Hace mucho, pero mucho tiempo, cuando aún no habías nacido tú, ni tus padres, ni tus abuelos, cuando aún no habían casas ni calles, ni habían televisores ni radios, cuando aún no habían libros y los únicos cuentos que existían eran los que se escuchaban contar por los abuelos y las abuelas alrededor del fuego, hace mucho tiempo, cuando las personas todavía salían a cazar y a recolectar frutas silvestres para poder comer, pues aún no sabían cómo cultivar la tierra sembrando semillas, en ese tiempo tan lejano, casi al comienzo de los tiempos, había una niña llamada Pacha. Pacha era una niña muy particular, pues no le gustaba hacer lo que hacían las demás personas. No le gustaba ir de cacería, ni tampoco le gustaba andar por el bosque recolectando frutas silvestres. En cambio, a Pacha le gustaba hacer cosas que a nadie más le interesaba. A Pacha le encantaba jugar en la tierra, enterrando cositas y recordando dónde las había escondido para volver a desenterrarlas. Este era su propio juego. Era un juego de memoria que sólo ella entendía, y con el que ella solita se entretenía.
The English folk song “Here the Rose Buds in June” has long been one of my favorites. It sums up for me the riches of culture and our place in nature. Growing up in the nineteen seventies my environmental awakening was a school bird project at age 13, Young Ornithologists Club membership given to me by an older cousin set me on the route to birdwatching and later a life as a professional ecologist. Despite training as a scientist I have tried to integrate my love for nature into the whole of my life through art, culture and religion. This folk song I discovered at about the time that I started British traditional morris dancing and the words of this song and the earth ethic of folk dance has been a long-term influence. The three time beat and haunting melody gives it an almost hymn like quality, and it has a spiritual resonance. The many authors and holders of this song, and no doubt there were many as it was handed down and honed by several generations of singers, were clear that they were part of nature, and not separated from it as I felt growing up. Here is the song and some of my thoughts...
The bud swelled the spring flower unfolded a blinding blue translucent star Growth: The irreversible increase in dry matter The baby smiled at his mother suckled on the warm soft breast taking sweet nourishment Growth: The irreversible increase in dry matter The new leaf shone vivid green against azure sky where only just before there
We're hearing so much about Indigenous knowledge lately Knowledge about the natural world We want to know that knowledge To understand what we've done wrong To make things better But knowledge alone won't do that for us Stories we hear From indigenous mouths Are not stories of Knowledge of place alone They are stories of Sense of place...
The Tanami track is a rough, corrugated ‘bush highway’ that cuts across the Central Australian desert from Alice Springs northwest to Halls Creek in the Kimberley. While an important artery serving Aboriginal communities and mining operations, this route traverses one of the more remote and unforgiving regions of the country, offering few amenities to the
Petul and I had just finished recording a Tzeltal Maya elder, Don Antonio, who was telling us some of the old stories about people, plants, places, and spirits. The man had been talking for hours, showing no sign of getting tired, in spite of his age. Petul and I, instead, were exhausted. As we sat back, taking a rest, I asked him—my invaluable collaborator through two years of doctoral fieldwork in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico, in the early 1990s: “Well, Petul, I guess this is what you folks normally do at night, sit around with the elders telling stories?” From the puzzled look on Petul’s face, I figured that something wasn’t exactly as I had imagined. “Huh—said Petul after a moment of reflection—actually, that was the way it used to be… But now, you see, the kids are going to school, and when they come back at the end of the day (if the school is close enough that they can come back daily at all), they have homework to do. So that’s what happens at night: they sit at the table under the light bulb and do the homework. Some of the people, also, now have TV, so they sit around and watch TV at night. We don’t spend that much time visiting one another and listening to stories anymore. The kids often think that the old stories are weird, anyway, because of what they learn at school, or see on TV…”
A folk tale from the Great Andamanese tribe that explains why birds are conserved in the Andaman Islands. The last speaker of the Bo language, the late Boa Sr., who died in February 2010, was seen talking to birds, as she believed that birds of Andaman understood her language. This is a story of a boy who belonged to the Jero tribe and lived near the seashore.