USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘tribes’
Customs
Festival
general
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Tsatsapipianu (Grain Harvest Festival)

Sophie is an international student from Taiwan. She is pursuing a B.S. in Computer Science at the University of Southern California. She hopes to find a career in computer security and plans to stay in the United States, specifically Los Angeles, to work. She enjoys watching anime and learning; from USC-sponsored workshops, she has learned how to code and create chatbots.

Original Script

So, in Taiwan in this Aborigine tribe, we have this—no, not we—the Aborigines have this tradition that, uh, they create this giant swing. And then, um, so the princesses will be princess-carried into the swing. And then a guy will swing her up into the air and the higher she swings, it means the more possible she’s going to get married. And when she goes down the swing, a guy has to carry her and go around the swing for one round so her feet doesn’t touch the ground before going around the swing.

Background Information about the Performance from the Informant

One of the informant’s friends belongs to the Rukai tribe of Taiwan. In high school, the informant attended the Tsatsapipianu, or the Grain Harvest Festival, with her friend. She witnessed the Rukai perform this tradition around a large swing, called talaisi, and found the practice romantic.

Context of the Performance

I interviewed the informant in a study room at Parkside IRC.

One of Taiwan’s aboriginal peoples, the Rukai, view swings as representations of love, similar to that of a red rose. During the Rukai’s Grain Harvest Festival, a giant swing is used to present an opportunity for young single people to get to know one another. Due to its size, the talaisi requires two men to operate the swing, allowing the young maiden sitting on the swing to meet the men who wish to court her. Swings, known in the Rukai’s language as tiyuma, function as an effective method of communication for romance and possible marriage.

My Thoughts about the Performance

I thought this tradition of the Rukai is quite romantic. Marriage is a holy ceremony found in most, if not all, cultures around the world. It is a symbolic representation of commitment that binds two partners together as a family. In the culture of the Rukai people, this universal rite is seen as a time for friends and relatives from both partners’ families to unite as one large, extended family. Therefore, the talaisi, as a representation of romance, is surrounded by the village chief and all members of the tribe, who observe young men push the woman they wish to court on the swing. I admire how this practice does not involve merely two people; it encompasses everyone and brings them together as a community.

Customs
general
Legends

The Legend of Chief Wa-ta-hote-a-hoe and his Indian tribe

The informant describes the legend of Chief Wa-ta-hote-a-hoe; a legend from his Jewish summer camp that he went to in the valley of Colorado.  The Jewish camp is for campers ranging from ages eight to sixteen.  This tradition has value for him because he has partaken in it for many years and holds it as a fond memory of camp.  The story is also meant to promote cooperation between campers and unity.

There is a big rock formation out of nowhere that appears to have been placed there near his camp.  The story goes that there was an Indian tribe that lived there and the chief had three sons.  Wa-ta-hote-a-hoe was the chief and he left the kingdom to his three sons who each was skilled in a different thing.  After the chief left the sons argued and battled for power over the kingdom.  In the end the three sons ended up cooperating.  It is believed that the spirit of Chief Wa-ta-hote-a-hoe will always bring the camp together. 

After the legend of Chief Wa-ta-hote-a-hoe is told the entire camp yells together: “Waaaaaaa-taaaaaa-hoteeeee-a-hoeeeee.”  Then a counselor goes way behind a cave and ten seconds later gives a response of: “Waaaa-taaa-hoteee-a-hoeee.”

The story of Chief Wa-ta-hote-a-hoe demonstrates the purposes of legends to sometimes promote positive ideas for a group of people.  It is evident that the summer camp uses the story of the chief to instill the idea of cooperation and unity into the campers.  It is interesting to note that the camp uses a physical piece of its landscape to develop stories around it.  It is interesting to note that the legend is effective with younger children.

Festival
general

Native American Centennial Festival

According to this informant, a foreign man now working in downtown L.A., the weekend of April 28 and 29, 2012 will host a centennial celebration at the Grand Canyon for all of the Native Americans to toast the anniversary of officially aquiring their reservation in the area. It is a celebration that has never been had, and according to the informant, their will be dancing, food, fire, and life the whole night/days-through.

The informant, even struggling to communicate fully in English, tried his very best to communicate the importance and excitement he held for his culture (although he is Chilean, he was originally from the U.S.).

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