Saturday, 10 July 2010


Papago Indian Woman

In The Blue Night

How shall I begin my song
In the blue night that is settling?
I will sit here and begin my song.

In The Dark I Enter

I can not make out what I see.
In the dark I enter.
I can not make out what I see.

I See Spirit-Tufts Of White Feathers

Ahead of me some owl feathers are lying,
I hear something running toward me,
They pass by me, and farther ahead
I see spirit-tufts of downy white feathers.

In The Great Night

In the great night my heart will go out,
Toward me the darkness comes rattling,
In the great night my heart will go out.

I Am Going To See The Land

I am going far to see the land,
I am running far to see the land,
While back in my house the songs are intermingling.

The Dawn Approaches

I am afraid it will be daylight before I reach the place to see.
I feel that the rays of the sun are striking me.

The Owl Feather Is Looking 
For The Dawn

The Owl feather is likely to find the daylight.
He is looking for it.
He is looking to see the dawn shine red in the east.

The Morning Star

The morning star is up.
I cross the mountains into the light of the sea.

translated from Papago by Frances Densmore

Owl Woman (1880?), also known by the Spanish name Juana Manwell, was a medicine woman of the Papago Indians. A number of her medicine songs were collected by Frances Densmore in 1920. These songs were taught Owl Woman by spirits of the dead, and in the thirty or forty years prior to 1920 she received hundreds of songs.

These are part of a longer sequence to be sung over a sick person at four intervals throughout the night.