Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Bit of Culture from The Land of Enchantment

Hello, I have just returned from a trip to my native homeland in New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. While there, I was blessed to tag along with my dear godfather and his lovely girlfriend who happens to be a member of the Ohkay Owingeh tribe. We gathered together to celebrate the Feast of John the Baptist on June 24th. Wow, what a treat! The tribe is a Pueblo Indian tribe which speaks Tewa and is located in the small town of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo near Espanola where I learned that in fact thei pueblo was the first capitol of New Mexico prior to Santa Fe. We arrived at the pueblo on Tuesday afternoon in time to do the mile walk/run race. I was told the significance of this event was to commemorate the time when the Indians would run from pueblo to pueblo to communicate news during the pueblo revolt. Under the oppression of the Spaniards, their legs were cut off to keep them from running and so to honor their ancestors, they keep the tradition alive as a reminder that while the Spaniards might cut their legs off, they could not break their spirit or keep them from running.

Following the race is the start of the dances, specifically, the Buffalo Dances consisting of three dancers, two men and a woman who emulate the Black Buffalo in the summer and the White Buffalo during the winter season. Above are photos of the Black Buffalo dance while below are photos showing the White Buffalo Dance.
These dancers dance seemingly, tirelessly throughout the festival alternating costumes from summer to winter and back again. But wow, aren't they beautiful?!!! And of course, I had to capture a few other dancers as well to further reflect the beauty of the tribe and its traditions.
As I mentioned earlier, this celebration is in honor of the Feast of Saint John the Baptist. and so to commemorate their patron saint of their local San Juan Bautista Church, (the oldest Catholic congregation in the United States), the newly appointed Archbishop John C Wester was there to preside over the occasion. On Wednesday morning at 7 am., the congregation met outside the church to begin the walking procession to the Rio Grande River where the Archbishop would bless the river and all of the people. Below are a few photos of the procession.
Following the blessing at the river, we returned to the church where the Archbishop said mass in honor of St. John the Baptist. This was his first visit to any of the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos and was a treat for sure. The Ohkay Owingeh tribe welcomed him with open arms and the women of the tribe presented him with the most beautiful chasuble made of white buckskin with fringe. It was adorned by numerous seed beads that were meticulously sewn  to reflect the native American style. I must say this was the most gorgeous chasuble I have ever seen and was truly a labor of love. This tribe is well known for its pottery and weaving and their most kind and welcoming ways. They welcomed me with open arms and gave me a glimpse of their beautiful culture and for that, I am most blessed. I am hoping that one day, I might be able to create a piece of artwork from all the inspiration and love that I received. I also hope you have enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed being a part of it.

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