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Remembering 1492:
A Joint American Indian-Jewish 
Flute Concert

Gordon Bronitsky, PhD

(Dieser Text in Deutsch)

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All white people look alike - and they're all Christians. Indians are the colorful backdrop to real American history, but they're not around anymore. It's time Jews and Indians got beyond the stereotypes.

Native American and Jewish leaders know that neither group can hope to safeguard the survival of their people without the shared interest and commitment to cultural pluralism on the part of other groups in the society.

Although members of either group may not be aware, Jews and Indians face many common issues and problems. Both groups have to deal with segments of our society which are increasingly intolerant of pluralism and diversity, We need to become vanguards in the protection of the fundamental right to cultural diversity. We need to forthrightly affirm our freedom as peoples to exist and develop in our own ways.

The American Indian Perspective

Since the first contact of Europeans with the peoples of the Western Hemisphere, each colonial government has adopted policies which view the status of "Indians" as solely dependent upon the colonial government's good will, whether political, legal or moral. Within their perceived mandates, these colonial governments developed and reinforced an ideology which emphasized the distinction between "the high culture" (i.e. European) and the "low culture" (i.e., tribal). Whole generations of American Indians have been conditioned to accept the idea that their own communities are inferior to that of mainstream society and that the only solution to problems of cultural and economic dominance would be assimilation.

At the core of this arrangement is a fundamental ideological issue regarding the right of the tribal nations to exist autonomously of the American nation. In large part the issue has never been confronted directly. Instead, America and its leadership have promoted, often blindly, a policy of cultural assimilation. This policy, coupled with a lack of self-esteem among Indian people, has given rise to a broad range of destructive social pathologies, all symptoms of the failure of "assimilation".

The Jewish View

Similarly, Christian and Moslem governments have often regarded their own religious beliefs as superior. Beliefs of Jews and other religious minorities were all too often seen as inferior, with the political status of members of these minorities dependent on the whim of the majority. In many eras of Jewish history, governments have encouraged Jews to regard assimilation or conversion as the solution to minority status.

By coming together to share music and memories, we can begin to reach out to each other.

The Concert

The freedom to express a unique cultural and religious identity must be viewed as a fundamental human right. As Indians and Jews, we are well aware of the attacks on this right in the past, and the current struggles to maintain our identities as distinct cultural and religious communities. To learn about each other's struggles and reach out to each other, we must first listen to each other. A place to begin is sharing our collective histories and memories of 1492, the year of Columbus' arrival in this hemisphere, and also the year of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain.

The Program

As a first step in this process of listening, The Jewish Federation of Greater Albuquerque is meeting with the governors of the three neighboring Indian tribes in regard to working with them as copartners in this concert. They are:

Alvino Lucero
Isleta Pueblo
PO Box 317
Isleta, NM 87022
FAX 505-869-4236

Stuwart Paisano
Sandia Pueblo
Box 6008
Bernalillo, NM 87004
FAX 505-867-9235

Lawrence Montoya
Santa Ana Pueblo
2 Dove Rd
Bernalillo, NM 87004
FAX 505-867-3395

The goal is a joint presentation of Remembering 1492: a joint American Indian/Jewish flute concert on. The program will consist of four works by Fernando Cellicion, a traditional Native American flautist from Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico, and Avi Elam-Amzalag, an Israeli of international reputation, interspersed with short readings taken from Jewish accounts of the expulsion of the Jews of Spain and from Indian accounts of Indian history after the arrival of Europeans..

Fernando Cellicion is leader of the Fernando Cellicion Traditional Zuni Dancers. The group has performed at a broad range of venues, including the World Music Festival in Tokyo, Japan, and in the Pacific under the auspices of the USIS, and at the Gallup (New Mexico) Intertribal Ceremonials, New Mexico State Fair, Connecticut River Rendezvous and parades, celebrations, pow-wows and other functions throughout the United States. The group has won many top honors in dance competitions. Many of their songs have been heard on such programs at NPR, and the group has been featured at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, several times. The group has also appeared on NBC's Today Show, ABC's Good Morning America and CBS' This Morning. The group's music and dance has been featured on the video, Indian Dances of the Zuni Pueblo, which was released in 1996 by Indian Sounds of Oklahoma.

In addition, Fernando Cellicion is an accomplished traditional fluteplayer, and has performed throughout the United States and in Italy. His recordings include

The Traditional Indian Flute of Fernando Cellicion
The Traditional and Contemporary Indian Flute of Fernando Cellicion
Buffalo Spirit
Kokopelli Dreams

Avi Elam-Amzalag was born in Morocco and has devoted his life to preserving and perpetuating the Sephardic heritage. He is the founder of the Israel Andalusian Orchestra which has toured world wide.

haGalil onLine 06-11-2000

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