A Moving Native American Musical Performance

Alexandro Querevalu

I thought you might enjoy listening to a Native American musical performance, which is done using handmade musical instruments constructed mostly from natural materials that would have been available on the American landscape to ancient Native Americans. The Native American musician is Alexandro Querevalu, a native of Lima, Peru, and the music is the haunting theme to the motion picture The Last of the Mohicans, which was based on the early 19th century novel of the same name by American writer James Fenimore Cooper. This unique performance is very moving, and it shows a brief glimpse of our ancient Native American past that has been lost forever.  In your minds, if you can block out the festival tourists and masonry floor surrounding this musician, you can easily imagine such an ancient musician offering up a somewhat similar performance with different musical notes in a ceremonial context. Imagine him kneeling and playing his instruments on the great plaza at Mound Bottom, the Mississippian period mound ceremonial center in Cheatham County, Tennessee.  The year is 1153 A.D.

Yes.  I know.  Yours truly is a hopeless Euroamerican romantic, but I do like this musical performance and hope you will too.  Just turn up the volume some on your computer speakers or headphones and click on the following safe link:

Musical Theme to “The Last of the Mohicans” (Reed Flute and Rattles)

Photograph Credit: Gudrun Giese



4 thoughts on “A Moving Native American Musical Performance

    1. Dave

      Just got back from Alaska. I did a week-long project excavating with kids from one of the villages at a culture camp on Lake Clark. I am in Wisconsin with Patty now, and will be heading to Tennessee in 2-3 weeks to intercept the rest of our junk that is being shipped. I hope that all of you are doing well!

      1. dover1952 Post author

        We are doing pretty well Dave. I have been writing a report on my analysis of a 1972 surface collection of lithic artifacts from the Hart site (40DV434) in Davidson County. Chapter 1 is somewhat long, but it is done all except for a site description section. I stopped for a while to ponder how long or short it should be—one of those cases where a person could write three synoptic paragraphs or a short book. You will recall our last visit at Charlie Faulkner’s house and our Thai dinner where he talked about sitting down to write a short article—and it turned into a book. Considering my already lengthy Chapter 1, I have definitely decided on the quick, synoptic option.

        We just got back from a long vacation in Southern Florida (Sanibel-Captiva Islands). We used to vacation there nearly every year in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, but quit going in 1999. Jeff Chapman’s parents used to have a summer home on Captiva Island. After having a brief e-mail exchange with Jeff about Sanibel-Captiva a couple of weeks ago, I decided that we had to go at least one more time before we die—so we did—very expensive—but we had a great and memorable time. We had hoped to take both Leah and Aaron with us. Leah had a lot of work to get done at her workplace and could not go. Aaron did go with us because he is out of high school on summer break. He had never traveled farther south than Atlanta, so he was really excited about the trip and the extensive wildlife environment on the islands. He saw an alligator and two manatees in the lagoon behind our condominium. We saw many other species at various places on the islands. Unfortunately, the bird watching opportunities were not so great on this trip. In years past, we had always enjoyed visiting with the brown pelicans that sit on the dock posts at Tween Waters Inn on Captive Island. However, all over both islands, they have installed cone-shaped plastic post caps on all of the dock posts to prevent the pelicans and other birds from sitting on them. I suspect that has something to do with cleaning up poop and unschooled people trying to feed “people food” to the birds.

        A classic Archaic period shell mound is located and preserved in the J.N. “Ding Darling” National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) installed a long boardwalk trail to the mound many years ago. At the trail head the USFWS has a number of exhibit interpretation signs. The mound is thousands of years old, but it was supposedly constructed by the members of the Calusa Indian tribe that was occupying this part of Florida when the Spanish conquistadors arrived. Double-take—what???!!! That is indeed a problem I have seen often in Southwest Florida over the years in “touristy” places. If it is 400 years old, it is Calusa. If it is 5,000 years old, it is Calusa. If it is 12,000 years old, it is Calusa—just very old Calusa. That’s a stretch if I ever saw one. I sincerely hope Florida archaeologists will intervene in the local tourist trade at some point and disabuse the locals and the USFWS of this notion that every ancient thing in this area is somehow a definitive manifestation of the Historic period Calusa Indians. Yeah. I know. “Our people have been on this land forever.” I will believe that old and worn out traditional claim only when I see definitive scientific evidence that supports it.

        I had hiked down to see this shell mound in the past—during the cooler months of the year. However, this time of the year, the bloodsucking “no see ums” in Southwest Florida are really bad. Aaron really wanted to see the shell mound, so we tried to hike in to see it. About two-thirds of the way down the trail, we ran into a huge swarm of “no see ums” and had to turn back. They were eating us alive, and it was clearly a no-win situation. A large tourist family from Germany (with a small baby) passed us going in as we were going out. A few minutes later, we heard screams of agony and that entire family came running up the boardwalk trail behind us in a fall Olympic sprint with flailing arms. They had clearly never seen anything quite like that swampy bug swarm!!!!

        We did have an unfortunate and very expensive incident that occurred at the very beginning of our trip. We decided to drive down to South Florida in our Honda Odyssey van. A few days prior to our trip, I took the van to our favorite mechanic shop to make sure it was capable of making such a long trip, and the guys did $1,700 worth of work and put new parts on the van to bring it “up to snuff.” One of the original van parts they replaced was a critical portion of the rear axle assembly that syncs with the automatic transmission.

        Well, we began our trip early Thursday morning (two weeks ago) by heading out Pellissippi Parkway to I-40 and then down I-40 to the I-75 interchange and down I-75 toward Lenoir City. About 1 mile before the Sugar Limb Road exit, our van lost its ability to shift gears. We hobbled over onto the side of I-75 and managed to get the van in first gear only—and then down the side of I-75 to the Sugar Limb Road exit, which we took. When our van finally rolled to a halt at a stop sign on Sugar Limb Road—and died—it was raining outside and—-we were stranded out in the middle of rural nowhere. Just across the road from us, a local wrecker service had posted their advertising sign on a farmer’s barbed wire fence. (“And some people say there is no God.”) We called and they quickly sent a wrecker out to get us. The wrecker truck was huge, high off the ground, very old, and quite dirty and greasy—both inside and out. The wrecker guy loaded us into his cab—we looked really out of place in there—and towed the van back to our mechanic shop in Oak Ridge.

        After composing ourselves a bit, we decided to rent a car and continue our trip. Our mechanic took us over to Enterprise Rent-a-Car. We had hoped to find another van to rent. Unfortunately, the only somewhat similar thing they had left on the Enterprise lot was a smallish Jeep Patriot SUV. That being our only recourse, we rented it and drove it back to the mechanic shop to unload our van into the Jeep. There was not enough room for all of our cargo in the Jeep, so we had to sort through our stuff and leave a bunch of it behind in our van. Finally, about 1:00 p.m., we were back on I-75 to Florida—but had to drive through the storm bands and tornado strewn path of Tropical Storm Cindy all the way to the other side of downtown Atlanta.

        We stopped and over-nighted at the Comfort Suites hotel in Stockbridge, Georgia. If you ever need a really friendly, clean, up-to-date, and well-managed hotel on the south side of Atlanta, this is definitely the place to stay. In a corporate world filled with predators and where it seems like no one can do anything right anymore, this hotel is doing it all right—absolutely superb—and zero bedbugs. We always check the on-line National Bedbug Registry before booking any hotel. Our trip was trouble-free from there onward.

        We were afraid the problem with our van was the transmission. As it turned out, while we were in Florida, our mechanic called to let us know what the problem was. It was not the transmission. That new rear axle part they had installed—the one that syncs with the transmission—had an invisible internal metallurgical defect in it, and a huge piece of metal broke off—rendering the part and the van inoperable. The new part was under warranty and so was the labor. My mechanic shop got their money refunded for the bad part, and just in case, ordered the same part from a different manufacturer. They installed it free of charge, and our van has worked great so far. Best I can recall, that is the first time a new auto part has ever failed immediately after installation on any of our vehicles. However, our mechanic did say that it sometimes happens—rarely—but it does happen.

        Well, that is all I have to say for now Dave. I hope your trip from Wisconsin to Ashland City will be safe and less eventful than our trip to Florida was. Say “Hi” to Patty for us. Let us know how long you plan to be in Tennessee. Maybe we can get together, munch some really good Mexican food, and talk about some of our old Mesoamerican archaeology friends who used to drive into rural Mexican villages at sunset—shooting their guns in the air—and then descended on the local Cantina for a night of hard drinking. You knew the wild and crazy young archaeologists of the early and mid-1970s just as well as I did. I wonder what happened to a lot of those old people we knew. If you are headed toward Oak Ridge this summer, we have a couple of new and really wonderful Mexican restaurants that just opened within the past couple of years. Best to you AMIGO!!!

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