[The Dispatch: The Newsletter of the Center for American Cultural Studies, Columbia University, 6.2 (Spring 1988): 34-41.]

 

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STUDIES IN AMERICAN INDIAN LITERATURES

"Coyote Songs"
by Larry Evers and Felipe S. Molina

 This portion of The Dispatch, which now incorporates SAIL: Studies in American Indian Literatures, offers a transcription, translation, and analysis of a new collection of Yaqui coyote songs.

_______________

INTRODUCTION

    The most pernicious myth about American Indians is that they are vanishing. While many Native American cultures have, alas, been obliterated, many have survived. Like all vital organisms, cultures survive by being flexible, capable of change. Such change is illuminated by COYOTE SONGS, for these "coyote" singers are members of a recently reconstituted Yaqui Bow Leaders Society, a society pledged to the protection of the Hiakim, Yaqui homeland. Yet these singers are the descendents of Yaquis forced from their native territory in Mexico who relocated in Arizona nearly a century ago. The songs, therefore, though traditional in form and content, must also be understood as expressive of new conceptions of Yaqui space.
    Even the traditionality of the songs is strange, for it combines some Christian elements with Yaqui visions and values. It is this "impurity," however, that evidences the native culture's viability through its power of self-transformation. References to Christian saints, for example, may by the contemporary singers be changed into present-day political commentaries. Such complexities of function, context, and implication belie the apparently simple repetitiveness of individual songs, which, of course, accompany dancing that adds a physical dimension of significance to this profoundly performative literary art.
    I make these introductory observations because it is important for readers unfamiliar with such material to recognize what Evers and Molina are doing: combining as inseparable literary transcription and ongoing cultural history. For "Coyote Songs" are functional to current Yaqui society as it preserves itself by changing under the

pressure of surrounding American civilization, redefining central Yaqui cultural commitments through new reexpressions of ancient Yaqui art forms.
    Although lip service is now customarily paid to the existence of native cultures by American society, appreciation of the aesthetic factor in such cultures is still minimal. Appreciation has been hindered not merely by ignorance, but, more dangerously, by writers and translators who, even when well-intentioned, have preferred to ignore the specificities of particular Indian art forms. White poets and prose writers have increasingly seized on a few superficial characteristics of Indian literary art to develop pseudo "mythic" or "archetypal" imitations that in fact merely update the paternalistic and exploitive concept of "primitivism" launched by Modern Art at the beginning of our century. An antidote to such literary "white shamanism"--so properly offensive to Native Americans--is presented by the difficult simplicities and strange-seeming particularizations of "Coyote Songs," renderings of a genuine Yaqui reconstitution of an ancient genre.

                          Karl Kroeber

 

Part I
HOW THE COYOTES CAME BACK TO OLD PASCUA: Contexts

    April 11, 1987, on the eve of Palm Sunday, with an Easter moon on the rise, the Coyotes came back to Old Pascua. And with them came a traditional genre of poetic expression that has not been performed in that Yaqui Indian community since 1941.
    We write to tell a part of the story of that return and to offer transcriptions and translations of the nine songs to which the Coyotes danced the night they came back.
    Victor Lucero, Timothy Cruz, Steven Garcia, Felipe Garcia, and Joaquin Garcia were the Coyotes who danced that night. Felipe S. Molina sang for them. Their performance was the culmination of a long period of preparation. Felipe remembers the events that led to that performance this way:

      About 1982 Larry Evers gave me a copy of some Coyote songs that Amos Taub had collected from Yaqui elders, such as Ignacio Alvarez and Refugio Savala, in the Tucson area in the early 1950s. This collection provided me with new songs that I could learn to sing. I went ahead and practiced the songs for my own interest, but as I practiced I was keeping in mind that maybe one day I would sing for some Bow Leader dancers.
    It so happens that in my village the young boys, ranging in ages from, let's say six to about eighteen, are interested in doing various forms of Yaqui dance and song. Some of the boys have learned many deer songs. They all have performed in a village or household pahko. Some have also learned some of the steps and movements of the deer dance. Because I have been working with these boys, I have been noticed in the Yaqui communities around Tucson. That is how Raul Cancio came into the picture.
    For many months Raul Cancio tried to get in touch with me to talk about the Bow Leaders. I always forgot to call him back or to leave a message for him. Victor Lucero is one of the boys that I sing with in the village. Victor pushed me along the way to get a Bow Leaders group formed. He was the person that kept telling me that Raul Cancio wanted to talk to me about forming a Bow Leaders group. I didn't give much thought to the idea then, but it always stayed somewhere in my mind.
    So finally in the fall of 1985 I met Raul Cancio for the first time, and we talked awhile about ourselves. He knew something about me, but he was a complete stranger to me. However, I knew his wife because she was a god-mother to my nephew. Anyway, from this conversation developed the notion that we would start a Bow Leaders group and that Raul would provide the necessary headdresses and other regalia if I would sing. We decided to hold the practice sessions in Yoem Pueblo at my house. So through this meeting our friendship was made and a Bow Leaders group was formed at Yoem Pueblo.
    I did not intend to be in Old Pascua

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at all during the Holy Week ceremonies in 1987. I had intended to go to Potam in the Rio Yaqui area, so that I could see the Looria there. But I was given a god-child to sponsor for Holy-Saturday in Old Pascua, so I could not go. So with that responsibility I had to stay for Holy Saturday. Since I was going to be there I was asked to sing for the deer dancer during the Palm Sunday pahko and also again to sing for him during the Looria and the Holy Saturday pahko.
      Before Lent, Victor Lucero kept asking me if the new Bow Leaders group could participate in the Easter ceremonies. I said I didn't really know because I thought I might go to Potam. So we never got started at the beginning of Lent. So finally Palm Saturday was approaching so Victor got on my case again and wanted to know if the group could dance at the pahko. I told him that I really couldn't tell him yes or no because I was going to be singing for the deer dance. He said I could alternate between the Bow Leaders and the Deer. Finally through much contemplation I agreed and told him I would talk to the Fariseo Captain. The Captain was delighted to hear the request. He said heewi, it would be wonderful.
      So it seems that the group, especially Victor, was very happy to participate in the ceremonials. The group all went and danced and participated in the pahko. I alternated between the two groups all night long, first singing the Deer Songs inside the rama with the raspers, then going outside with the drum to sing Coyote Songs. Yaqui people were very happy to see and hear the two groups. All the non-Yaquis who came seemed very happy, too, but most of them did not know what we were doing. They thought that the Bow Leaders were part of the deer dance.

 

    Wo'im. Coyotes, is what most Yaquis call them now. But in the talk of Yaqui elders they are appropriately called Wiko'i Yau'ura, the Bow Leaders. The Bow Leaders have served Yaqui communities for centuries as a military society. They are mentioned in the earliest writing about Yaquis, the memoirs of the Jesuit Andres Perez de Ribas published in 1645. Three and one-half centuries later, the Bow Leaders remain active in many of the towns along the Rio Yaqui on the wide coastal plain south of Guaymas, Sonora: Torim, Vikam, Potam, Rahum, Pitahaya, Loma Vahkom.
    As recently as 1927, the Coyotes took up their bows and arrows and their rifles against Mexicans who were attempting yet again to appropriate Yaqui lands. Today

they are most visible during certain pahkom, ceremonial occasions when Yaquis gather to perform religious rituals and to celebrate. On these occasions the Coyotes dance and perform burlesques to special songs, as they work to entertain those drawn to their performances. What they do with their songs and their dances is playful, light-hearted, fun. But their dance and song contribute, too, to their most fundamental role and their most serious duty: the Bow Leaders are the stewards of Hiakim, the Yaqui homeland, and they are bound by sacred vows to protect it.

   The main function of a Bow Leader was to protect the land for the people. Nowadays the society's main function is a religious duty. The Bow Leaders have many obligations to the church and other ceremonial activities throughout the year. At the same time they act like guardians during a ceremonial to keep drinking and fighting out of the plaza or the household patio where a ceremonial is taking place.
   Before the person decides to become a lifetime member he or she goes through many hours of counsel to get a better view of how it is to be a member. Many sad stories are told about how hard it can be during certain ceremonies when there is no food, when the weather is too cold or too hot, or when fatigue makes carrying out the duty very difficult. Stories are told that death is probable in times of war and that the one who is initiated could become food for the wild animals or the vultures.
   The modern initiation ritual takes place in a church. The person who wants to be initiated formally tells the officials of the Bow Leaders. After hearing the speech the officials accept the person and answer in a formal speech. During this time the date for the initiation ritual is set so that both parties are satisfied with the date. Then it is up to the joining person to look for a god-father and a god-mother to help. The god-parents are usually members in the Bow Leaders, but not always. They can be Bow Leaders from a different village.
   The initiation ceremony is carried out in the church around mid-morning. Starting at the church altar the god-parents are on either side of their god-child, the man on the right and the woman on the left. They walk out together to the elder cross in the plaza. They walk from the altar to the elder cross three times going in a counter clockwise direction. The new member is dressed completely in the Bow Leader regalia, including his bow and a quiver

with several arrows. After the third trip they stop in front of the church altar and the new member kneels down.
   The initiation involves being blessed with a Yaqui rosary and then with a small crucifix. Finally the new member will be pushed down to the floor three times. This concludes the church part of the ritual. Back at the Bow Leaders Headquarters a formal reception speech is given and a feast takes place. There is dancing at intervals. Both the Bow Leaders members and those spectators who are formally requested can dance. However, the first three songs are danced by the captain of the Bow Leaders and two soldiers. After that visitors will be invited to dance. This celebration will continue into the early evening.
     Our Bow Leaders group in Yoem Pueblo is still only a few years old and none of the members here in Arizona have gone through a formal initiation. I do not know if they will.

 

    The presence of the Bow Leaders Society in Arizona has always been tenuous. Members of the group probably first came to live in Arizona with other Yaqui refugees who were forced out of their homeland in southern Sonora in the 1890s and early 1900s. During those years around the turn of the century Yaquis suffered brutal oppression from a Mexican government bent on deportation and outright genocide as ways of possessing the rich well-watered farmland of the Yaquis. Thousands of Yaquis were captured and sent to work as slaves in Yucatan. Others Yaquis managed to escape north over the border into southern Arizona. These Yaquis brought many of their cultural traditions with them to this place that some older Yaquis still call "Ringo Bwia," Gringo Land.
    During the 1920s a Bow Leaders group formed at the village we now call Old Pascua in Tucson, and they continued to perform through the 1930s. The last remembered performance was in 1941. Edward H. Spicer suggests that because the Bow Leaders Society was so tied to Hiakam, the Yaqui homeland, it "had no immediate significance for Yaquis who had decided to forsake the tribal territory and make their home indefinitely in new and different land."
    It may be significant then that the recent revival of the Coyote society in southern Arizona follows the acquisition of community lands here. In the 1960s a group of Yaqui acquired title to some 202 acres from the federal government and moved there to establish the community known as New Pascua. That community has now grown to about a thousand acres of land. In 1890

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 Yaquis living in Yoem Pueblo were able to purchase the land upon which their village rests from the private water company that owned it. These small parts of Ringo Bwia are not now and, likely, will never be regarded as Hiakim by Yaquis. But over more than eighty years they have lived in southern Arizona Yaquis have named and imagined the landscape around their communities in ways that echo their homeland. The revival of the Coyote society may be a sign that they are ready to take a role as stewards of the space they have been imagining.

   The first time I heard about the Coyotes was when I was growing up in my grandfathers' house. My grandparents didn't talk too much about them but I remember that they said that they should be called the Bow Leaders.
     What first interested me about the Bow Leaders was the time in 1971 when they were supposed to appear at New Pascua. People were excited to hear that a Bow Leaders group was coming from the Yaqui country in Sonora to participate in the Christo Rey pahko. The night of the pahko, at that particular time when the Bow Leaders were supposed to dance, the plaza at New Pascua was packed.
   But what was disappointing was that the Bow Leaders did not dance. They just sat there. Finally about 1:00 or 2:00 AM they began to dance. A big circle formed around the area where the group danced. What fascinated me was the headdress. I enjoyed watching the way the hawk feathers flew as the Coyotes danced. The dancers were not very enthusiastic and the singing was hard to hear. So I was not impressed by this group. But what happened in the early morning hours as we drove to our home near Marana did impress me. A coyote ran across the road in front of us. Everybody yelled, "Look, Wo'i!"

    Yaquis think of the natural world of the Sonoran Desert as one living community. This community is called huya ania, the wilderness world. One of the things that binds those who live in the huya ania together is a common language, the language of song. Like deer songs, coyote songs are a part of this language of the wilderness world. They may describe or give a volce to any of the inhabitants of the huya ania: coyote, rattlesnake, skunk, badger, fox, dragonfly, crow, vultures, the desert tortoise, to name a few. Others that may be referred to in the songs are sewa yoleme (flower person), yo yoleme (enchanted person), and machiwa yoleme

 (dawn person). Yoeme is the Yaqui word for person. Yoemem, People, is what Yaquis call themselves in their own language. The yoemem who appear in the songs--the flower person, the enchanted person, the dawn person--are persons who have special relationships with the other inhabitants of the wilderness world. Coyote songs may also describe the dancers and the objects with which they dance: their headdresses, their bows and arrows. There are songs, too, that are mostly about Christian figures such as Saint Francis, Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint John and so on. Felipe considers these songs about the saints to be newer songs. "Newer" in his understanding means they may date from the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries, sometime after the Jesuits arrived on the Rio Yaqui in 1617.
    Like deer songs, the songs of the Bow Leaders have two parts, u vat weeme, the first part, which is repeated three or four times or more, and u tonua, the concluding part, which is sung once to complete the song. We give only one repetition of the first part for the songs that we transcribe and translate here.
    The dancers' movements are keyed to these two parts of the song: the first part is sung over and over as the dancers dance away from the singer, the concluding part as they dance back to the place in front of him where they began. As he moves from the first part to the concluding part of the song, the singer shifts to a different drum rhythm. This change in rhythm serves as a signal to the dancers that they should begin to dance back toward the singer. Because of this, it is said that during the concluding part "the drum calls them back," u kuvahe ameu chai.
    The singer may choose to sing any of the coyote songs that he knows. In that sense, there is no fixed sequence of songs. However, a song called Sontao Ya'uchim, Soldier Leaders, is usually the first song sung, and, like deer songs, the other songs follow a progression through evening songs, midnight songs and morning songs. The subjects of the songs and the manner in which they are danced gets increasingly playful as the night progresses. The songs that we translate here are given in the order in with Felipe sang them at Old Pascua.
    The singer accompanies himself with a drum. There is a sounding hole in the rim of the drum, and traditionally the singer sings into that hole. It can be difficult, then, to hear exactly what he is saying. This is a performance custom that singers take advantage of or not depending on the occasion.
    Punning and other kinds of word play

  may be important features of the performance and of comments on the performance by members of the audience. This is called nokita kwaktala, word turned around or reversed. By singing into the sounding hole of the drum, or not, the singer is able to mask, or reveal, such word play.
    Felipe notes that when he sings, in order to amuse himself and the few in the audience who listen closely to him, a singer might substitute names in some songs. In the song about Saint Francis and Saint Peter which we translate below, for example, a singer might substitute such names from the international news as Reagan and Gorbachev in the place of the names of the feuding saints. Or, too, the names of tribal politicians if they have been sparring publicly. When Felipe sang the song about Saint Peter sitting at the door of heaven, translated below, an audience member punned a version of the words that turned Saint Peter into a fly sitting before a woman's vagina, her "door of heaven."

 

Part II
WHAT THEY SAID: Songs

Sontao Ya'uchim

eme sontao ya'uchim
    vanseka
        tu'ulisi
           chomoka
               hisaka

yewi yewima
    katema
      yewi yewima
        katema

katema
    katema
        katema
            katema....

vanseka
    tu'ulisi
        tavelo masata
            sialapti
                chomoka
                    hisaka

yewi yewima
    katema
        yewi yewima
            katema

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 katema
    katema
        katema
            katema
                katema....

 

Soldier Leaders

You, soldier leaders,
    go ahead,
        beautifully,
            with the mask,
                with the headdress,

Out, out,
    then, walk,
        out, out,
            then, walk,

Walk,
    walk,
        walk,
            walk

Go ahead,
    beautifully,
        with a parrot wing,
            covered green,
                with the mask,
                     with the headdress,

Out, out
    then, walk,
        out, out,
            then, walk,

Walk,
    walk,
        walk,
            walk,
               walk....

 

This song describes the dancers the first time they are coming out at a ceremony.

The first time the bow dancers come out they bless the ground in the four directions: first to the east, then the north, the south, and finally the west. This is called kusaroapo bwiata teochiawame, blessing the earth in the way of the cross. The bow dancers do this because they have a special obligation to protect Hiakim, the sacred lands of the Yaquis.

 * * *

Yoyo Vaka Hiuwa

yoyo vaka hiuwa
    yoyo vaka hiuwa
        hakunsa vo'oka
            masa moye
                masa moye

yoyo vaka hiuwa
    yoyo vaka hiuwa
hakunsa vo'oka
    masa moye
    
    masa moye

masa moye
    moye
    
    moye
            moye
                moye....

ayamansu seyewailo saniloapo huyapo
    hikatsu vo'oka
        masa moye
            masa moye

yoyo vaka hiuwa
    yoyo vaka hiuwa

hakunsa vo'oka
    masa moye
        masa masa moye

masa moye
    moye
        moye
            moye
                moye....

 

Enchanted Bamboo Arrow

Enchanted, enchanted bamboo arrow,
    enchanted, enchanted bamboo arrow,

Where are you lying,
    with wing decaying,
        with wing decaying?

Enchanted, enchanted bamboo arrow,
    enchanted, enchanted bamboo arrow,

Where are you lying,
    with wing decaying,
        with wing decaying?

 Wing decaying,
    decaying,
        decaying,
        decaying,
        decaying....

Over there, in the flower-covered mesquite
       grove,
    on a tree top, you are lying,
        with wing decaying,
            with wing decaying,

Enchanted, enchanted bamboo arrow,
    enchanted, enchanted bamboo arrow,

Where are you lying,
    with wing decaying,
        with wing decaying?

Enchanted, enchanted bamboo arrow,
    enchanted, enchanted bamboo arrow,

Where are are you lying,
    with wing decaying,
        wing, wing decaying?

Wing decaying,
    decaying,
        decaying,
            decaying ,
               decaying....

Masa, wing, refers to the feathers used as fletching; vaka, bamboo, to a local bamboo called carrizo in Spanish. Carrizo is used for a very wide variety of functions in the Rio Yaqui country: the walls of traditional houses are woven from carrizo, carrizo canes are split and woven to create baskets and floor mats, ceremonial flutes are made from carrizo.

* * *

Yoyo Vaikumarewi

yoyo vaikumarewi
    yo va'ata vepasu
        cha'aka
           masata yowa

yoyo vaikumarewi
    yo va'ata vepasu
        cha'aka
            haivusu masata yowa

masata yowa
    yowa
        yowa
            yowa....

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 ayamansu seyewailo
    yo va'ata
        maneka vepa
            cha'aka
                haivusu masata yowa

yoyo vaikumarewi
    yo va'ata vepasu
        cha'aka
            haivusu masata yowa

masata yowa
    yowa
        yowa
            yowa
                yowa....

Enchanted, Enchanted Dragonfly

Enchanted, enchanted dragonfly,
    above the enchanted water,
        is hovering,
            wing shaking.

Enchanted, enchanted dragonfly,
    above the enchanted water,
        is hovering,
            wing already shaking.

Wing shaking,
    shaking,
        shaking,
            shaking.. ..

Over there, above the flower-covered
    enchanted water,
        where it sits,
            it is hovering,
                wing already shaking

Enchanted, enchanted dragonfly,
    above the enchanted water,
        is hovering,
        wing already shaking

Wing shaking,
    shaking,
        shaking,
            shaking,
                shaking....

 

* * *

Kooni Mahai

kooni
    hitasa mahaika
        saiyula vo'oka
            saiyula vo'oka

kooni kooni
    hitasa mahaika
        saiyula vo'oka
            saiyula vo'oka

vo'oka
    vo'oka
        vo'oka
            vo'oka....

katikun
    vaka hiuwata mahaika
        wamsu
            saiyula vo'oka

saiyula vo'oka

kooni kooni
    hitasa mahaika
        saiyula vo'oka
            saiyula vo'oka

vo'oka
    vo'oka
        vo'oka
            vo'oka....

Crow is Afraid

Crow,
    what are you afraid of,
        huddled, lying,
            huddled, lying?

Crow, crow,
    what are you afraid of,
        huddled, lying,
            huddled, lying?

Lying,
    lying,
        lying,
            lying....

Don't you remember,
    you are afraid of
        the bamboo arrow over there,
            huddled, lying,

Huddled, lying,

Crow, crow,
    what are you afraid of,
        huddled, lying,
            huddled, lying,

Lying
    lying,
        lying,
            lying....

 * * *

San Juan San Pasihkota Wiko'i Kottak

San Juan
    San Pasihkota wiko'i
        su kottak

San Juan
    San Pasihkota wiko'i
        su kottak

kottak
    kottak
        kottak
            kottak....

machiauvicha
    su kitteka
        haitowikti a
            wikeka kottak

machiauvicha
    su kitteka
        haitowikti a
            wikeka kottak

kottak
    kottak
        kottak
            kottak....

 

Saint John Broke the Bow of St. Francis

Saint John,
    the bow of Saint Francis
        did break.

Saint John,
    the bow of Saint Francis
        did break.

Break,
    break,
        break,
            break....


Toward the dawn
    he did stand,
        snapped,
            pulled,
              broke it.

Toward the dawn
    he did stand,
        snapped,
            pulled,
                broke it.

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 Break,
    break,
        break,
            break....



In the early 1940s, Lucas Chavez, a singer from Old Pascua, told folklorist Ruth Warner Giddings:

Coyote dancers...attend the annual celebrations to San Francis at Magdelena, Sonora...they worship the Saint by dancing to a song which praises Saint Francis as a great Yaqui soldier who was able to kill a very powerful bird called kupahe. The feathers of this bird are worn in the coyote dancers' headdress.

About the same time Refugio Savala told Muriel Thayer Painter:

Another old song refers to San Francisco Xavier being in the army as a soldier. San Pedro is supposed to have borrowed a bow and arrow from San Francisco Xavier and to have pulled on the bow until it broke.


* * *

San Peo Tu'uwata Noka

San Peo
    teeka pwetapo kateka
        tu'uwata noka

San Peo
    teeka pwetapo kateka
        tu'uwata noka

noka
    noka
        noka
            noka....

ayamansu
    seyewailo santo
        teweka looria pwetapo katek
            tu'uwata noka

San Peo
    teeka pwetapo kateka
        tu'uwata noka

noka
    noka
        noka
            noka....

Saint Peter Talks About Goodness

Saint Peter,
    sitting at heaven's door,
        goodness talks.

Saint Peter,
    sitting at heaven's door,
        goodness talks.

Talks,
    talks,
        talks,
            talks....

Over there,
    sitting at the flower-covered,
        holy heaven's door,
            goodness talks.

Saint Peter,
    sitting at heaven's door,
        goodness talks.

Talks,
    talks,
        talks,
            talks....

Refugio Savala, again to Muriel Thayer Painter in the 1940s:

[Saint Peter] is supposed to be the captain of the army, and the advisor of the army. He is in a coyote song for dancing, and, in a way, it says that San Pedro sits at the gate of headquarters and advises the soldiers.

* * *

Hepela

eme sontao ya'uchim
    tulisi hepela
        kateka
        nausu yewe
            nausu yewe

eme sontao ya'uchim
    tulisi hepela
        kateka
            nausu yewe
                nausu yewe

 yewe
    yewe
        yewe
            yewe....

Imsu sewa votsu
    hepela kateka
        nausu yewe

yewe
    yewe
        yewe
            yewe....

 

Side By Side

You, soldier leaders,
    beautifully, side by side,
        are walking,
            together playing,
                together playing.

You, soldier leaders
    beautifully, side by side
        are walking,
            together playing,
                together playing.

Playing,
    playing,
        playing,
            playing....

Here, on the flower road,
    side by side,
        you are walking,
            together playing.

You, soldier leaders,
    beautifully, side by side,
        are walking,
            together playing,
                together playing.

Playing,
    playing,
        playing,
            playing....

 

The Bow Leaders dance three at a time. Their usual formation is not natchaka kaate, one after the other walking, nor

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mochala, bunched up as in a crowd, but rather, as this song describes them, hepela, side by side.

Side by side, in rhythm and perfectly in step is the definitive posture of their dance. But like the deer dancer and the pahkolam they may perform yeuwame, plays, in which they act out certain songs. In one, often performed near the end of the pahko, the people who are giving the pahko put out a plate of barbecued meat on the ground between the singer and the dancers. The singer sings about coyotes as the dancers dance out in their usual way, then turn around and dance in backwards, dropping to all fours only at the last instant and fighting like coyotes over the plate of meat. Then they resume dancing in their usual position, hepela, side by side, but now one coyote has meat in his mouth.

*     *     *

Yoyo A'akame

yoyo a'akame
    sevipo vo'voka

siirisiiriti hia
    siirisiiriti hia
        siirisiiriti hia

hia
    hia
        hia
            hia....

katikun
    taewalita sumeiyaka
        haivusu sevipo vo'oka

siirisiiriti hia
    siirisiiriti hia
        siirisiiriti hia

hia
    hia
        hia
            hia....

 

Enchanted, Enchanted Sidewinder

Enchanted, enchanted sidewinder,
    in the cactus is lying,

siirisiiri, sounding,
    siirisiiri, sounding
        siirisiiri, sounding

 sounding
    sounding
        sounding
            sounding ....

Remember,
    he is frightened of the day,
        already, in the cactus lying

siirisiiri, sounding,
    siirisiiri, sounding,
        siirisiiri, sounding

sounding
    sounding
        sounding
            sounding ....

The word for both horns and antlers is aawam. The sidewinder rattlesnake is called a'akame because of its "horns," the prominent triangular projections above its eyes.

This is a play song. When Felipe sings it, the dancers dance all the way out during the repetitions of the first stanza as usual, but when the concluding stanza begins, "when the drum calls them back," they get down on the ground and slither like snakes.

*     *     *

Hupa

hupa
    hu'upa kutapo
        kateka

to'e to'eti hia
    to'e to'eti hia
        to'e to'eti hia

hia
    hia
        hia
            hia....

katikun
    yo hu'upapo
        kateka
            to'e to'eti hia
                to'e to'eti hia

hupa
    hu'upa kutapo
        kateka

to'e to'eti hia
    to'e to'eti hia
        to'e to'eti hia

 hia
    hia
        hia
            hia....

 

Skunk

Skunk
    on the mesquite wood
        is sitting,

to'e to'e, sounding,
    to'e to'e, sounding,
        to'e to'e, sounding,

sounding,
    sounding,
        sounding,
            sounding ....

Remember,
    on the enchanted mesquite,
        he is sitting, sounding,

Skunk
    on the mesquite wood
        is sitting,

to'e to'e, sounding,
    to'e to'e, sounding,
        to'e to'e, sounding,

sounding,
    sounding,
        sounding,
            sounding ....


Some older Yaquis use a tongue twister that plays with sounds like this song. The tongue twister goes like this:

        hupa hu'upapo
        vetuku kateka
        huvam huhak

        skunk in mesquite
        under sitting
        stinky farted


*     *     *

 

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 BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Larry Evers and Felipe S. Molina, Yaqui Deer Songs/Maso Bwikam: A Native American Poetry (Tucson: Sun Tracks and the University of Arizona Press, 1987) gives an account of how we understand our collaboration and the work of translating Yaqui verbal arts for non-Yaqui audiences. In that book, we give a full review of earlier attempts to record and translate Yaqui verbal arts, as well as a summary of approaches to the translation, interpretation and appreciation of the verbal arts throughout native America.

Edward H. Spicer's The Yaquis: A Cultural History (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1980) provides a very

comprehensive discussion of Yaqui history and culture. See especially pages 164-176 for his discussion of the Coyote Society as protectors of Yaqui lands. Muriel Thayer Painter, With Good Heart: Yaqui Beliefs and Ceremonies in Pascua Village (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1986), is an encyclopedic work made from the direct testimony of dozens of anonymous Yaqui consultants. We have quoted Refugio Savala, a.k.a. informant "55," from this work. See Felipe S. Molina and Larry Evers, "Muriel Thayer Painter's With Good Heart: Two Views," Journal of the Southwest, 29, No. 1 (Spring 1987), pp. 96-106.

Ruth Warner Giddings gathered the only substantive collection of Yaqui narratives as an M.A. thesis under Professor Edward

 Spicer's direction in 1945. We quote from that work, "Folk Literature of the Yaqui Indians," rather than the heavily edited version of it that was published as Yaqui Myths and Legends (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1959). Leticia Varela, an ethnomusicologist at the University of Hermosillo, includes commentary on the Coyote Society in her study La Musica en La Vida de Los Yaquis (Hermosillo, Sonora: Secretaria de Fomento Educativo y Cultura, 1986). Of particular interest is her transcription of a formal speech made for initiates to the Bow Leaders Society. See pages 50-55. Amos Taub, "Traditional Poetry of the Yaqui Indians," an M.A. thesis (University of Arizona, 1950), was prepared under the direction of Edward Spicer and Frances Gillmor.