Saturday, February 02, 2008

Asking For Vision (Day 3, or 4 maybe, this is where we talk about Hoops)

Tsa-Ka'alim is a beautiful young man. If our Hollywood friends ever allow the WGA members to work again he would be a perfect casting coup for anything involving Native Americans. He looks very Apache to me. He's tall, 6'2", and leanly muscular. He has impossible cheekbones, thick black hair, black eyes. When he dances the Hoops he wears Apache style knee high moccaisins, a fringed hunting shirt that comes down to mid-thigh, a breechcloth for modesty's sake and very little else. He's young and unscarred enough that it works for him well. He moves with the easy grace of an elk. All relaxed potential for action.

He asks his brother, the brilliant attorney to sing while he dances and is obliged. In a high clear and steady voice over insistantly throbbing drums he sings while his brother dances. Tsa Ka'alim begins placing hoops made from willow branches and painted white, black, red, and yellow, all around the area he will be performing.

'ìs' à' nà yái k' è' gòjó 'àná' hòkùs

(long life, like good, moves back and forth)

t'á ìga'ì biìt á'éd yùd'á lzà tc'ìndíi

(white water flows underneath in a circle we have made they say)

Tsa Ka'alim here steps on the edge of a white hoop, it flies up in the air, spinning fast. On the way down he catches it in his hand casually, he plays with it for a bit and passes his entire body through the hoop.

ákó gò'it'á ìgaì bìká nà'íljò jogò'á lzàa tc'ìndíi

(fast white water on it, spread across it, this is made they say)

yò gàii sìyùdì'ìt á nèz' ágò'á lzà tc'ìndíi

(white shells curve over, also under, it rests easy, made by hand they say)

Tsa Ka'alim does this with a hoop of each color. He has four and begins to make simple patterns based upon the Apache medicine wheel. White for the North, intention; black for the South, emotion; yellow the west, action; and, red, in the East where spirit lives.

gòdìt' óo' bàskxà' hílljìij tc'ìndíi

(lightning dances alongside they say)

gòdìt' óo' bèbìik' è nà'ìst'oó tc'ìndíi

(lightning fastened across it they say)

Now, as hoops are added, the patterns are becoming far more complicated. As he picks up each hoop, Tsa Ka'alim passes through it. He makes it look effortlessly easy. It is not. He's just that good.

hí tsáta'ul bìt'ùl á lzà tc'ìndíi

(rainbow is its rope that has been made they say)

t'ádì xì bìtc'ìd bìt'á' sì tsòoz

(a blanket of black water underneath it rests)

t'á'ìgaì bìtc'ìd bìt'á' sì tsòoz

(a blanket of white water underneath it rests)

Tsa Ka'alim is playing with about twenty hoops now. He mimics butterflies, and birds, he plays with the shapes and the colors of the hoops. All this time he moves, often with his eyes closed. It's as if he's imagining his dance as much as making a performance. He has made an especially elaborate pattern that looks like a Celtic Love Knot. Little Kilkii Dani laughs out loud in delight. Tsa Ka'alim laughs with her and makes a circuit of his performance space, hooting in joy and pride. I join his brother in singing.

ìs' àa'nà yáaii keh'eh gòjó ts'áh'áh lzàa tc'ìndíi

(like long life, good young woman she is made, they say)

djùnà' aáii bìnànt àh' bèii bìyì' gùdìtníi tc'ìndíi

(the sun, our chief, beside her, within her, he rumbles they say)

Tsa Ka'alim finishes with 28 hoops. He runs to his new cousin and gives her two of the hoops. He picks her up in his arms and holds her high. He shouts her name. It is shouted back by the people.

He comes over to his brother and I. He passes Girl Who Is Loved By The Ravens over to me. She gives me a big hug around the neck, a kiss on the cheek, and says

Cousin Kaleem says that you and cousin Benny are famous Eagle dancers. Will you be dancing?

I give a look to my cousin. He is searching for ways that we can gracefully refuse.

We can't find one.

Together we say "Yes. We will dance for you."



Blogger Deborah Newell said...

What an absolutely beautiful story!

I could hear the drums and feel the rhythms, I could see the colorful hoops, I could sense the excitement of Girl Who is Loved By The Ravens...

And all without picture or video, which is a testament to your raconteur's talents, sir. (Also, I will admit I was projecting a few dance memories of my own, but still--I couldn't have done so without the narrative.)

An exquisitely painted story of a magic and moving--in every sense--ceremony. Thank you for inviting us white settlers into this intriguing world.

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you ...Beautiful, as always ...
I want the book, I want the damned movie .....

3:06 PM  
Blogger Bitty said...


I typed something else, but then I deleted it. My words were inadequate.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for these images. You have such a gift for transporting people into your world.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Beautiful and magical.

I now await with bated breath, the Eagle's dance. . .

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that you invite us in to share some of your Apache adventures and always look forward to the next installment.

5:52 PM  
Blogger Angry Ballerina said...

Sometimes I kinda wanna smack you, others, I wish I knew more people like you.

Not sure which I am feeling more right now.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Sherry Pasquarello said...

i could almost see it.

i wish i could have had more people in my life years ago, with the heart your family and friends have.

more please.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Liz Blondsense said...

You've painted a beautiful picture in my mind. Thank you once again.

10:21 AM  

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