White Mountain Apache, Pine Top, Arizona
Join us as we travel the distant and fascinating lands of Indian Country. This download was originally aired nationally as a public radio program titled Oyate Ta Olowan--The Songs of the People during the 90s. Each Oyate download includes the 30 minute program plus the full length songs featured during the program.
See the longer description below to hear a short clip of this show and to read for a full account of our journey to meet Harris.
Oyate Ta Olowan was produced by Milt and Jamie Lee with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts. The series was aired nationally by Public Radio International.
White Mountain Apache from Pine Top, Arizona
Harris Burnette, a White Mountain Apache, began singing when he was seven years old. He was helping his father at a ceremony in Cibecue when he had a dream. The next day, during the ceremonies, he knew the songs and what they were about. He realized then that he was not just a “boy” anymore and he set aside all else to help his father with the ceremonies. He has been doing this ever since.
Although he is fairly young, he has a quiet presence and power about him. His voice is rich and healing and we were able to understand how important his role is in the community. Harris is of the Bear Clan, one of seven clans of the Apache. The drum he uses is a metal pot filled with water and covered with stretched rubber. The drumstick is about fourteen inches long and has a small loop at the end.
The Apache called themselves Tinde, which means “The People.” The different bands of Apache people were split between the mountains and the desert. Although they shared cultural and religious beliefs, lifestyle was determined by the food sources. The desert bands hunted buffalo and gathered food from the lands like the plains people. The mountain bands developed an agricultural economy and were able to rely less on hunting and gathering.
The Apache people were fine craftspeople and made elaborate ceremonial items, coiled basketry and finely-tanned clothing and adornments. They were also fierce warriors, known for their raids and magnificent fighting skills. Within their own tribes, the social and moral laws were equally powerful.
Return to Oyate Main Page
Listen to a short sample here.