Experience the Grand Canyon anew through “Ongtupqa”

Ongtupqa–Hopi music and cultural connections to the Grand Canyon, coming to SaddleBrooke in November. Photo by Michael Remke.

Karen Schickedanz

Ongtupqa. The word is mysterious. It translates from the Hopi language as “Salt Canyon,” and it’s their name for the Grand Canyon, the tribe’s spiritual homeland.

As Arizona residents, you probably have visited the Grand Canyon—perhaps more than once. But you’re invited to see it in a different and deeper way through “Ongtupqa,” an evening of narration, music and visual art coming this fall to SaddleBrooke.

Highlighting the evening will be excerpts from a DVD, to be released next month, that was recorded inside the Grand Canyon’s famed architectural landmark, the Desert View Watchtower. The DVD features songs and an interview with Clark Tenakhongva, a renowned Hopi vocalist, about the tribe’s history, culture and spiritual connection to the canyon.

Accompanying Tenakhongva’s singing on the DVD, as well as on a new CD, are Gary Stroutsos, a master flute player and Matthew Nelson, an ethnomusicologist who drums on clay pots. Both Stroutsos and Nelson will appear in person at the November 7 “Ongtupqa” program in SaddleBrooke. During the live narration and musical presentation, breathtaking photographic panoramas of the Grand Canyon will be shown on the large screen at the MountainView Clubhouse.

“My only hope is the music will resonate with the world,” Tenakhongva says. “As Hopi, we were born within the Grand Canyon and when we are done, we return back there. These are songs about that special place.”

Tenakhongva acknowledges, however, that many Hopi are starting to forget their heritage and have lost their connection to nature. It is his hope that the Ongtupqa recording will not only be educational and entertaining for a wide audience but also will provide the basis for instructing Hopi children about their roots. A portion of DVD, CD and ticket sales will directly support traditional music, language and cultural programs for youth on the Hopi mesas in Arizona.

Ongtupqa will be presented at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 7 in the MountainView Ballroom. Tickets are on sale at the MountainView Administrative Office and also online at https://tickets.saddlebrooketwo.com. Ticket price is $12 per person before September 30 and $15 afterward.

You may learn more about Ongtupqa and hear sample songs at www.ongtupqa.com.