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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 29, 2002 - Issue 64


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Mountain Horse Song Set for Rodeo Finals

credits: Anthony Lee of Shiprock rehearses the Four Sacred Mountains Horse Song before a crowd of rodeo officials Wednesday in preparation for the upcoming National High School Finals Rodeo opening ceremonies at McGee Park.
FARMINGTON, NM - A small crowd lined the gate leading to Arena 1 at McGee Park Wednesday, listening to the rehearsal of the Four Sacred Mountains Horse Song, which will be sung during the National High School Finals Rodeo.

The blessing is a warpath song which will be performed at 8:30 a.m. July 22, right before the opening ceremonies for the rodeo.

"We were asked by the National High School Rodeo Association to provide something with the Navajo culture in it and to include them in everything we could," said Tres Rios Executive Director ElizaBeth Scott.

"When we presented this to their executive director, he thought it was a good idea."

Shiprock resident Anthony Lee, from the Red Cheek Clan, will be performing the ceremonial song, along with Clinton Jim and Jim's son Winston and niece Yolanda Nez.

"The singing I learned as a young boy at 10 or 11 years old. I learned the songs from my grandfather," Lee said. "The song itself means from the east, my white horse is calling me."

The south is represented by a gray horse, the west by a palomino or yellow horse, and the north by a black horse.

The song calls on the horses from the central mountains, Lee said, and represents the wealth the Din people have.

"How we cherish our animals is what it's saying," Lee said.

The significance of the song being performed at the National High School Finals Rodeo is mainly for the participants and their dependence on their animals.

"These kids, their livelihood surrounds these animals," Lee said. "It's a way of life for them. And for us as Din people, it's a very significant thing to have that."

Nez and Winston Jim will ride around the arena on horseback throughout the ceremony.

They were considering having only one rider, but Jim said because male and female is always represented in Din culture, that tradition will be carried over to the blessing. The song itself is the male version, which lasts less than eight minutes.

The ceremony will also include white and blue corn, which also represents the male and female aspects, and smoke.

"In one of the words I say, of life in itself,' that represents the male," Lee said.

"The smoke signifies life. Fire was here way before our time and it carries our prayers."

Clinton Jim will be placing footsteps in the dirt, signifying each direction, as the horses are being called.

"We're going to put information together for people," Jim said. "So once I mark it, they can follow along."

Jim said the ceremony is a blessing for the family and will be a special thing to be able to perform the ceremony for all of the families that will be at the rodeo.

"That way of life is not a religion for us," Jim said. "It's just our way of life."

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