EXCERPT: Hopi Katsina Songs

9780803262881-Jacket.inddAn excerpt from Hopi Katsina Songs by Emory Sekaquaptewa, Kenneth C. Hill, and Dorothy K. Washburn, forthcoming March 2015.

Songs Recorded by Natalie Curtis in 1903
Part I: Indiana University Archives of Traditional
Music (IUATM)

1. Angaktsìntawi1
(Curtis Burlin 391, Cylinder 3671, Track 18; IUATM)
Haa’o,2 haa’o, haw3 íngumu.4
Haa’o, haa’o, haw ínamu.5
Itam6 pew7 umumi8 yooya’öki,9
Umùu’uyinawita11 oo’omawutuy12 ökinayani,13
Yaantaniqat15 itam yep16 naawakinaya,17
haa’o ínamu.
Lee lehe la.
Ha’óo18 íngumu,

Hark, hark, o my mothers.

Hark, hark, o my fathers.
We are coming to you as rain,
coming this way.
Along your planted fields, we will make the clouds come
all day long.
We want it to be this way here,
o my fathers.
O my mothers,
we wonder if your life is in accord with Hopi teachings
Perhaps you are living here in accord with Hopi teachings,
o my fathers.
If it is that way, then we clouds, with happy hearts, after clothing ourselves,
start out coming from there on a journey as rain,
coming this way.
Along your planted fields [we] make it rain.
Throughout, all day long.
“Just think, I used to go along humbly singing and dancing while I walked
along from here all along the way.”
Having a beautiful countenance, we come to you as rain.

The katsinas begin their song by calling for the attention of the mothers and fathers of the village. This is not a reference to the people of the village as biological mothers and fathers of their children, but to the people as mothers and fathers of the katsinas. The people live in this present world, the Fourth World, and the katsinas, who are individuals who have passed on, inhabit the next world, the Fifth World. From this perspective, the people are their mothers and fathers. In their songs when the katsinas address the people, it is traditional for them to address the mothers first and then the fathers. By addressing the women first, the katsinas acknowledge their pivotal importance in procreation and thus in the continued survival of the people. However, in many of the recorded songs in this volume, this custom is not always followed. Sometimes only the fathers are addressed and sometimes the fathers are addressed before the mothers.

The katsinas announce that they are coming as rain to the people: “We are coming to you as rain, coming this way.” The katsinas are, of course, the rain. They live in their homes in the four cardinal directions as clouds and, when summoned by the prayers of the people, come as rain to the Hopi lands. In this song the katsinas sing about how they are going to come as clouds all day long, indicating that it is going to be an all-day rain. The katsinas’ statement “We want it to be this way here” means that they have deemed the people deserving of their rain and thus they are coming with beneficent intentions to nurture the people and their planted fields with their rain. The planted fields are to be understood as including all crops—corn, beans, melons, and anything else the people plant, tend and harvest.

However, after some vocables, the katsinas pause to wonder if the people are living their lives according to the principles and practices they accepted at Emergence when they agreed to live by the humble ear of corn. This is a mild indirect admonition to the people that, if they have strayed from adhering to the moral imperatives that sustain communal living, they should rededicate themselves to this life. But then they tell the people, if you are living according to Hopi teachings, then they (the clouds) will be happy to clothe themselves, adorning themselves with rain, and journey to the planted fields with their gift of rain. This is the reciprocal relationship between the people and the katsinas. When the people live by the tenets of the Hopi lifeway, the katsinas will come to sustain them with rain. Since the clouds are animate, indeed they are katsinas, their coming is described as a journey.

The katsinas then sing as if they are the people who are reminding themselves that in the past when they lived humbly, the rains came regularly and they were happy. As if confirming this sentiment, the katsinas respond that they are coming as rain with a beautiful countenance (lolma pitsangwa’yta). Their beautiful countenance is the rain, and by implication, all the good things that the rain brings—a life fulfilled with health, happiness, and the freedom from want.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s