Traditions under the Oaks
San Jose de Tecate: Oct. 25, 2003
By Roy Cook

Auka, with the warmth of the sun in our faces, Roy Robinson, Kumeyaay and me travel south on State highway 94 toward Tecate. We are on a well-traveled route. So many of our major byways are determined from the traditional experiences of Tribal Americans. Just across the international border are many Tribal Americans living under a different political system. We are all Native Americans. It matters little, except to those who are small-minded, if Tribal Americans are from the north and Canada or the south, Mexico or Latin America. Again we are to meet our Nyemii, Wildcat songs teacher Jon Meza Cuero, Tipai. After walking across the border he will transport us to the San Jose de Tecate community. We understand there will be instruction in language and Nyemii, Wildcat singing today. We are there to support the commitment of our teacher and assist as an ad hoc Tipai Border Task Force for the survival of the Tipai language and culture. Roy and I know we haven’t a lot to offer but we recognize the extensive knowledge carried by Jon Cuero. Sometimes a little support can encourage confidence and great things might happen.

We are among the first to arrive and we are greeted by the organizer, Laura Cota Lopez director of Proyecto Paz y Dignidad, A.C.. There are a couple of young men unloading a pick up truck of tables and plastic chairs for the gathering. We give them a hand to make ourselves useful. This is continuing to be a glorious day: bright, warm, totally refreshing, under a spreading oak tree with a steady easterly breeze. The kind of day your thoughts can quickly turn to hammocks and naps. No time for naps but on the subject of hammocks, Cuaxtli, Aztec from the state of Gererro related that in his village the children are taught to assist in the weaving of hammocks. In the conversation it kept occurring to me how closely the degree of separation is in the Tribal world. Especially among travelers on the Red Road of Spirituality. Remarkably, even though we had never met before, we mutually knew dozens of tribal people and had experienced mutual activities. Cuaxtli is a native speaker of Naugua. Jon continued to participate in the conversation and we were all pleased Cuaxtli elected to join with us in singing Nyemii, Wildcat songs. There is a lot of movement going on, cars pulling in and out, people going here and there to pick up other interested participants. Around noon there is a sizeable group of community folks assembled, maybe twenty or more. We need to realize this is all a self-reliant movement, no grants, no public funding, no supporting institution underwriting the efforts. This is just a sincere commitment to do what can be done from a grassroots level to organize and educate.

It is very refreshing to see a recent teaching concept in action. The Tipai community’s Native speaker instructor, Thelma Thing , is applying Total Physical Response, TPR. She had us stand, walk, turn, hop, touch the dirt, touch the oak. Then Jon Cuero sang songs that used the very same words that had been taught immediately before, very exciting. Jon applied a traditional journey from San Jose de Tecate to the USA and the other Tipai villages along the route we had driven earlier that morning. Language instruction and song continued into the afternoon and further Tipai culture instruction is scheduled for the early evening.

This brief overview of the TPR methods in use are from: Chapter 5 of Revitalizing Indigenous Languages, edited by Jon Reyhner, Gina Cantoni, Robert N. St. Clair, and Evangeline Parsons Yazzie (pp. 53-58). Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University.

"Popularized in the 1960s and 70s by James Asher (1977), TPR represented a revolutionary departure from the audio lingual practice of having students repeat the teacher's utterances from the very beginning of their first lesson and whenever new material was introduced later on. Asher recommended that beginners be allowed a silent period in which they learn to recognize a large number of words without being expected to say them. The vocabulary presented at this level usually consists of action verbs and phrases such as "walk," "run," "touch," "point to," "give me," "go back," and the names of concrete items such as "floor," "window," "door," "mouth," "desk," "teddy bear," and "banana." About 150 words are presented in the first five or six weeks, and at least three new terms per lesson can be expected to become part of a learner's active vocabulary during any lesson, even though they may not say them until later.

The teacher begins by uttering a simple command such as "walk to the window," demonstrating or having a helper act out the expected action, and inviting the class to join in. Commands are usually addressed first to the entire class, then to small groups, and finally to individuals. When a few basic verbs and nouns have become familiar, variety is obtained by adding qualifiers such as "fast," "slowly," "big," "little," "red," "white," "my," and "your." Since the students are not required to speak, they are spared the stress of trying to produce unfamiliar sounds and the consequent fear of making mistakes. Stephen Krashen (1981) considers lowering the "affective filter" an important factor in the language acquisition process. Although the teacher is continuously assessing individual progress in order to control the pace of introducing new material, this assessment is unobtrusive and no threatening. A learner who does not understand a particular command can look at others for clues and will be ready to respond appropriately the next time or the one after.

The storytelling strategies of TPR-S utilize the vocabulary taught in the earlier stage by incorporating it into stories that the learners hear, watch, act out, retell, revise, read, write, and rewrite. Subsequent stories introduce additional vocabulary in meaningful contexts. The children are already familiar with stories from other school and preschool experiences, and now they are exposed to this familiar genre as the teacher presents it in a new language with an abundance of gestures, pictures, and other props to facilitate comprehension. After hearing a story, various students act it out together or assume different roles while their peers watch. The teacher may retell the story with slight variations, replacing one character with another, and engaging different students in the acting. Another technique introduces some conversational skills, as the teacher asks short-answer and open-ended questions such as "Is the cat hungry?" "Is the dog big or little?", and "Where does the girl live?" (Marsh, 1996).

Students are not required to memorize the stories; on the contrary, they are encouraged to construct their own variations as they retell them to a partner, a small group, or the entire class, using props such as illustrations, toys, and labels. The ultimate goal is to have students develop original stories and share them with others. A whole range of activities may be included, such as videotaping, drama, creating booklets for children in the lower grades, designing bulletin boards, and so forth. At this point TPR-S has much in common with other effective approaches to reading and writing instruction.

Both TPR and TPR-S are examples of language teaching as an interactive learner-centered process that guides students in understanding and applying information and in conveying messages to others. TPR as well as TPR-S apply Cummins' (1989) interactive pedagogy principle. At first the children interact silently with the teacher and indicate comprehension by executing commands and then by acting out stories. They are active participants long before they are able to verbally communicate with the teacher and with each other.

TPR as well as TPR-S also apply some of Krashen's (1985) most valuable pedagogical principles. The learners' affective filter is kept at a low level by a relaxed classroom atmosphere, where the stress of performing and being judged is kept to a minimum. At the beginning of the storytelling stage, the students' initial response is not oral, but kinesthetic: When they begin to speak, the teacher responds to the content of their messages rather than to their grammatical accuracy. In TPR as well as in TPR-S the teacher provides comprehensible input without using L1; she relies on the learners' preexisting knowledge of the world and uses gestures, actions, pictures, and objects to demonstrate how one can talk about it in another language.

TPR and TPR-S also make abundant use of the pedagogical strategy of scaffolding (Vygotsky, 1986). The teacher or a peer assists the learner during tasks that could not yet be performed without help. The scaffold is removed as soon as it becomes unnecessary; new support is then made available for the next challenge. Cooperative learning can be seen as a particular kind of scaffolding provided within a group where students help each other (Steward, 1995; Tharp & Gallimore, 1988).

TPR is a continuous application of the "scaffolding" strategy (Vygotsky, 1986) with the teacher, and then the class, supporting the learning of a new word by demonstrating its meaning and then withdrawing assistance when it is no longer needed. For example, to teach the word "gato" for "cat" the Spanish teacher may use a toy or a picture; later, the word "gato" becomes part of the scaffolding for teaching modifiers such as "big," "little," "black," or "white."

Many Native children can understand their tribal language because they hear it spoken at home. These children can be very useful during TPR lessons, acting as assistants, demonstrators, and group leaders. There is reason to rejoice over the fact that they can understand their elders and appreciate their teachings and stories, but what will happen a few years from now when the old people are gone and these children are grown up and should carry on the task of culture transmission? If they can understand but not speak the tribal language, how are they going to teach it to the next generation?

This situation is especially serious in the case of languages such as Tipai, Pai, Killiwa, Hopi or Zuni that are spoken only in a particular community, whose members cannot import speakers from other parts of the world, a choice that is available to Hispanics, Chinese, and other groups. It is essential that Native children learn to use their tribal language instead of just understanding it. In some cases, their reluctance to speak may owe not only to the pressures of European-speaking society but also to unreasonable expectations of correctness and accuracy. Children who have suffered ridicule or embarrassment because they mispronounced or misused a word are likely to avoid the risk of further unpleasantness and take refuge in silence. This problem was brought up repeatedly during the First and Second Symposia on Stabilizing Indigenous Languages ( Cantoni, 1996 ), and it was recommended that all attempts to use the home language be encouraged and rewarded but never criticized.

The increasing scarcity of Native-language speakers has assigned the responsibility of Native language instruction to the school, instead of the home or community. When the Native language teacher is almost the only source of Native language input, and the instruction time allocated to Native language teaching is limited, the learners are not to blame for their limited progress in fluency and accuracy.

In addition, Native children face a more severe challenge than English-speaking children who are learning French or Spanish. Research indicates that the extent to which comprehensible input results in grammatical accuracy depends not only on the quantity, quality, and frequency of available input, but on the "linguistic distance" between the learners' L1 and the target L2 (Ringbom, 1987). There is evidence that students learning Spanish through TPR-S made high scores on national grammar tests, but Spanish is an Indo-European language, just like English, whereas Native American languages have grammatical systems unrelated to those of English."

We continue to be encouraged to participate and contribute what we can as an ad-hoc Tipai Border Task Force. We further appreciate the warmth and sincerity of the participants. Thank you, Mehan.
Roy Cook: writer, public relations, speaker
Opata/Osage-Mazopioye Wichasha
WebMaster: Ben Nance

Tradiciones debajo de los Robles
San Jose de Tecate: Octubre 25, 2003
Por Roy Cook

Auka, con el calor del sol en nuestras caras, Roy Robinson, Kumeyaay y mí recorrido del sur en la carretera 94 del estado hacia Tecate. Estamos en una ruta bien-viajada. Tan muchos de nuestros desvíos importantes se determinan de las experiencias tradicionales de americanos tribales. Apenas a través de la frontera internacional están muchos americanos tribales que viven bajo diverso sistema político. Somos todos americanos nativos. Importa poco, excepto a los pequeño-se importen que, si los americanos tribales son del norte y el Canadá o el sur, el México o la América latina. Debemos otra vez resolver nuestro Nyemii, profesor salvaje Jon Meza Cuero, Tipai de las canciones. Después de caminar a través de la frontera él nos transportará a la comunidad de San Jose de Tecate. Entendemos que habrá instrucción en lengua y Nyemii, gato montés que canta hoy. Estamos allí apoyar la comisión de nuestro profesor y asistir como destacamento de fuerzas de la frontera hoc de Tipai del anuncio para la supervivencia de la lengua y de la cultura de Tipai. Roy y yo sabemos que tenemos mucho no ofrecer pero reconocemos el conocimiento extenso llevados por Jon Cuero. Un poco ayuda puede animar a veces confianza y las grandes cosas pudieron suceder. Estamos entre el primer a llegar y el organizador, director nos saludamos de Laura Cota Lopez de Proyecto Paz y Dignidad, A.C.. Hay pares de los hombres jóvenes que descargan una selección encima del carro de tablas y de sillas del plástico para la reunión. Les damos una mano para hacernos útiles. Éste está continuando siendo un día glorioso: brillante, caliente, totalmente restaurando, debajo de un árbol del roble que se separa con una brisa easterly constante. La clase de día que sus pensamientos pueden dar vuelta rápidamente a las hamacas y a las siestas. Ninguna hora para las siestas pero a propósito de las hamacas, Cuaxtli, aztec del estado de Gererro relacionado que a su aldea enseñan los niños a asistir a tejer de hamacas. En la sconversación guardó el ocurrir a mí cómo el grado de la eparación está de cerca en el mundo tribal. Especialmente entre viajeros en el camino rojo de la espiritualidad. Notable, aunque nunca habíamos satisfecho antes, conocíamos mutuamente a docenas de gente tribal y habíamos experimentado actividades mutuas. Cuaxtli es un nativo de Naugua. Jon continuó participando en la conversación y éramos todos Cuaxtli satisfecho elegidos para ensamblar con nosotros en cantar Nyemii, canciones salvajes. Hay muchos de movimiento que se encienden, de coches que sacan adentro y, de gente que va aquí y allí tomar a otros participantes interesados. Alrededor del mediodía hay un grupo importante de gente de la comunidad montada, quizá veinte o más. Necesitamos realizar que éste sea todo el un movimiento independiente, ningunas concesiones, ningún financiamiento público, ninguna institución de soporte que subscribe los esfuerzos. Esto es justo una comisión sincera para hacer qué se puede hacer de los pueblos llano a organizar y a educar. Muy está restaurando para ver un concepto de enseñanza reciente en la acción.

La instructora nativo de la comunidad de Tipai, Thelma Thing , está aplicando la respuesta física total, TPR. Ella hizo que estuviéramos parados, caminar, dar vuelta, saltar, toca la suciedad, toca el roble. Entonces Jon Cuero cantó las canciones que utilizaron muy las mismas palabras inmediatamente antes de las cuales había sido enseñado, muy emocionantes. Jon aplicó un viaje tradicional de San Jose de Tecate a los E.E.U.U. y a las otras aldeas de Tipai a lo largo de la ruta que habíamos conducido anterior esa mañana. La instrucción y la canción de la lengua continuadas en la tarde y la instrucción posterior de la cultura de Tipai programa para la tarde temprana.

Continuamos ser alentado a participar y contribuir lo que podemos como un anuncio éste Tipai la Fuerza Contigua de la Tarea. Apreciamos aún más el calor y la sinceridad de los participantes. Gracias, Mehan.


Asher, J. J. (1977). Learning another language through actions: The complete teacher's guidebook. Los Gatos, CA: Sky Oaks.

Ausubel, D. P. (1968). Cognitive structure and the facilitation of meaningful verbal learning. Journal of Teacher Education, 14, 73-94.

Chapter 5 of Revitalizing Indigenous Languages, edited by Jon Reyhner, Gina Cantoni, Robert N. St. Clair, and Evangeline Parsons Yazzie (pp. 53-58). Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University.

Cantoni, G. P. (Ed.). (1996). Stabilizing indigenous languages . Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University.

Cummins, J. (1989). Language and literacy acquisition in bilingual contexts. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 10(1), 17-31.

Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1986). Learning together and alone: Cooperation, competition and individualization (2nd ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Krashen, S. D. (1981). Second language acquisition and second language learning. Oxford: Pergamon.

Krashen, S. D. (1985). The input hypothesis: Issues and implications. New York: Longman.

Marsh, V. (1996). ¡Cuéntame!: TPR Storytelling: Teacher's manual. Scottsdale, AZ: C.W. Publishing.

Marsh, V. (1997). Personal communication.

Ray, B., & Seely, C. (1997). Fluency through TPR Storytelling. Berkeley, CA: Command Performance Language Institute.

San Jose de Tecate: Traditions Under the Oaks
By Roy Cook

Auka. September 20, 2003, is a misty, foggy Southern California morning. Another opportunity beckons us to sing Nyemii Wildcat songs with our teacher Jon Meza Cuero. We are going to meet him in Tecate and shuttle over to San Jose de Tecate. As we, Ben Nance and myself, drive further south from San Diego, CA we crest small hills and drop down into swirling mist and vapor. There is an enveloping feeling of movement and travel back into history. Constant vistas of the Wildcat song cycle and the journey described in the song are all around us. We have been looking forward to this trip for some years. We are invited to attend as support singers and be a part of the gathering. This gathering is held at San Jose de Tecate. General directions to the gathering are: from San Diego, take Highway 94 east to Highway 188 south to Tecate, then cross into Baja and Tecate, Mexico then go east out of town, towards Mexicali on Highway 2.

Realizations of responsibility and unmet expectations have brought the Kumeyaay Elders together this beautiful day, Saturday 20, 2003, at 10:00 AM, in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico. There have been many attempts and disappointments in the past three hundred years of European and domestic colonialism. Today is a new day and all feel it may be the hopeful start to a more positive profile and increased self esteem in many sectors: Cultural, Language, Arts, and most significantly restoration of traditional cultural sovereignty amongst the Tribal Kumeyaay in Baja and the Kumeyaay of San Diego and Imperial Co.

Geographically, Tecate peak is due west of the San Jose community and Tecate, Mexico. This mountaintop is known in Tipai as Kuchamaa or "exalted high place." In 1992, it was named to the USA National Register of Historic Places. It is not the geography but the Tipai people that have brought us to this gathering. Many have long felt that something must be done to generate a new awareness of the Tipai culture, language, education, water rights and Indian cemeteries. The Tribal people come together in a traditional way and represent their cultural heritage. Native speakers of Tipai speak their tribal language as they have for millenniums. It is evident that the traditional songs that are sung on this special occasion fulfill the community’s expectations. Realizations of responsibility and unmet expectations have brought the Kumeyaay Elders together this beautiful day in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico.

There have been many attempts and disappointments in the past three hundred years of European and domestic colonialism. Today is a new day and all feel it may be the hopeful start to a more positive Tribal profile and increased self esteem in many sectors: Cultural, Language, Arts, and most significantly restoration of traditional cultural sovereignty amongst the Tribal Kumeyaay in Baja and the Kumeyaay of San Diego and Imperial Co.

Sitting here, under a large oak, listening to the Tipai language spoken as the original American language of the First Americans, brings back memories of other meetings under oaks on the Santa Ysabel reservation.
Lessons learned at the side of my childhood mentor, Steve Ponchetti, reemerge when in traditional surroundings. This Tribal oral history is the responsibility and heritage of the Kumeyaay Elders, tribal wisdom keepers. These elders recognize that the hope of there tribal future is in the future generations. The Kumeyaay Elders hold the heritage alive in the oral tradition and the songs and ceremonies that define this International Culture. In attendance are: Julia Meza Thing, cousin to Jane Dumas, Guadalupe Osuna, daughter of Delfina Cuero, Maria de Jesus Meza Thing, sister of Julia Meza Thing, Maria Francisca Meza Thing, sister of Julia Meza Thing, Maria Elena Meza Lopez, daughter of Maria Francisca, Josefina Lopez, chairperson of Pena Blanca and Juan Carrancio, traditional singer, Laura Cota Lopez, grand daughter of Maria Francisca, director of Proyecto Paz y Dignidad, A.C.

Peace & Dignity Project's sister organization in Mexico, Proyecto Paz y Dignidad, is assisting the San Jose de Tecate community in organizing resources for the preservation and survival of Kumeyaay cultural and spiritual traditions. We look forward to our next gathering on October 25, 2003 and more Niemii singing!
Roy Cook: writer, public relations, speaker
Opata/Osage-Mazopioye Wichasha
WebMaster: Ben Nance

San Jose de Tecate: Tradiciones Debajo de los Robles
de Roy Cook

Auka. 20 de septiembre de 2003, es una mañana meridional misty, brumosa de California. Otra oportunidad nos hace señas para cantar a Nyemii canciones gato con nuestro profesor Jon Meza Cuero. Vamos a resolver lo en Tecate y la lanzadera encima a San Jose de Tecate. Como nosotros, Ben Nance y mismo, sur adicional de San Diego, CA de la impulsión nosotros crest las colinas pequeñas y gota abajo en la niebla y el vapor que remolinan. Hay una sensación de la envoltura del movimiento y del recorrido nuevamente dentro de historia. Los vistas constantes del ciclo gato de la canción y del viaje descritos en la canción están todo alrededor de nosotros. Hemos estado mirando adelante a este viaje por algunos años. A nos invitan que atendamos como cantantes de la ayuda y seamos una parte de la reunión. Esta reunión se lleva a cabo en San Jose de Tecate.

Geográficamente, el pico de Tecate está derecho al oeste de la comunidad y del Tecate, México del San Jose. Este mountaintop se conoce en Tipai como Kuchamaa o "exalted el alto lugar." En 1992, fue nombrado al registro nacional de los E.E.U.U. de lugares históricos. Es no el geografía sino la gente de Tipai que nos ha traído a esta reunión. Muchos tienen fieltro largo que algo se deba hacer para generar un nuevo conocimiento de la cultura de Tipai, de la lengua, de la educación, de las derechas del agua y de los cementerios indios. La gente tribal viene junta de una manera tradicional y representa su patrimonio cultural. Los nativos de Tipai hablan su lengua tribal como tienen por milenios. Es evidente que las canciones tradicionales que se cantan en esta ocasión especial satisfacen las expectativas de la comunidad.

Las realizaciones de las expectativas de la responsabilidad y del unmet han traído a ancianos de Kumeyaay juntas este día hermoso en Tecate, Baja California, México. Ha habido muchas tentativas y decepciones en los últimos trescientos años del colonialismo europeo y doméstico. Hoy es un nuevo día y toda la sensación que puede ser el comienzo esperanzado a un perfil tribal más positivo y a una estima creciente del uno mismo en muchos sectores: Cultural, lengua, artes, y lo más perceptiblemente posible restauración de la soberanía cultural tradicional entre el Kumeyaay tribal en Baja y el Kumeyaay de San Diego y del Co imperial. Las direcciones generales a la reunión son: de San Diego, la carretera 94 de la toma del este a la carretera 188 del sur a Tecate, entonces se cruza en Baja y Tecate, México entonces va al este de ciudad, hacia Mexicali en la carretera 2.

El sentarse aquí, debajo de un roble grande, escuchando la lengua de Tipai hablada como la lengua americana original de los primeros americanos, trae detrás memorias de otras reuniones debajo de robles en la reservación de Santa Ysabel. Las lecciones aprendieron en el lado de mi mentor de la niñez, Steve Ponchetti, reemerge cuando en alrededores tradicionales. Esta historia oral tribal es la responsabilidad y la herencia de las ancianos de Kumeyaay, encargados tribales de la sabiduría. Estas ancianos reconocen que la esperanza del futuro allí tribal está en las generaciones futuras.

Las ancianos de Kumeyaay llevan a cabo la herencia viva en la tradición oral y las canciones y las ceremonias que definen esta cultura internacional. En la atención esté: Cosa de Julia Meza, primo a Jane Dumas, Guadalupe Osuna, hija de Delfina Cuero, cosa de Maria de Jesús Meza, hermana de la cosa de Julia Meza, cosa de Maria Francisca Meza, hermana de la cosa de Julia Meza, Maria Elena Meza Lopez, hija de Maria Francisca, Josefina Lopez, presidente de Pena Blanca y de Juan Carrancio, cantante tradicional, Laura Cota Lopez, hija magnífica de Maria Francisca, director de Proyecto Paz y Dignidad, CA.

La organización de la hermana del proyecto de la paz y de la dignidad en México, Proyecto Paz y Dignidad, está asistiendo a la comunidad de San Jose de Tecate en los recursos de organización para la preservación y la supervivencia de las tradiciones culturales y espirituales de Kumeyaay. ¡Miramos adelante a nuestra reunión siguiente de Octubre el 25, el 2003 y más cantar de Niemii!