Look at these images of La Virgen de Guadalupe. What do they tell you about the different forms that beliefs can take along the border? Where would you expect to find a picture of La Virgen? Can you find any other elements of traditional celebrations in the pictures? More La Virgen pictures
At the 1993 Festival of American Folklife, Blaine Juan, a member of the Tohono O'odham Indian Nation in Southern Arizona, spoke with Jim Griffith, a folklorist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, about the celebrations in his community. These celebrations involve music, dancing [Sacred Pascola dance with video], and food. As Jim Griffith explains, you can't learn the music in school, or from a book in the library: this is strictly "living, oral tradition." What other information can you find about this community and its celebration?
Jim Griffith: Blaine, could you paint a picture of what a feast is like in one of the small villages? ... How many people live in San Simon, ... a couple hundred?
Blaine Juan: No, it's about 30 families.
Jim: And how many people would come in for a feast?
Blaine: Oh, they'll be coming from a distance. They'll probably have maybe about 300.
Jim: And you feed everybody.
Blaine: We feed everybody.
Jim: And when he says feed, he really means feed. The ladies will be cooking all day in an open-air kitchen, and people will come in shifts and sit down at the table and be served great big bowls of red chili stew and beans and beef soup with meat bones.
Blaine: Tamales also.
Jim: Tamales, and tortillas, and wheat bread, and coffee and Kool Aid, and potato salad, because these people aren't living in a museum, they're living in nowadays. So they do some old-fashioned things, and they do some modern things, like potato salad. And this goes on all night. All night they feed people in shifts, and all night the dance band plays.
? Think about the celebrations in your life. These might include religious celebrations, family get-togethers, or sports tournaments at school. How do these events combine old beliefs with new traditions, or, as Jim says, "old-fashioned things" with "modern things"?
[Borderlands/Fronteras] [CFCH Home]
7 April 1996