INDIANS OF SOUTHERN ARIZONA LOVE TO DANCE THE CHICKEN SCRATCH 03/21/99 The traditional Native American dance looks nothing like its name, and no one seems to know why. Chicken scratch. It's a dance that resembles a slow polka, Western two-step or free-style rumba, not a barnyard animal pecking at the dirt. Ron Joaquin, leader of the popular Southern Scratch band and a second-generation chicken scratch musician, knows two versions of how the 120-year-old dance got its name. "The first way was that, when Anglos saw us dancing, we kind of scrunched over with our heels back, and we resembled chickens scratching in the dirt," he said. "I've also heard that our people have seen Anglos dancing, and that's what they resembled." Confusion over its name aside, chicken scratch has enticed generation after generation of Native Americans in southern Arizona. Chicken scratch is the dance of choice in isolated desert communities in the area from the Mexican border to Scottsdale, remaining a fixture at festivals, weddings, birthday parties, queen coronations and death anniversaries. "It's a favorite pastime out here, even for little kids," said Gena Enos, while listening to the Santa Rosa Band play on the first night of the Gila River Indian Community's major Mul-Chu-Tha fair recently in Sacaton. Along with its own footwork, the dance also has its own music. Chicken scratch is a blend of European and Mexican music that the Tohono O'odham Indians and Akimel O'odham, or Pima, Indians melded into a peppy sound, without vocals or words. Members of the Tohono O'odham Nation, however, consider chicken scratch an old-fashioned and, at times, an insulting term. They call their music and dance "waila," which comes from baile, the Spanish word for dance. One musician said that in the O'odham language, a "b" is pronounced as a "w, " resulting in waila. But on the Gila River and Salt River Indian communities south and east of the Phoenix area, it's proudly called chicken scratch. "It's not like mainstream pop," said Steve Butler of Canyon Records, a Phoenix company that specializes in Native American music. "This little art form is still cranking out bands, songs and music. New generations are playing it. There's something there." The Phoenix company has produced 56 chicken scratch albums since the 1970s, including a 1994 chicken scratch Christmas album that reached a broader audience (See: In general, however, most buyers are Indians who live in southern Arizona. Butler said he believes one reason the dance music survives is that southern Arizona Indians, like other West Coast tribes, generally keep to themselves, thus protecting their cultural rituals. As Tucson folklorist Jim Griffith explained, "Once the O'odhams get something, they like to hang on to it. They like to keep doing it. It's been so long in their culture that they feel it's their music." Another reason for its staying power is more basic. The dance and music are just fun. Teresa Jackson, 28, a fitness specialist at the Gila River Indian Community's Wellness Center in Sacaton and a chicken scratcher, explained, "It has a happy, let's-dance atmosphere to it." She estimates at least 40 percent of the Gila River Indians' young people are fans of chicken scratch. They're also into hip-hop, heavy metal, rhythm and blues, and country-Western. Jackson is teaching her fiance, Leslie Enos, 23, to do the chicken scratch. Dressed in baggy pants and carrying a skateboard, he doesn't look like someone who would learn a dance named after a bird. But Jackson wants him to do a chicken scratch dance at their wedding, so learn he will. Today the three major scratch-dancing styles are the two-step, one-step and the Caribbean-style cumbia, which is especially popular among young adults and teens. The two-step dances are similar to a slow polka, with an unhurried tempo for the summer when it's too hot to dance fast. Of the three styles, nothing fills the dance floor like the cumbia. Maybe because cumbia dancers can do whatever they want and don't need lessons _ or partners. All the dancers move in a circle counterclockwise. Parents and grandparents dance with children, or children dance alone. At a Friendship Fun Days festival recently in Stanfield, the floor remained empty until Southern Scratch broke into cumbia music. "When people hear cumbia music, they say, `Cumbia!' and go, `Yahoo!"' Jackson said. Sometimes the floor is so crowded, dancers barely have room to move. They really get to screaming. They have a good time." From a musician's point of view, chicken scratch or waila music is a hoot to play but a lot of work, Joaquin said. Among the people of the Tohono O'odham Nation, where chicken scratch reigns, dances sometimes last until morning. Joaquin, 36, who lives near Florence, said he has played for dances, with as many as four bands present, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. "We've done it by ourselves from 8 to 6, with two 15-minute breaks," Joaquin said. "People keep honking their horns when we take a break more than 15 minutes. They won't stop until we start playing." Waila musicians play from memory and don't read music. "It's weird because nobody reads music.... It was three years ago that I learned that on a piano the black keys were sharps or flats," Joaquin said. Their lack of formal training doesn't cramp their style, however. "Most of the bands can play all night without repeating a song," he said. The musicians tend to grow up with the music, with waila and chicken scratch musicians running in families. Joaquin's grandfather played fiddle, his father led the Joaquin Brothers waila band and his teenage son is a member of the Young Waila Musicians band. Chicken scratch evolved from old-style fiddle music played in the 1800s. Griffith, of the Southwest Folklore Center at the University of Arizona, said he read of a Tohono O'odham (then called Papago) old-style fiddle band playing waltz-type mazurkas and schottisches and other polka-inspired European dances in Tucson in 1860. Since the Indians lived in or near Mexico, the music eventually took on a Mexican flair, with a Norteno influence and the introduction of the cumbia. Also in the 1950s and 1960s, most O'odham old-time fiddle scratch bands switched from acoustical instruments to electric guitars, saxophones and accordions. Today a band generally includes an alto saxophone and accordion to play the melody, with electric guitars and drums in the background. There are about 20 bands on the Tohono O'odham Nation alone. For southern Arizona Indians, chicken scratch is a staple of celebrations, one of the state's little-known cultural exports. Joaquin has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City as well as at folk festivals in the East. Butler said the music "is not much of a scene in other tribes." He added, "Others may have two-step dances, but they're not called chicken scratch. It really belongs to the people of southern Arizona deserts."

Borderlands: From Conjunto To Chicken Scratch, Music Of The Rio Grande Valley Of Texas And Southern Arizona

Singing for Power: The Song Magic of the Papago Indians of Southern Arizona

Sing Down the Rain Etched into rock by the Fremont people 1,000 years ago, the designs depict lizards, bighorn sheep, chieftains, princesses wearing headdresses and necklaces and figures playing the didgeridoo or flute. It's not known if these were religious or clan symbols, seasonal calendars, stories told in pictures or merely graffiti by the Indians who lived in Utah from about 200 to 1250 A.D. Nowhere in Utah can you see more petroglyphs in one area. There are about 34 traditional ceremonies left, only a handful of medicine men left to perform them and a growing population of Navajos. The Arizona Pathfinders have planned a three-day getaway to several historic sites in the Globe area. The trip is scheduled April 8-10. Events planned include a guided walk through the Besh-Ba-Gowah and Gila Pueblo ruins, as well as a stop at Aravaipa Canyon and site of the Camp Grant Massacre. A traditional Apache meal will be served. Ads for The Arizona Office of Tourism includes photos of Arizona's scenic spots and revolves around the phrase "This is not." Nine ads have been approved and start appearing in September in the magazines Better Homes & Gardens, Conde Nast Traveler, New Yorker and Smithsonian. Newspapers scheduled to run the ads include the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Washington Post. [ Hmmm... $2 M to imitate " This is not your father's Oldsmobile " ?? ] The oil field derrick - usually with oil gushing out the top - ranks with the longhorn steer and the cowboy on the bucking bronco among the enduring symbols of Texas. Some black Seminoles still live in the Mexican village called Nacimiento de los Negros, in the Santa Rosa Mountains about 150 miles southwest of Brackettville. The scouts served against border bandits, hostile Indians and Mexican rebels who tried to operate from Texas. The unit, dissolved in 1914, has its own cemetery near Brackettville. This spring, as many as four wagon trains will retrace the steps of thousands of gold-hungry prospectors who stampeded west during the California gold rush, 150 years ago. At least two, and perhaps as many as four, wagon trains will cross the Plains, Rockies and Great Basin this spring and summer to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the California National Historic Trail. Built over a four-year period beginning in 1924 by pioneer archaeologists William and Elizabeth Campbell from stones they collected while exploring the desert, the home is now a bed and breakfast. The Campbells collected thousands of Native American and other desert artifacts before Bill's death in 1944. Elizabeth died in 1971. Now known as the Campbell Collection and housed at Joshua Tree National Park HQ, the collected treasures once were housed in a stone cottage on the Roughley grounds that served as the desert satellite of Los Angeles' Southwestern Museum. The couple published several papers on their archaeological finds for the museum. Nationally, historic preservation is seen as an economic development tool.,1575,SAV-9903220039,00.html Somebody broke into Waupun Heritage Museum last week and took several antiques that were on display. Missing are a double-barreled shotgun, two 1840 percussion rifles, six World War I and World War II service medals, six Civil War bayonets and three swords. The Historical Society is spending $35,000 to build a caretaker's apartment in the building to preserve it from vandals. The theory is that with someone living in the building, vandals will stay away. AUGUSTA - A proposal to use $10,000 to step up protective monitoring of Indian archaeological sites around Maine received a lukewarm reception Friday. The older-is-deeper rule doesn't always apply. Earthquakes, floods, rivers that change course, and even burrowing rodents can move the archaeological furniture around. The Library of Congress next month will choose the final winners from among a variety of institutions competing to make their historical collections available on LOC's World Wide Web site. The site currently stores more than 1 million multimedia items. The most recent collection to be added contains more than 8,000 photographs documenting the Lower Rio Grande Valley during the early 1900s. Best work environment: Statistician; Mathematician; Computer analyst; Hospital administrator; Historian Where does your job rank? 1. Web site manager 2. Actuary 3. Computer systems analyst 4. Software engineer 5. Mathematician 6. Computer programmer 7. Accountant 8. Industrial engineer 9. Hospital administrator 10. Web developer 11. Paralegal assistant 12. Parole officer 13. Meteorologist 14. Technical writer 15. Medical secretary 16. Medical technologist 17. Financial planner 18. Medical laboratory technician 19. Astronomer 20. Historian 68. Anthropologist 93. Archaeologist 103. Museum curator 116. College professors 122. Conservationist