from Alcheringa Issue One, 1970
Dennis Tedlock & Jerome Rothenberg
Statement of Intention
As the first magazine of the worlds tribal poetries, ALCHERINGA will not be a scholarly "journal of ethnopoetics" so much as a place where tribal poetry can appear in English translation & can act (in the oldest & newest of poetic traditions) to change mens minds & lives. While its sources will be different from other poetry magazines, it will be aiming at the startling & revelatory presentation that has been common to our avant gardes. Along the way we hope
by exploring the full range of mans poetries, to enlarge our understanding of what a poem may be
to provide a ground for experiments in the translation of tribal/oral poetry & a forum to discuss the possibilities & problems of translation from widely divergent cultures
to encourage poets to participate actively in the translation of tribal/oral poetry
to encourage ethnologists & linguists to do work increasingly ignored by academic publications in their fields, namely to present the tribal poetries as values in themselves rather than as ethnographic data
to be a vanguard for the initiation of cooperative projects along these lines between poets, wthnologists, songmen, & others
to return to complex / "primitive" systems of poetry as (intermedia) performance, etc., & to explore ways of presenting these in translation
to emphasize by example & commentary the relevance of tribal poetry to where we are today: thus, in Gary Snyders words, "to master the archaic & the primitive as models of basic nature-related cultures...knowing that we are the first human beings in history to have all of mans cultures available to our study, & being free enough of the weight of traditional cultures to seek out a larger identity"
to assist the free development of ethnic self-awareness among young Indians & others so concerned, by encouraging a knowledgeable, loving respect among them & all people for the worlds tribal past & present to combat cultural genocide in all its manifestations.
ALCHERINGA..."dream time" of the Arunta..."The Eternal Dream Time"...(or) "The Dreaming"...of a sacred heroic time long long ago when man & nature came to be...a kind of narrative of things that once happened; a kind of charter of things that still happen; & a kind of logos or principle of order transcending everything significant...the act of dreaming, as reality & symbol, (by which)...the artist is inspired to produce a new song...(by which) the mind makes contact with whatever mystery it is that connects The Dreaming & the Here-&-Now.
W.E.H. Stanner, "The Dreaming"
what the informant told Franz Boas in 1920 (Keresan)
long ago her mother
had to sing this song and so
she had to grind along with it
the corn people have a song too
it is very good
I refuse to tell it
The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or Geniuses, calling them by names &
adorning them with the properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, & whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could perceive.
And particularly they studied the genius of each city & country, placing it under its mental deity;
Til a system was formed, which some took advantage of, & enslaved the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental deities from their objects: thus began Priesthood;
Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales.
And at length they pronouncd that the Gods had orderd such things.
Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast.
William Blake (1790)
Time flows past the permanent central position...they live at a place called noon, at the center of the world, the only place where space & time intersect.
Stanley Diamond, from "Anaguta Cosmography" (Nigeria)
O, they were hot for the world they lived in, these Maya, hot to get it down the way it wasthe way it is, my fellow citizens.
Sioux Vision Event
Go to a mountain-top & cry for a vision.
It was a vast old religion, greater than anything we know: more starkly & nakedly religious...For the whole lifeeffort of man was to get his life into contact with the elemental life of the cosmos, mountain-life, cloud-life, thunder-life, air-life, earth-life, sun-life. To come into immediate felt contact, without an intermediary or mediator, is the root meaning of religion, & at the sacred races, the runners hurled themselves in a terrible cumulative effort, through the air, to come at last into naked contact with the very life of the air, which is the life of the clouds, & so of the rain.
A Wintu Indian Statement on the Ecological Crisis
The White people never cared for land or deer or bear. When we Indians kill meat, we eat it all up. When we dig roots we make little holes. When we build houses, we make little holes. When we burn grass for grasshoppers, we dont ruin things. We shake down acorns & pinenuts. We dont chop down the trees. We only use dead wood. But the White people plow up the ground, pull up the trees, kill everything. The tree says, Dont. I am sore. Dont hurt me. But they chop it down & cut it up. The spirit of the land hates them. They blast out trees & stir it up to its depths. They saw up the trees. That hurts them. The Indians never hurt anything, but the White people destroy all. They blast rocks & scatter them on the ground. The rock says, Dont! You are hurting me. But the White people pay no attention. When the Indians use rocks, they take little
round ones for their cooking...How can the spirit of the earth like the White man?...Everywhere the White man has touched it, it is sore.
Old woman speaking to Dorothy Lee "in a prophetic vein"
teyalanne / ground
tekinaye / the ground is wet
teananne / footprint
teyacchinne / cultivated field
tekyappowanne / hill
tewutsoya / the weather is clear
teneanaye / a strong wind is blowing
tetsenaye / the weather is cold
tehtsinaye / it is winter
telakwayi / spring
tehya / it is valuable
telhasshianne / shrine
teshkwinne / taboo
tewusu / sacred
tewusukkya / pray
tenanne / song
tepehanne / pottery drum
telapnanne / story
tesshukwa / yesterday
tehlhia / night is coming
tewani / tomorrow
tewankwin / eastward
teyaye / living
tekohannanne / daylight
tekohannan aahoi / daylight people (mankind)
The American Indian is the vengeful ghost lurking in the back of the troubled American mind. Which is why we lash out with such ferocity & passion, so muddied a heart, at the black-haired young peasants & soldiers who are the "Viet Cong." That ghost will claim the next generation as its own. When this has happened, citizens of the USA will at last begin to be Americans, truly at home on the continent, in love with their land. The chorus of a Cheyenne Ghost Dance song"hi-niswavitakini""We shall live again."
He who loses his dreaming is lost.