Sunday, June 29, 2008

Making Flutes with Antonio

Traditional flute arts at the Art Hop (Pat Murkland Photo)

At the Art Hop in Banning, Antonio Flores was AGAIN mobbed by people of all ages and races who wanted to learn  how to make and play a traditional American Indian flute.

Antonio has that effect on people when he teaches how to make and play the Pomo-style flutes from elderberry wood. He has traveled several times from Oakland to Banning to help Dorothy Ramon Learning Center share the joys of traditional flutes. Each time, a crowd quickly gathers, and soon, everyone is exploring the excitement.

I listened in while he explained to a flute-maker how to measure and make the flute holes:
"I call it Hand Mathematics," he said.
"The length of the flute is measured by your hand. 
Then you use the hand and your fingers to decide where to put the holes.
It's how you'll play the flute.
If you keep your holes off center, you can have two different instruments."
At that point he picked up a flute and played it, then turned it upside down, and played it again.
"See? That will give you two voices on that one flute."

Antonio Flores plays one of his elderberry flutes. (Pat Murkland Photo)

We thank Antonio for sharing the wonders of flute music with everyone! — P.M.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pa'rra'kwit (Poorwill)

Pa'rra'kwim pichiim. The poorwills arrived. Actually, we've seen them earlier in the year and then they were absent. Usually, early in the evening and in the morning before sun rise one can see them on the road. Be careful not to drive too fast, or else you could hit one. They wait until the last minute to fly up. On the Morongo Reservation I used to see and hear them, but didn't know what they were. It's nice to have summer arrive accompanied by pa'rra'kwit. - ES

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cheehun Hitii Hitii'n

Cheehun hitii hitii'n shevek! We are happy indeed! Last Sunday we journeyed to Goleta, California. This was the site of our grandniece's graduation from the University of California, Santa Barbara. It was just yesterday, so it seems that Rachel was graduating from Banning High, which I missed. Then, they described to me her display of the special slogan, Wayta' Yawa' on her gown. This is especially meaningful to those of us who are preoccupied with keeping traditional ideas alive in the use of our language. I was mildly surprised to learn that at that time and we reminisced about that as we witnessed this graduation.The juxtaposition of the old with the new fits so well with defining us as Maarrenga'yam. (Morongos) It seems such a natural thing to do now.

Our folks did such a great job of planting the seeds of the desire for pursuing higher education while keeping our heritage in our hearts. We are presently working on our other nieces and nephews. Maybe, there is a Trojan lurking there! Or, even a Hunat (Bruin) will do. - ES

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Not Being Silent about the Silent Auction

An enormous, fabulous art gourd waiting for you on Aug. 9.

Every year, the Silent Auction at our Dragonfly Gala grows bigger and bigger.

Mind you, in 2006, Malcolm Margolin already had called the auction "epic" in News from Native California magazine. He pointed out that the auction offered top Native American art and many beautifully themed items.
Last year, the auction got sooo big we nearly ran out of space to put everything.
This year, we're talking even bigger and better.

Check out this fabulous gourd art by Idyllwild artist Roberta Corbin:

She calls them "Glorious Gourds." This one is so big it may need its own display table at the Gala!
The lid opens for you to include your treasures inside.

If you come to the Gala and bid at the auction, this can be yours. You'll help an important cause!

The proceeds go directly to our 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, Dorothy Ramon Learning Center.
And the money we raise goes directly to work, saving and sharing Southern California's endangered American Indian cultures, languages, history, and traditional arts.

The Gala is Aug. 9 at Morongo Community Center. The theme this year is "Feeding the People." Watch for more details. — PM

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Teerhich (Proverb)

 Cousin Marigold just sent me a generic sounding proverb. She wanted me to "Serranoize" it. So, to comply with her request I first put my version into English:

Tell me, and I might remember
Show me, but I might forget
Include me, and it is truly ours forever

And, the Serrano:

Ney kuchii teer, mit nehun yawq
Neychii ayn, mitan omik shevek
Werhanich tach nyiiv, ame pat mumk chenyu perrax atahtamerav

Any of our students or friends may want to offer a better or different rendition. Feel free to.
 - ES

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Herngt (Rattlesnake)

I was telling June, my wife, to start being on the alert when we go out to feed our longhorns and horses, since there are reports of rattlesnake encounters in the news almost daily. And people getting bitten, of all things! There is no good reason for anyone to get bitten by a snake except by sheer carelessness. Some people bother them and suffer the consequences. Our folks used to say, "Menarfpa' hye'." ("Watch your feet.") That is be careful where you step.

Yesterday, the propane guy came to deliver us some fuel. I saw him do a quick tell-tale jump. Not bad for a big guy! Sure enough there was herngt (rattlesnake) rattling away. I told the gas guy that he wouldn't be bothered by the snake if he just kept his distance. It worked out fine. The gas guy left and so did herngt. - ES

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Puuhit without Wahii'

This morning Puuhit (Roadrunner, also known as Geococcyx californianus) was perched atop my chainlink fence here in the Canyon. He was gazing back and forth in a very businesslike manner. He definitely was on the lookout! 
But I saw absolutely no signs of Wahii' (Wil E. Coyote). 
The real-life, non-cartoon Puuhit was hunting. 
Roadrunners have a great appetite for all kinds of rodents, insects, reptiles, you name it. And they are a joy to see — most of the time.
As Dorothy Ramon told the tale, "'Ama' mit hamin nyaawnk 'ama' 'emeva' kwa' hii'nk, 'emehpa' mesheheve' penek. 'Ami' hakup me'aaye' puuyu' kurruhk, keym waha'ki' puuhit."
("If one of them flies over you, if one passes over your head, your hair falls out; that's what they say about the roadrunner.") (Ramon and Elliott, 2002)

Hmmn. In this copyrighted photo courtesy of  Dr. Paul Kosnik, it looks as though one Puhyet never flies over another Puhyet. — PM

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Feeding the People

The theme of our Dragonfly Gala this year is "Feeding the People." We will celebrate those who are essential to all cultural traditional ceremonies and events: the cooks who feed the people. We also will explore the cultural meanings and the sacred duties that are behind the hundreds of years of "Feeding the People."
Gerald Clarke Jr. has again graciously donated his artwork to Dorothy Ramon Learning Center for our Gala invitations:
By Gerald Clarke, Jr. Copyright Ushkana Press 2008

Can you name the four important plant foods in the illustration?
The Gala will showcase these plants and more. That's because the Gala is more than a fund-raiser. It's an EVENT.
We'll have demonstrations, booths, and displays featuring native foods that even now, Feed the People. We'll have traditional singing and dancing. Of course eating will be a big part of the event, too! 
Mark Aug. 9, Morongo Community Center, on your calendar and join the crowd (last year we hosted about 400 people).
Each year we give out a Dragonfly Award for high-soaring achievements in saving and sharing cultures.
And our silent auction has gained fame statewide as one of the premier auctions offering Native American art. Watch this blog for some of the auction items!
Keep watching here and on our Center website for more details! — PM

Friday, June 6, 2008

Mary Had A Little Lambda

Following up on "How Is Your Spelling", an earlier post, I thought that an example was in order.
One of the strange looking characters in the International Phonetic Alphabet, the lambda, is one of the symbols I decided to replace in our orthography. In "A Dried Coyote's Tail", Saubel and Elliott, (2004) the double L (ll) is used for this sound. There isn't an equivalent sound in English, but it can be approximated by saying million and holding the ll's while hissing. The words weyllt (dish), tipill (drip), tayullkin (to iron or press) are a few words in Serrano employing this sound.
Still having fun? - ES

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

How's your spelling?

How's your spelling? One of the problems encountered by writers in our language is deciding on whose orthography to use. Each linguist tends to have his own way of writing our language and on each reservation there probably are several ways that are in use by individuals as well. Some, such as San Manuel, have adopted one through discussions in committee. We at the DRLC have been using the system used in "Wayta' Yawa' ", Ramon and Elliott (2002), with slight modifications.

There are many problems in choosing an orthography that suits everyone. One of the main considerations is the user-friendly aspect. How strange or difficult does it look on the page? If there are too many extra characters involved in making a sound, it tends to discourage usage. I am of the opinion that, the simpler the better. Through usage we know when an "e" is pronounced as in yet or as in emi' (you) which I used to spell, umi'.

Confusing? Come to our class, which is held every 1st and 3rd Mondays at 17 W. Hays ST. in Banning, CA., and we can discuss it. - ES

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Say It Again

Keh hamuk. (Say it again.)

That important command is missing today for most people wanting to learn a language, like Serrano. The speakers are just a few individuals who can oblige that request. Our hats are off to those hard working pioneers, linguists and ethnographers who were able to obtain words, sounds and phonemes of our languages from an earlier era. Recordings of these languages are treasured whenever they are found.

Today, we must make our own recordings for educational purposes in general. It seems to me there will be a time when interest in hearing our language will be high. There is written material, but the need for sound recordings of this material is needed.

My plan is to do some recording to accompany the written word. - ES