Herman Agoyo, Anthony S. Archuleta, Cipriano Garcia, Peter Garcia, Jerry Garcia, Steven Trujillo
Produced and annotated by Charlotte Heth, a member of the Cherokee nation of Oklahoma and a noted ethnomusicologist.
The four Turtle Dance Songs recorded on this disc accompany a religious dance performed in San Juan at the winter solstice. They celebrate sons and daughters, youth, renewal, grace, beauty, and fertility. The Turtle Dance is easily the most important public religious ceremony of the San Juan calendar, defining the end of one year and the beginning of a new one. The dance is named for the Turtle, believed to be the first hibernating being that moves about after the year has turned; thus, the turtle is seen as symbolizing the beginning of each new annual cycle. Because the Turtle Dance and songs usher in a new year, the four songs must be composed anew for each year's performance.
The Pueblo of San Juan, from which these songs derive, is one of six Tewa-speaking villages located in north-central New Mexico along the Rio Grande and its tributaries. Gold-seeking early Spanish explorers applied the word "Pueblo" (town) to the Tewa, Tiwa, Towa, Keres, and Zuni of New Mexico, as well as to the Hopi of Arizona to distinguish these agricultural, town-dwelling Indians from their nomadic Apache, Navajo, and Plains neighbors.