The San Pasqual Ipai at the base of Palomar Mt. will host an annual Bird song and Peon contest on June 21, 2014.
For Ipai and Kumeyaay Indians, who live in San Diego County and in Baja California, the perpetuation of traditional songs is extremely important to the maintenance of cultural identity. Traditionally, there was the oral tradition language and songs conveyed the telling of journeys, historical events, the creation, and valor were an integral part of traditional Kumeyaay life, conveying traditional knowledge, history and social values.
Today, the most commonly known song cycle is that of Tukuk Bird Songs, which are used for ceremonial and entertainment. These songs have allowed the Kumeyaay to maintain a connection with their cultural past despite the contact with and destructive influences of European intrusions. Other song cycles, which include wildcat and salt dances and perhaps 10 other regional variations are still sung. Specific rules govern the way in which they are sung and presented. Because of the quantity and length of these songs, it takes many years of practice and imitation to learn and master their presentation.
Jon Meza Cuero is possibly one a few Kumeyaay in the United States who knows the wildcat cycle of songs, one of the many cycles of songs sung by the Kumeyaay. Born in Potrero, California, he was raised by relatives on the Mexican side of the border after his mother’s death when he was two years old. He returned to the San Diego area when he was about 20 years old. He speaks four languages–two dialects of Kumeyaay, Spanish, and English. He is well known in Baja California, where he teaches youth in the language and songs of the Kumeyaay and where he sings regularly at Kumeyaay social events.
need to preserve my people’s culture has been very important to me and by learning these songs I will be able to pass this tradition on to others.
Everyone is invited.
Written by Roy Cook