Valerie Naranjo

I am from Colorado
I am from Colorado’s San Luis Valley. My extended family, from the Ute and Navajo nations, reputedly settled Southwestern Colorado some centuries before they were “reserved” there. Most of my father’s and grandfathers generations were farmers. The clan is large and close.

No one in the family had a telephone when I was little, yet we were in continuous contact via the one or two cousins who would bring news and gossip while running the days errands.

Yet, sometimes the only notice we received that family was coming for a visit was the sound of the truck in the driveway, at which time my mother and I would dash about to prepare a big meal. Visits were always completed with music. Someone would grab an instrument, and as if by silent cue, everyone would take his place in the music

Peace comes within the souls
Peace comes within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells Waran-Tanka, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.

Black Elk, Oglala Lakota

Everything, moving or not moving, soulful or not, vibrates. Vibration is the very essence of life.

If we human beings were equipped with the proper “ears”, that is, the correct sensory equipment, we would hear these sound vibrations.

Disharmony of any kind (“misfortune”, “calamity”, physical, social or psychological illness, for example) is simply a symptom that the intrinsically perfect natural order is “out of sync.” When we need to restore that perfect natural order, we must reintroduce a rich, bountiful, harmonious vibration. We make that cause with our voices and the drum. Therefore, the drum in traditional Native American life is much more than an object of intellectual stimulation or social pursuit, more than entertainment, more even than music. It is used to change the life condition of the entire community, equally capable to destroy or devastate as to bring joy and to restore.

It is important that the individual who makes the drum, the one who plays it, the plants and animals that give of themselves, all must be blessed or initiated. While it isn’t necessary to be perfect (even saints and sages make mistakes) each action, word and even thought, is a cause. And those who heal for the community must maintain a “rack-record” of causes that benefit the community.

Everyone, regardless of station in life, continuously makes causes and through those causes teaches precious lessons (since every experience after all is a teacher). Since an artist is, by necessity a spokesperson, his elders ascertain his healthy and positive spirit.