M.N.H., Mem., Vol. 6, pp. 78–79.

51 Idem, pp. 279–282.

52 Idem, p. 294. Sialia, I may say, is the scientific name for the genus and therefore a latin word. Matthews puts it in italics.

53 Penard, A. P. and T. E. Popular Notions Pertaining to Primitive Stone Artifacts in Surinam, Jour. Am. Folk Lore, Vol. 30 (1917), pp. 251261. I make two slight changes in the texts, using "lightning eel" instead of the native term Pulake and "clear the way" for "move out of the way."

54 Mooney, T. Op. cit., p. 711.

55 Idem, p. 721.

56 Kroeber, A. L. Op. cit., p. 515.

57 Mooney, T. Op. cit., p. 1052, Song No. 1. The other Paiute songs given below are Nos. 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 on pages 1054–1055.

58 Idem, p. 961 et seq. Arapaho songs Nos. 3, 8, 28, and 72 on pages 958–1011.

59 Hale, H. The Iroquois Book of Rites, L.A.A.L., Vol. II, p. 153. Other examples of Iroquois religious chants are found in the writings of Arthur C. Parker, etc.

60 Lehmann, W. Eine Tolteken-Klangesang, Festschrift Eduard Seler, Stuttgart, 1892, pp. 281–319, reviews the texts of these ancient pieces.

In the Popul Vuh of the Quiché a Toltec lament is given in part, for we read: And here they started their hymn called "We See the Dawn." They sang the dirge and their hearts, their vitals, mourned its burden.

"Alas! we have lost each other in Tollan!
 We are dispersed and our younger brothers,
 Our elder brothers, are left behind!
 Indeed we have seen the sun-
 Where are the others now that light has come."

61 For the chronological significance of these prophesies see my Maya Dates and What they Reveal, Brooklyn Museum, Science Bulletin, Vol. IV., No. 1, pp. 18–21.

62 Brinton, D. G. The Annals of the Cakchiquels, L.A.A.L., Vol. VI, p. 77.

63 Brasseur de Bourbourg, Popul Vuh, Paris, i861, pp. 31–33. There is a recent Guatamalan edition by Villacorta and Rodas entitled p. 112 Popul Buj. Also discussed in Alexander's volume on Latin America in The Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1922. Vol. XI, pp. 159 et seq.

p. 112

64 Hills, E. C. The Quechua Drama Ollanta. The Romanic Review V, pp. 127–176 covers the subject of the date of this work very fully.

65 Kroeber, A. L. Op. cit., p. 757.

66 Idem, p. 96, but also see his critical notes on pp. 659–660 in the same volume.

67 La Flesche, F. The Osage Tribe, I, p. 288. In the four great sections of La Flesche's work the idea of the proper choice to be made in a field of material advantage finds expression over and over again. For a somewhat fuller version see II, pp. 258–259.

68 Boas F. Stylistic Aspects of Primitive Literature. J.A.F., Vol. 38, p. 330.

69 Seler, E. Die Religiosen Gesange der alten Mexicaner, Gesammelte Abhandlungen, Vol. II. The Song to Xipe Totec, p. 1071–1078, the Song of Xochipilli in my wife's recent study of The Place of Tajin in Totonac Archaeology in A.A., vol. XXXV, N.S., pp. 255–256.

70 There are two slightly different renderings by D. G. Brinton, the first in his Maya Chronicles, pp. 126–127 and the second, which is used here in his Essays of an Americanist, Philadelphia, 1890, p. 303.

71 Fletcher, A. C. The Hako: A Pawnee Ceremony, B.A.E., 22nd Ann. Rep. Pt. II, pp. 42–48 and 290–291.

72 Russell, F. Op. cit., p. 324.

73 Spinden, H. J. Home Songs of the Tewa Indians, The American Museum Journal, Vol. XV, pp. 73–78, contains Songs II to X, as well as XVII, XXI and XXII. In Indian Dances of the Southwest in the same volume, pp. 103–115 I give the first stanza from the Turtle Dance at Nambe (No. XX): In The Forum of September, 1925 the Song of the Sky Loom, No. XXIX in the present collection. The remaining poems have never before been put to print.

74 Stephenson, M. C., The Zuñi Indians, B.A.E. 23rd. Ann. Rep. p. 176.


In translating the Tewa language I have made use of the ordinary conventions of phonetic writing, putting down the sounds as my ear caught them It is to be expected that inconsistencies should occur owing first to the varying enunciation of different informants from the same village an secondly to the dialectic variation among the five villages of Tesuque, Nambe, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara and San Juan. The dialectic differences are partly seen in the musical pitch or accent which I have made no effort to record. Tewa has many one syllable words and these are distinguished from each other by subtle modulations of the voice: but as a rule the context shows which one of several homonyms is meant.

The Tewa language is richly vocalized, although the vowels often have nasal qualities. The nasalization when present may be soft, or it may be harsher and more ringing. These differences can be written by a small n or ng above the affected vowel. It happens that both the musical pitch and the qualities of nasalization vary somewhat among the villages of the Tewa group and the present writer makes no claim for using all the marks of a perfect record.

In general the vowels have Continental rather than English values, to wit: a as in ah, e as in eight, i as in machine, o as in rose, and u as the final sound in who. Also there is a common a umlaut (ä), as in man, and another

p. 113

[paragraph continues] (â) with a very broad sound, the a in all. Also it will be noted by those who examine the original texts that vowels are frequently doubled in Tewa with an apostrophe written between. This apostrophe indicates a closing of the glottis and the second vowel is generally much shorter than the first, like a kind of echo. Some of the consonants are found in three forms, normal, aspirated and glottally affected. For instance we find k, kh, and k’, the first like the English consonant, the second a k stop followed by a breathing and the third having a somewhat explosive sound to the common ear. Pretty clear stress accents are used in the longer Tewa words.

Now follows a brief comment on each Tewa poem under the Roman numerals which designate them. Space does not permit a full record of the native texts but typical ones are given.


This ki kha’a or shouting song is sung by men at work in the fields or coming home from the hunt. It refers to the annual rabbit drive and the places mentioned are favorite hunting places of the San Juan Indians corresponding to the four directions. The Road of Magic is the Road of Life. But also it runs before the cradle and beyond the grave and is travelled by the souls of the unborn and the ghosts of the dead. Along this Magic Road come the Rain Gods, passing through lakes that are gateways of the underworld.


Owe P’in tsä âkonu
Yonder-at Mountain-white Plain
He häyago he mbo’o
Long-ago-very it was good.
O’ke ’anyu O’ke ’enu nda
San Juan girls San Juan boys and
Ndi arang yi nde’e
They used to walk together.
Haran Tsi p’o na k’o inge
Where Magic-road its-lying-at.


Owe Yo phe âkonu . . . . .
Yonder-at Cactus-stalk Plain


Owe Thun’un p’i âkonu . . . . .
Yonder-at Painted-mountain Plain.


Näwe Wombi ri âkonu
Here-at Medicine-hill Plain
Ho’o ngi arang yi’i
Now we walk together
O’ke ’anyu O’ke ’enu nda
San Juan girls San Juan boys and
Ho’o ngi arang yi’i
Now we walk-together
Haran Tsi p’o na k’o inge
Where Magic-road its-lying at.

p. 114


The Tewa Indian easily becomes homesick even when distant a few miles from his native village. This little song, which brought tears to the eyes of one of my Tewa friends when I repeated it to him on his own hearthstone, might be called Home Sweet Home. The text given below was secured at Nambe, but I have heard a close variant at San Ildefonso. It has a perfect poetic structure with what almost amounts to rhyme although this is perhaps accidental. The Tewa singer depends upon repeated phrases for the essential pattern of his verses.

Navi owin näwä owin näwä
Navi owin näwä ndi on sha
O’in p’in ndo mu’ire ka nyi nanandi
Nâ re sitä: âhiyohe’e ewä,
Ahiyohe’ ewä, ahiyohe’ ewä,
Navi owin näwä ndi on sha.

I may say that the reduction of songs to a written text is not always easy, nor can accuracy be guaranteed. Distortions of the words are often caused by the musical measures which may be rationalized by different informants in somewhat different fashion.


This second song of homesickness, coming from San Juan, is the complete expression of a mood. It seems that memory is kindled, bursts into flame and burns down to gray ashes in the short space of six lines.


The use of affectionate diminutives such as hâ e, breath-little, and pi’e, heart-little, is characteristic of Tewa love songs. There is emotional purity without a touch of physical passion. The text, which is followed closely in the translation, makes use of a sort of color symbolism to vary the repeated phrases. The Tewa name for a love song is se kane kha'a, and this very beautiful one comes from the village of Santa Clara.


The note of banter in this little love song gives a picture of rustic happiness to which no amount of fine phrases could add. The Tewa men in their cornfields sing "shouting songs," such as this, which are sometimes faintly audible to the women in the village.


The comparison of a maiden and a flower is perhaps as old as any form of poetic speech. Yet one may wonder whether the excessive use of "flowery speech" by the Aztecs may not have set a fashion which spread to the north.

I give the Tewa words with the stress accents:

Sú K’wa K’e wé na póvi tshá nde
In póvi, in póvi, ndo mú iri
Kányi na nándi na ré si tä!
In póvi, in póvi, ndo mú iri
Ts’e, okí, t’agi, na póvi tshá.

p. 115


Thamu or Dawn was an old man of Santa Clara who died when my informant was a child. He would sing this derisive song to the girls as they ground corn and retreat when they pelted him.

U a wä nä i sen
Alas! this man
Mbi hi’i t’u
His words voice
Nda tage wage
And truth-like
Ndi hi’i an
When he talked to me.
He mbo wese
But right away
Wi hoyo sha,
You liar found
Wi hoyo sha!
You liar found!


When the wrong man comes forward and the right one hangs back, comparisons are in order. This is a relatively modern song from Nambe and lacks the essential brevity—and clarity—of the accepted classics.


The device of the colloquy is fairly common in Tewa poetry as it is in that of ancient Mexico, without, of course, any interpolation of the speaker's name. The girl in this case was nicknamed Little Blue because the door frame of her house was painted that color. Her dismissal of the errant but repentant swain ends with the phrase ''it was under guns that you dared to pay", which means something done at a foolish risk.


Perhaps the lady doth protest too much—but at least she achieves a precise expression of bitterness.


The story behind this colloquy is that of an Indian youth of San Juan who married a "Mexican" woman and went to live in Truchas. Again the flower motive is used and by comparing this piece with VI and IX it is at once apparent that here is a definite literary tradition.


Two girls express their opinion of a third more fortunate one—and it does not matter whether the aspersion was just or not.


Here is a brave pretense on both sides and might be called a teasing song of parting:

T’owepiye poge we nga he’i nä
Ngo we’i nga kh a’a to ni
Ito ki hä nyu mbai ye kin on sha
An ki rang ndi yo’an.

p. 116


This khe mä’i kha’a—ready-to-go song is not particularly war-like but the Tewa seem never to have been a warlike people. The Navaho were, of course, the common scourge of all the sedentary tribes. I secured two variant texts, the shorter one running:

Na’imbi kwiyo’in unda ihä
Nâ’ in se nän wigi hä pi
Wâ save owinge piye i khe mä


This song has been transcribed by Alice Corbin Henderson in her Red Earth. The Tewa text runs about as follows:

Nä t’o me impi yere
Nä so’okuwa ko
Nä so’okuwa ko
Yare Khun tsâ wai’i
Yagi wani na kha tu’un
Ha we rana na’ a se.

For each verse the Corn Maiden of another quarter is named according to the accepted symbolism of colors.


This is a corn grinding song. I think the blue flowers which grow around the sacred lake of Nambe on Lake Peak arc meant. The significant words are:

Povi tsâ wä t’u
Opa keri tu na sa
Tsi ko wa tin ki na sa

Corn grinding songs are of two kinds. The Ta kha’s are sung by the girls themselves keeping time to the strokes of the hand stones. The other kind called Nu to kha’s, night grinding songs, are sung by the men.


Another corn-grinding song.


This was described as War Captain’s Song, this officer having charge of the work outside the town.


The ’e kha’a, meaning child song is, of course, our lullaby. The verses vary only in accordance with the circuit of the four directions. The text for the last verse is:

Tampiye okhuwa povi napovisa
In the east cloud flower the blossom stands
Nda ng’u tsiguweno ko’in mu we’a
And then the lightning begins to flash
Nda ng’u kwan ta’a ita’a
And then the thunder it thunders
Nda ng’u kwa’a pose yemu
And then the fine rain falls
A’ a’ a ha.

p. 117


No comment is called for.


Here the little boy born in the spring, as we may know from his springtime name Primrose, is old enough to have experienced the discipline of the Cannibal Giants. These terrifying masked creatures come to the village with whips and children who have been disobedient do not enjoy their performances.


Here the little girl has an autumnal name. The sleepy little birds, which are caught on the mountain and kept as pets, are supposed to have a sympathetic influence on the child.


This song is sung by children at play.

Sagi wo nging povi sa,
Mbe ndu nde’e nging povi sa,
P’o pe’e nging povi sa,
I ’ang ho’ nging povi sa.


The K’osa or Delight Makers belong to three orders, the Kwirana K’osa, the Tewa K’osa and the Tema K’osa. This initiation chant of the Kwirana K’osa expresses the high spiritual purpose of these sacred clowns. It seems that the institution is distributed among all the village Indians of the Southwest. Mrs. Matilda Cox Stephenson gives ceremonial material on the Kwirana organization at Sia and I quote for comparison part of a song secured by her:

White floating clouds, clouds like plains,
Sun, Moon, Puma, Bear, Badger, Wolf
Eagle, Shrew, Elder War Hero, Younger War Hero,
Warrior of the North, Warrior of the West,
Warrior of the South, Warrior of the East,
Warrior of the Above, Warrior of the Below,
Medicine Water Bowl, Cloud Bowl, Ceremonial Water Bowl,
I make a road of meal, the ancient road, the ancient road.

At the Hopi villages the order is called Pai-a kya-muh according to Fewkes (A Journal of American Ethnology II pp. 10–11), a name which seems to have been derived from Than phaiya tchamu of the Tewa text. Of course Hano on the First Mesa is really a Tewa village.

Näwe ho’o we ma’a na imbi sendo’in
Here-at now we bring you Oh our old men
Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa tsâ wä’in
Sun-fire- deity Cloud person blue
Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa tse’nyin
Sun-fire- deity Cloud person yellow.
Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa p’i’in
Sun-fire- deity Cloud person red
Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa tsä’in
Sun- fire- Cloud person white

p. 118

Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa nu khu win
Sun-fire deity Cloud person dark
Than phaiya tshama Okhuwa tsä neg’in
Sun-fire-deity Cloud person all colors
Nä we we ma’a ho’o ovi pi tuwä phe
Here at we bring you now your heart-hunt-stick
O mi gi’in ovi p’o sa k’u wiri
We make it for you tobacco to smoke
O mi gi’in ovi khu khi ko puri
We make it for you cornmeal to eat
Hâ wo’a omi gi’in ovi
Little bit for all we make it for you
Thamu khe nyi ye’gi’in p’in piye p’in k’eri
At dawn ready to walk be northward mountain top
Tso mpi ye hwage yoge p’in k’eri
Westward lakewards great mountain top
O ko mpiye tshu sogi p’in k’eri
Southward where the Shu sit mountain top
Than piye thamu yogi p’in k’eri
Eastward dawn-great mountain top
Opa makori p’in k’eri
Universe-sky mountain top
Nan soge nuge p’in k’eri
Earth-sit-under-at mountain top
Okhuwa povi phi si ni nge p’i
Cloud flowers that are not barren
Oving okhuwa povi pi ye iwe
You-them cloud flowers when you bring there-at
We to p’in piye p’in k’eri
Far off northward mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at
Tsom piye p’i k’eri
Westward mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at
Akom piye p’i k’eri
Southward mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at
Than piye p’in k’eri
Eastward mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at
Opa makori p’in k’eri
Universe-sky mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at
Nan soge nuge p’in k’eri
Earth-sitting-below mountain top
Oving okhuwa povi soge iwe
You-them cloud flowers set there-at

p. 119

P’in pinu oving sokhuwa pa’are k’u’u iwe
Mountain middle you-them fogs first lay there-at
Iwe ha ndi re Ok’e owinge piye
There-at that is why San Juan town towards
Oving tha mu khe ma iwe
You-them at dawn ready bring there-at
Umbi tsigu wänu kwa to kwa p’o wogi
Your lightning thunder rain together
Khi ye nava k’u p’in nge heri
Transform farms lying-in-middle and
Ovi thamu khe kâng ndiwe
You dawn ready have come there-at
He ndi ri ako na k’o igi heri
That is why plain where-it is lying and
Ha ndi ri ako p’in wo’o pa k’wone
That is why plains-mountains revived lie
Ha ndi ri ho’o umbi t’a p’o kwin
That is why now your drying lakes
Un k’wo ni nge ho’o
Your where they are lying now
Oving wo’a pa k’wo ne iwe
You-them revived lie there-at
Tsing we nu hä pang ri mbo’e
Tame animals one-and-all children
T’ä t’o wa ’e gin sigi muni
All little people to be loved by the gods
We nge naimbi kwiyo
Till where our Great Mother’s
Ndi hâ sa k’a ’a po wa in ge heri
Her breath-sound reaches even-till there
Yuta, Savi, Wa savi, Kai wa,
Utes, Apaches, Navajo, Kiowa
Komantsi, Tsaiyena iwe ri mbo’o
Comanche, Cheyenne there-at all
K’wä k’u towa ndi mu in iwe ri mbo’o
Mexican people they are the ones there-at all
Americano t’owa ndi mu’in
American people they are the ones
We nge naimbe kwi yo’un
Till there our Great Mother’s
Ndi hâ sa k’a’a powa mge heri
Her breath-sound reaches even-till there
Ho’o ri sigi mu ni ndi seka ni
Now they loved by the gods, they by each other
Ina hai ndi ri ngi piva
So that is why we expect
Ngi hu nä säta t’o wa k’eri
We will eat here we-mortals-on-earth
Nyä ra’i pá yo, nyä ra’i i phoye khu tha
Good summer good harvest night-day
Ha’a ming pho ye tha-khu nding k’u we
The-same-kind harvest day-night, may they place.

p. 120


In this Initiation Song of the Tewa K’osa the novitiate jests at Kâkanyu Sendo and Uhu Sendo, two of the Cloud People who wear masks with large, ring-shaped eyes. When the K’osa exclaims that the round eyes are being carried off in the water the implication is that the rain gods themselves arc being swept away. When pursued by the seemingly angry gods he makes quick disclaimer. He declares that he meant only the little cakes strung on a string which symbolize these round eyes.

To mba mbuge i’kwâ na
’I hä ha enyu ip’o k’u re
Kâ kanyu sendo tsi ts’e thagi ’o p’o ho
To mba mbuge i’kwâ na
’I hä ha enyu i p’o k’u re
Uhu sendo tsi ts’e thagi ’op’o ho
Yo navi sendo! yo navi sendo!
Ka paweno ndo toma.


This is described as a very sad pi nan kha'a or magic song of the Tewa K’osa which all the Indians know but are afraid to sing. It means the K’osa are going in under a sacred lake to the place where the rains and the lightnings are made, all lakes being regarded as entrances to the underworld. This song is sung on the shore of a certain lake in the Santa Fé mountains especially sacred to Nambe.


This passage is taken from a long myth of Nambe. It illustrated several ceremonial usages of the K’osa: one is that they sometimes say the opposite of what they mean such as designating one direction and performing in another. The "lakes" where the gods dwell may be only green spots. But the path of the rainbow upon which they travel is thrown from one such station to the next.


This song is from the Flood Myth and is sung by Urn-tu-sendo, Walking Stick Old man, who may be described as the Tewa Adam. When the flood comes his daughters, the Blue Corn Girls are floated upward to the sky in a basket and after adventures in the Sky World are lowered again to earth by the Spider Woman.


The sky loom I have already explained in the general introductory essay as referring to the small desert rains which resemble a loom hung from the sky. There are indications that this idea was applied elsewhere in the Southwest and of course the symbolical decoration on the white cotton mantle, once the regular dress but now put to ceremonial uses, is in accordance with this chant or prayer for well-being.


The Sang khiu kwiyo or Corn Silk Women of San Juan are probably more or less the same as the Pun kha kwiyo of Nambe and the Nan hwa kwiyo Tesuque. They are a society who play a special role in certain very sacred dances connected with fertility. They appear in the Kwiyo or Woman's Dance. In this chant there are several examples of what my informants call "high words" such as wowa tsi, literally "life eye" but really "hale old age," ’e t’owa sowe, literally "children people grow up" but with the

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normal meaning of "rear many children". Si ge muni means "under the loving protection of the gods".

P’in piye P’o kwinge’in
Northward Lake ones
Säng khiung kwiyo i mu ’in
Corn-silk Old Women ye are the ones
Nä we ho ipowa
Here-at now ye have come
Wowatsi ho’e k’un ku’u
Long-life at once trade-lay
’E gin sigi muni
Children they to be loved of the gods
Ma’imbe’e ndivi’e t’owa sowe
Our children their children people grow up
O’ke ’anyu nda wowa tsi
San Juan girls they long-life.
Ho’e nu wä nä we ho
At once we seek here-at now
Sang khiung kwiyo nda
Corn silk Old women say
Tung wage ho ivi an
Words like now we did
Wowatsi ho ngin ka’a po
Life-long now we ask
Ho ngin sigi muni
Now we to be loved
I vi ’e t’owa sowe
We children people grow up
Nyä ra’ing hä ndi mä ni
Good fate to us give.


This is a kwa pinan kha'a or Rain-Magic song, from the Than khohe share or Sun-Hummingbird Dance of San Juan. The humming bird is a symbol of the flowering season and this magic song is accompanied by the sprinkling of water with feather aspergils. Here the action of the ceremony is designed to suggest similar action by the gods.

O’ke owinge nä we ho ngi win
Na’imbi Khun ’anyu, Khun ’enu,
Khun yiya’in, Khun ta’in
Nä ho ngi ekang kwa p’o se
Tchänu nde täme piye
P’in piye, Tsân piye, Akon piye, Than piye,
Opa makori, Nan suge u’unge,
Ha ndiri näwe ring kwa p’o se yemu ire
O’ke owinge maimbe Khun ’anyu.
Ndi oye phoge p’o kwire
Tata ’anyu nding p’ose tchänu
Iwe ire häwi tä ki näri
Nan otchu kwi mbi tu’ k’igi na sa’in
Naimbe tu hân na mui we ho nâ pa’in
Na’in wi kho khun ami rin ho na in eko’in

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The words for the six directions are interestingly different. Below is Nan suge u'unge, earth drinking below. The Underworld is personified as male, as is the Sky, while the Earth itself is female. Here the earth is Nan otchu kwiyo, Earth-fresh-green-woman.


The Oku share or Turtle Dance is a winter ceremony having to do with fertility, the Ok huwa or Cloud People who come to this ceremony bring with them the seeds of various plants and they are also asked to ensure that children will be plentiful: the dance is there also called ’E pinan share. Children's Magic Dance. I give four songs from the sets used at Nambe which refer to the revival of the vernal season and the rains which will bring the harvest to maturity.


Two songs from the Turtle Dance at Santa Clara give further indication of the nature of the magical prayers, made in the form of songs, to perfect the lot of human beings. The second song, omitting meaningless refrains, has the following words:

So’okuwa okhuwa povi
Fog clouds, cloud flowers
Tä mä p’in nä
Various mountains on Okhuwa
povi sa ho’o
Cloud flowers put forth now
P’in phâ geri tsigu wänu
From the north lightning
Ho’o re mu wa’a
Now it flashes
Kwâ t’an ho’o re ta’a
Thunder now rumbles
Kwâ p’o ho’o re yemu.
Rain water now is falling.


The Tewa villages are all divided into two groups of clans, one commonly known as the Summer People and the other as the Winter People. The Race Dance seems to be a special magical effort to relieve the Sun in its travels, especially while the Sun seems tired at the solstices. Some idea of the astronomical significance appears in the words. The Great-Star of the Dark Night Man appears to be Jupiter.

Summer People's Song

Than sendo i thamu khe winu Yophe k’ewe
Sun Old Man he at dawn ready must stand Cactus Stalk Ridge on.
P’o sendo wa’a i thamu khe winu Yophe k’ewe
Moon Old Man also he at dawn ready must stand, Cactus Stalk Ridge on
Mba i thamu khe winu iwe ra han O’ke owinge
And he at dawn ready must stand thence going San Juan toward
I thamu khe ho’o tse hwä kwa wi p’o.
He at dawn ready now Eagle Tail Rain Standing Road.

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Winter People’s Song

Towa’e tsä’i’i seng K’u seng p’i neri
Little People White Men Stone-Man-Mountain from
Mbi thamu khe winu O’ke owinge piye
You two at dawn ready must stand San Juan town towards
Kwa wi p’o ge O’ke owinge piye
Rain Standing Road at San Juan town towards
Agoyo nu khu seng i thamu khe winu
Great-Star-Dark-Night Man at dawn ready must stand
O’ke owinge piye.
San Juan town towards.


Avanyu or P’o anyu is pictured as a horned serpent often with clouds attached to his body and a tongue of barbed lightning. He is a dreaded god of storms, sometimes glimpsed in dark swirling clouds. Once this water monster threatened to flood the world but he was turned from this evil intention by twin war gods, called Towa’e or Little People, who slew him with their arrows and left his body lying as the rocky barriers of Nambe falls. The diminished flood still pours out of his great mouth and offerings are made to appease him if the stream rises suddenly. In another conception he resides in sacred lakes and moves in storm clouds. Almost certainly the various plumed and horned serpents of the Southwest are a far-off echo of the feathered serpent of the Mayas and Mexicans.

As a rule the name Avanyu is anathema. This short religious song in which he is appealed to comes from the Than kwa share, or Sun-Rain Dance, of Nambe held just before the sun reaches his northern Sun House at the summer solstice. At San Juan foot races are held in connection with the same event.

Avanyu Sendo
Storm Serpent Old Man
Ho’o kä’ä
Now come hither
Mbe nä we ivi yare nde’e
For here we are dancing
Umbi kwâ wogi
Your rain-with
Näwe u powa
Here you arrive!


The Scalp Dance was especially developed at Santa Clara or perhaps a memory of the ceremony has survived there in more perfect state than elsewhere. It seems that Coyote gets his ceremonial name Stretched-Out in-Dew as a devourer of slain warriors. The text of the second part of this song is as follows:

Wasävi ’e nu wi mbo’o
Navajo youths but yourselves
Hä nyi ipi nda’a ri
That way you have to blame
Umbi te’e hwa wige’e
Your house along the end of

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Itshu hwa k’o ho’o
You die stretched-out lying now
Wembo’o ipi na’a ri
But yourselves you have to blame
Pu nan kang ngi wagi
Thighs earth-covered-and-streaked
Itshu hwa k’o ho’o
You die stretched-out lying now
Umbi te’e hwa wige’e
Your house along the end of
So nan kang ngi wagi.
Mouth earth-covered and streaked!


This piece is entitled Ko’on pinan kha’a ndi a iri—Buffalo Magic Song, Making Come. It is an example of the coercive use of song. The first place name Ko’on tsi pogi is a name for part of the Great Plains, Phi yo pi wi i is a pass near the head of the Pecos River and Yo pha k’ewe is an old town belonging to Tesuque.

Kaya ’a wimba’a Ko’on tsi pogi
Far over yonder Buffalo-Ice-Water-at
Nä piye ho’o ye mä ä imbi ’e wogi
Hither now they-them bringing their children together
A ’nyugi ho’o vi ä â tuye
Quickly now they-with-them walk quickly
Heri ho’o ndi powa Phiyo pin wi’i.
And now they arrive Red Bird Gap
Ko’on sendo, Ko’on kwiyo
Buffalo Old Man, Buffalo Old Woman
A’n yuge ho’o vi kä’ä ve umbi’e wogi
Quickly now ye-with-them come your children together
Nä piye Yo’pha k’ewe owingi umbi ’e wogi
Hither Cactus-row-ridge town-at your children together

Ndin k’on wowatsi wogi
    They-to-us bring life together
Nä we ho’o in powa Te tsuge owinge.
    Here-at now they arrive Tesuque town-at.


While her husband is hunting the deer, the woman tries her magic. She lays a cotton thread as a road leading into her house and sits in a corner and sings this magical song.


To come with dangling hands is to come head down over the hunter’s shoulder.


In the Deer Dance at Nambe, as at other pueblos of the Rio Grand, the dancers costumed to represent deer, elk, antelope, mountain sheep and mountain goats, make a dramatic entrance into the dance plaza. This is the song of welcome made by the chorus.

p. 125


This is a Tesuque song used in the Eagle Dance.


When the Tewa made dangerous trips to trade with the nomadic Indians of the plains they were under the charge of their war captain. Each night of the journey one member of the party spoke this speech from a hill top, to bring good luck to the venture.


I have taken some liberties in the arrangement of this prayer and therefore give the original text with interlinear translation. Some of the "high words" have already been discussed.

Näwe ma’a na’imbi sendo
Here-at I bring to you our old man
Payoka umbi kho khun ame
Summer Leaf your arm-leg-aid
Ri na’imbi yu si po
And our tiredness -sweat
Män k’o cri mba yeki mbo’a
You eat! and much being
Ko’gi ndi pä hu wi.
Food to us keep on giving


The Corn Mothers are represented by little idols made from ears of corn.


Although prayers vary somewhat, these are several well-defined patterns.


A child may be given several names.


It is a developed idea among the Tewa that one in authority needs the qualities of both sexes.


There is really no tabu among the Tewa against speaking the names of the dead but apparently they believe that the spirits of the dead should leave the homes of the living.


This is a part of the Scalp Ceremony of Santa Clara.


Whenever possible a secret grave is made for the warrior who dies in battle.