The Pueblo Indians In Story, Song and Dance

Sung and told by Swift Eagle

The stories and songs of Swift Eagle are older than America itself, for the Indians who first sang and told them have lived on this continent for thousands of years.

Long before Columbus set out on the voyage that brought him to the new World, Indians had made their homes throughout this land, living wherever there was water to drink animals to provide fresh meat, or soil rich enough to grow corn. America offered all these things, and the earliest history of our land was founded upon the Indians' way of life.

But the Indians had no written language to record the happenings of their times. We must reconstruct them from the buried remains of their homes, silent with time and decay. We can only hear of them from the Indians who live today, from the story-tellers who still spin the myths and legends that recall the ancient past.

Sometimes these story-tellers are medicine-men to whom the gods revealed great wisdom. Often they are old men who remember the exploits of their fathers and grandfathers. A few were born to be story-tellers, like Swift Eagle, whose Pueblo Indian ancestors have lived in the valley of the Rio Grande at least for a thousand years. The Pueblo tribesmen are perhaps the greatest story-tellers of all, for their history is rich with the traditions of people who carved their lives from a desolate land of forbidding canyons and trackless deserts.

Today the Pueblo Indians still live in the valley of the Rio Grande. They plant their crops and hunt and dance for the gods as they have always done. But at night when the story-tellers speak in low, musical voices, telling of things mysterious and sacred, while existing in a harsher world no longer their own, that lost epoch for a little while returns.

–Charles Gallenkamp

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