Interviews – Tewa Dancers

Tewa Dancers From the North – Native American Music and Dance from New Mexico, USA

The Tewa Dancers From the North is an ensemble of Pueblo Native American dancers from New Mexico, USA. The ultimate purpose of Tewa dance is sacred—dance as prayer, dance to keep humanity in harmony with the universe. The group performed for Amma twice during Amritavarsham50. Its members also also participated in the world-peace procession, Mahajalasangamam, representing the seldom-recognized Native American Nation.

“Amma is special for all the good things She has done from the kindness of Her heart.” —White Passing Rain

White Passing Rain,
Curt Garcia

“Amma is special for all the good things She has done from the kindness of Her heart. She’s special in Her own way, in how She communicates with the Creator and Creation. She’s so peaceful. Like, She has no worries.

“My relationship started when I met Her in Santa Fe last summer. I felt like I had already seen Her or knew Her before. I hope my relationship will grow spiritually and physically. She has a lot of knowledge, and I hope to be Her strength, and She’ll be my wisdom to carry on this positive message of embracing the world and to replace negativity with positive influences.

“I’m a cook at the flea market. I dropped out of high school for about a year and a half. When I realized how important school is to me and the community, I returned to the Santa Fe Indian School this past year, thinking it would be spiritual. But it was more worldly and the white man’s way. So now when I return from India, I’ll get my diploma from the Aztec Home School. Then I hope to seek more of Amma and Her message, as well as musical knowledge, to go to school to study music.

“One of my questions [for Her] is, ‘How do I put the right message into my music?’ I want it to be right type of message.”

“We all love Her so much.” —White Aspen

White Aspen,
Andrew Garcia

“My life’s work began in 1968. I was overcoming a big problem—alcoholism. This problem got too big for me to handle. I couldn’t handle it, and it couldn’t handle me. Alcohol and I had a big battle. It put me in a coma for three days and three nights. After coming out of this coma, the doctor said it was a miracle that I was still alive. This was my turning point. I realized I had to make a change in my life. Since I was given a second chance by our Creator, I thought, ‘I’m taking it on.’ I didn’t want to fail my life. Now I’m working with young people, teaching them the ways of our forefathers. I don’t want these young people to lose sight of the things that were given to them by our ancestors.

“Today, as I teach, it gives me an opportunity to travel with them, to share with people wherever we get invited. We share our beautiful culture of our ancestors. It makes me feel good to be able to explain to people the significance of the dances. At one time, our people were very secretive. They didn’t reveal things to non-Indians.

“So when I started working with the young people, I geared them in the right direction and helped them realize the importance of our way of life.

“It’s through dances that we pray and give blessings and also get those blessings back. This was the way of our prayers before we were introduced to Christianity. I have heard the stories from my grandfather, who lived to be 102 years old. He told me about many things we have lost, but he urged me to stay on track, to not lose sight of the dances, the songs, and the regalia as well as the dance customs. I learned many of these things and so, in 1974, I had a meeting with the young people as I was running an alcoholism program in the eight northern pueblos of New Mexico. At that time, we started a prevention program to help the youth. I asked the young people what would help them stay away from alcohol. One young lady raised her hand and asked that they start a dance program so the youth could learn the culture.

“We started to dance, to sing the songs, and then started dancing for hospitals, old-folks homes, schools, for people—raising funds just to help them. In time, the public asked us to dance in functions throughout the surrounding area.

Tewa Dancers From the North

“The first break came when a man who did an internship with us asked us to come to Shawnee, Oklahoma to come dance with his people. We borrowed two vans, and that was the first trip. Since then, we have traveled to many places. We have been to Canada 25 times. We were invited by the Vice President of Spain to dance. We were honored by the Aztec Tribe in Mexico. We have traveled throughout the United States. We also danced for former president Bill Clinton at his inauguration in front of 225,000 people.

“We made a video tape called Dancing from the Heart. Spirituality means you give from the heart. Everything you give comes from your being. When we dance, this is our way of showing our blessing. As soon as the dances are over, the dancers say, ‘Yo ya ye ne.’ It means, ‘Go with life.’ This is how we are taught.

“We met Amma in Santa Fe, New Mexico this year. We did the Eagle Dance then. She asked us why we bought three eagle dancers. She said, when She prays, always three eagles fly overhead. We could have brought six eagle dancers, but that day, we brought three [his grandsons].

“We are honoring Amma with the Eagle Dance and the Women’s Pueblo Dance for Her birthday. Those dances will be the blessing to Amma so She can have many more birthdays.

“We all love Her so much, and we thank Her for bringing us to Her home place. This is the farthest we have traveled. Everyone has treated us so well. They have shown only good to us. We appreciate that.”