|Southern California Traditional Tipai Song- 2002|
|TRADITIONAL TIPAI SONG CLASS DQ SYCUAN 2001
By Roy Cook
Indian summer, fall in San Diego County, is a beautiful time. As dusk lengthens the mountain shadows, the air becomes crisp. There is stillness in these valleys. At DQ campus Sycuan this stillness is filled with anticipation.
In our first class, after introductions and coffee, Jon is listening and evaluating. Students sing from a tape by Leroy Elliot that was obtained through the previous class. We continue to sing a couple more songs.
We talk about what we have been doing this past summer, singing on our own, and what has brought us to this point together. Jon asks to use one of the extra gourds and off we go!
Much is the same, everything is different. Gourd position, movement of the gourd, structure of the song and frequency of the lifts. Even so, the strength of the song is such to overcome this unpredictability. These are great songs! We like what we hear. We try harder to 'catch' the tune. Many of the words are familiar. It is becoming fun. We beam with smiles all around as we work to be a part of the song. We feel we are living the Waimie experience. Jon is patient and assuring to us, now, 'his' students.
He offers us his best songs, unconditionally and encouraging in his comments. His attitude is open and relaxed toward technology. He simply states, "These are my songs and all who hear or have heard them know whose songs they are." This is a very generous and enlightened perspective of a confident teacher. Fifteen weeks of learning Tipai Nyemie Traditional songs have presented views and obligations that will long be a responsibility of these fortunate students at DQ-Sycuan.
This following brief description is part of an observation I was privileged to experience as a result of performing a small favor for our teacher Jon Meza Cuero. VHS tape private collection; "Kuri kuri scene; two youths singing-Jon in background-Young dancers in foreground. Song is Wildcat, clearly one of Jon's songs. This scene is the image of hope and the future assured. It speaks volumes to the continuity of the Native American culture. It is a vital and momentous statement in a metaphorical context. The setting and the size of the group are both poignant and compelling. This clip 'of the future' allows us to view the images of an earlier time in the context of today.
Additionally, these and other images speak volumes to the Native American Tribal Validity south of the imposed border regardless of geographical and political proximity of other influences (USA, Canada, and Mexico). With this reality, let us hope the unfounded maliciousness of prejudice and bias will no longer be supported by ignorance."
Review of Nyemie song class- Fall, 2001 By Roy Cook, student
Our teacher is adamant about establishing the historical character of the Wildcat songs. Jon has often said,
" I learned these songs from my Father when I was seven years of age. At that time my father was 85 years of age. He learned the songs from his father when his father was 85 years old. I am now seventy-five. How many years is that?" At first, I thought this was a rhetorical statement. Upon reflection I can recognize my error in perception. One of the constant qualities learned from participating in tribal song and association with tribal singers and lead singers in particular is a sense of singer/song territoriality. Many lead singers establish their 'credentials' to present their repertoire by acknowledging their debt to those who taught them the songs.
We feel there are literal meanings to the words and allegorical significance
that extend beyond the basic level. We can only hope to glimpse this world
of rich imagery and epic journey by cultural hero and trickster tales.
Humans can remember for long periods. They remember who they are and where
they come from. They remember critical events like great floods and star
bursts. They remember where they were created. If they move (or migrate)
to a very different ecosystem they remember the move and the painful process
of learning how to succeed in a new homeland.