Bird Song & Dance Festival at Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown February 7th, 2017 Last Updated on: May 19th, 2019

This past Saturday, the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum presented “Singing the Birds (Wikitmallem Tahxmuweh): Bird Song & Dance Festival” at Palm Springs High School in California. This free public event was hosted by Michael Mirelez (Desert Cahuilla) and celebrated traditional Native American bird singing and dancing.

Videographer Albert Chacon was at the event and captured some great energy from the bird singers and dancers.

I get goosebumps every time I hear these songs, so beautiful!

In case you haven't seen our other posts about bird singing, here's a little background from the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum:

Through the ages, bird singing and dancing have been an important part of Native culture for tribes in southern California and other regions of the Southwest. Birds inspired the Cahuilla people to migrate after the death of their creator, Mukat. They saw birds come and go throughout the seasons, and thought they must be going somewhere better. The people followed the birds but lost their way, not knowing where to find water or food. They were caught in snow storms and many people died before they made their way back home. Bird songs are social songs that tell stories about the lessons learned during this migration. A completely oral tradition, they were sung in a precise order that accurately accounted for the chronology of the migration, and depended on their transference from teacher to student. Men and women both participate in singing and dancing while accompanied by the metered beat of rattles.

And good news for all you bird singing fans, I hear there's a second documentary in the works! Stay tuned.

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About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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