ANCIENT CULTURES

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The Love Song

There is a story about an anthropologist who visited one of the Pueblo towns. He and his crew were recording American Indian music. He talked to the elders and they agreed to help him. He and his small crew set up their equipment and the musicians arrived. Everything was ready.

The musicians drummed and sang their first song. When they were finished, the anthropologist asked them what it meant. “Oh,” replied one of the singers, “It’s about the winter snows blanketing the distant mountains. The trees standing tall and quiet in the stillness of the deep snow, waiting. Spring comes and the snow melts and the mountains burst into life again.”

“Well,” the anthropologist smiled, can we have another song?” “Sure,” the Indians nodded. They drummed and sang, and again the anthropologist asked for the meaning. “The melt-water from the snow melts and joins together into tiny rivulets. The rivulets come together to form a stream. The streams join to fill the river which almost dried out in the late summer.”

Again the anthropologist smiled with encouragement and asked for another song. The Indians beat the drum and sang. Again the anthropologist asked for the meaning.

“Oh,” the singer responded, “When our river fills in the spring, our women and children gather the pots and go down to the river. They smile and chatter and fill the pots and carry the water to their homes.”

This time the anthropologist did not smile. In his frustration he asked them if they had any songs that weren’t about water? The Indians and the anthropologist sat across from each other in an uncomfortable silence. Finally the singer said, “Our country is a desert. Water is what we lack. It’s what we need the most, but don’t have enough of.” Silence closed around the little group once more. “We notice that your people sing a lot about love,” the singer concluded.

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