Pokey Park

La Bamba (5/39)
22 x 12 x 13 in
One of the animals with a Southwest influence (replaces the goat) in the Zodiac Totem. This is a Navajo-Churro Ram dancing "La Bamba".The song states: "In order to dance the Bamba, one must posses a bit of grace." Navajo-Churro sheep descended from the Churra, an ancient Iberian breed, prized by the Spanish for hardiness, adaptability and fecundity and was the very first breed of domesticated sheep in the New World. Some rams have four fully developed horns, a trait shared by few other breeds of the world. Its importation to New Spain by the Spanish dates back to the 16th century where it was used to feed and clothe the armies of the conquistadors and Spanish settlers.By the 17th century the Churro had become the mainstay of Spanish ranches and villages along the upper Rio Grande Valley. Native Indians acquired flocks of Churro for food and fiber through raids and trading. Within a century, herding and weaving had become a major economic asset for the Navajo. It was from Churro wool that the early Rio Grande, Pueblo, and Navajo textiles were woven. By 1789, Spanish controlled the export of ewes from the provinces of New Mexico to maintain breeding stock. In 1850's thousands of Churro were trailed west to supply the California Gold Rush. Most of the remaining Churro on Hispanic ranches were crossed with fine wool rams to supply the demand of garment wool caused by the increased population and the Civil War. Concurrently, in 1863, the U.S. Army decimated the Navajo flocks in retribution for continued Indian depredations. In the 1900's further "improvements" and stock reductions were imposed by U.S. agencies upon the Navajo flocks. True survivors were to be found only in isolated villages in Northern New Mexico and in remote canyons of the Navajo Indian Reservation. In the 1970's several individuals began acquiring Churro phenotypes with the purpose of preserving the breed and revitalizing Navajo and Hispanic flocks. Several flocks have developed, and the Navajo Sheep Project has introduced cooperative breeding programs in some Navajo and Hispanic flocks. "La Bamba" is a folk song whose origins can be traced to the Mexican state of Veracruz over 300 years ago. It is influenced by Spanish flamenco and Afro-Mexican rhythms. The traditional aspect of "La Bamba" lies in the tune itself. The traditional "La Bamba" was often played during weddings in Veracruz, where the bride and groom performed the accompanying dance. The dance displays the newlywed couple's unity through the performance of complicated, delicate steps in unison as well as through creation of a bow from a liston, a long red ribbon, using only their feet. The "arriba" (literally "up") part of the song suggests the nature of the dance, in which the footwork, called "zapateado", is done faster and faster as the music tempo accelerates. The repeated lyric, "Yo no soy marinero, soy capitan" (lit: "I am not a sailor, I am a captain"), refers to Veracruz's marine locale and the husband's promise that he will remain faithful to his wife.

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