When it was first released in 1982, When It Rains was one of the earliest published literary works in the O’odham language. Speakers from across generations shared poems that showcased the aesthetic of the written word and aimed to spread interest in reading and writing in O’odham.
The poems capture brief moments of beauty, the loving bond between family members, and a deep appreciation of Tohono O’odham culture and traditions, as well as reverent feelings about the landscape and wildlife native to the Southwest. A motif of rain and water is woven throughout the poetry in When It Rains, tying in the collection’s title to the importance of this life-giving and sustaining resource to the Tohono O’odham people. With the poems in both O’odham and English, the volume serves as an important reminder of the beauty and changeability of the O’odham language.
The themes and experiences expressed by the language educators in this volume capture still-rural community life: children are still bussed for miles to school, and parents still have hours-long daily commutes to work. The Sonoran Desert also remains an important part of daily lifeseasons, rain on desert plants, and sacred mountains serve as important markers.
In a new foreword to the volume, Sun Tracks editor Ofelia Zepeda reflects on how meaningful this volume was when it was first published and its continued importance. “Things have changed but many things remain the same,” writes Zepeda. “The pieces in this collection will be meaningful to many still.”
About the Author
Ofelia Zepeda is a poet, regents’ professor of linguistics at the University of Arizona, and the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship for her work in American Indian language education. She is the current editor of Sun Tracks, which was launched in 1971 and is one of the first publishing programs to focus exclusively on the creative works of Native Americans.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Ofelia Zepeda Acknowledgments
Thoughts Papago and Pima Alphabets Ta?/Sun ELAINE ANTONE S-ke:k ’O’odham Ha-jewedga/The Desert JEANETTE CHICO 'O'odham Mu:sigo/Papago Music KEN HALE Untitled SHIRLEY JAY Ñ-lu’u/My Grandmother MALINDA LEON Hasañ/Saguaro MALINDA LEON Wi’ikam Do’ag/Lonely Mountain DANIEL LOPEZ ’Oks Daha/Lady Sitting Mountain DANIEL LOPEZ Untitled NELLIE MIGUEL Mañ eda al cemaj/When I Was Small NELLIE MIGUEL ’O’odham Ñe’i A:ga/Pima Songs DORA MILES ’Ali/A Baby VIRGINIA MONTANA Ceoj Ñ-we:nag/My Brother VIRGINIA MONTANA Sopol Esabig Masad/August CECEL IA NUÑEZ i g ’an hu ta:tam/Don’t Touch CECELIA NUÑEZ Da:m Ka:cim/Sky CECELIA NUÑEZ Hevel/Wind HENRIETTA PABLO Untitled HENRIETTA PABLO Ha’a/Olla HELEN J. RAMON Ñ-hu’ul/My Grandmother HELEN J. RAMON Tohono/Desert HELEN J. RAMON Toniab/S-he:bijedkam Summer/Winter ARCHIE RAMON ’'Eda Hukkam Masad/Mat o su:d g ma ad Quarter Moon/Full Moon ARCHIE RAMON Hemho Añ Am Him/Once I Walked FLORETTA RHODES Ira/Ira FLORETTA RHODES Tadai/Roadrunner ANGELINA SARAFICIO Ha:sañ/Saguaro Cactus ANGELINA SARAFICIO Ñeñe’i/Songs ANGELINA SARAFICIO Do:da’ag/Mountains ANGELINA SARAFICIO Piast/Chicken Scratch BETTY JANE SHEPPARD Ju:kı/Rain OFELIA ZEPEDA D ’ac ’O’odham/We Are Papago OFELIA ZEPEDA
Afterword by Ken Hale
Readers of poetry and scholars and community members working in Native language preservation.