The Gathering of Nations Song; a response by Arlie to a request... 

Date sent: Mon, 23 Feb 1998 00:32:30 -0400 
From: Oliver Dick To: 


     It is by accident that I stumble upon your page. I know you are a very well known singer in regards to our traditional music. I have come across your name many times, mainly on powwow tapes. I really admire your contributions in regards to popularizing and preserving our music through recording. 
     I have been singing now for 13 years and never had the privilege of speaking with well known singers such as yourself. I really admire the singing styles of the west and southwest. I, myself being a swampy Cree, there are not many who have recorded the songs in our language, the ones wo did, did so and I could mot make out what they were saying because it was just a bit different dialect that i could not really understand. 
     I am presently attending university here in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. I am a first year business student and I want to specialize in Marketing. I am also helping the local youth with an interest in drumming. They are eager and still a bit concerned whether or not the drum is a part of their local culture. All I can do is encourage them to learn and sing the songs of all the other languages. Being a lover of the songs, I encourage them and I am willing to learn their local songs. I am here helping because my wife is from this area. She is Maliseet. I am writing to ask you if you could assist me. I like some of the songs that you composed, particularly, the Gathering of Nations Song at Albuquerque, NM. I am interested in learning the words from the one who composed the song. I would like to learn how to pronounce the words and what they mean in the english language. If you would be so kind to interpret them for me. 
     In trying to keep with the traditions I would be inclined to follow the protocol of the your people. If you would be interested in helping us, maybe someday we can meet and we can repay our gratitude. Maybe we can work out some kind of arrangement. I thank you for your time and I know it is by some mysterious force that we meet. I also found your article on authenticity very helpful by the listing you provided. I am presently working on a presentation that is due on Tuesday. My presentation is on Native American Music and the different mediums used to promote our music "how big the market is and why is the promoting so quiet????" 
     In closing, Megwetch, and I hope to hear from you either way. Maybe we can shore some thoughts and ideas, or the traditional teachings of our elders. 

In Friendship, 
Oliver Dick 


Dear Oliver, 

     Thank you for the kind words and I am honored by your request. I will provide the words and translation for the Gathering of Nations Song. This song was composed to honor the wishes of my paternal grandfather, the late Allen Neskahi, Sr., who was a medicine man of my people and was the first peyote Dine'/Navajo roadman, having traveled to Oklahoma in the early 1900's to obtain those rights from the Cheyenne. He later worked for many years with the missionaries and did some interpreting of the Bible into Navajo for them. 
     While interpreting, he noticed how the songs of the Jewish King David sounded like Native prayers, the book of Psalms. He told my father that someday it would be nice to have some of them in our style of singing. When I was approached by the Gathering committee to compose this song, I asked my father, the late Allan Neskahi, Jr., what he thought. He suggested that we create a song based on my grandfather's wishes. We looked through some of the Psalms from the Bible that he had translated and chose this particular one. 
     This song has become one of the most well-known songs in North America, and I am so very honored to have helped it's birth. 

The Gathering of Nations Song 
Click here for the song in Real Audio® format, you need the free player to hear it, download it here

Atah bi ch'i' da-hotaa\, da-hotaa\ ~~~~~ 
Grandfather to Him, sing, sing! 

Sin aniidii, beh, Atah bi-ch'i' 
Song, a new One, Grandfather, to him 

da-hotaa\, ~~~~~ 

Nahoosdzaan nda, 
Earth Mother from, 

hoonees-aan denh di-ne-eh, 
all places, you People 

da-noo\ iinii, taa noltso, 
all of you... 

Atah bi ch'i', da ho taa\ ~~~~~ 
Grandfather to Him, sing! 

Pronunciation key;
~~~ are vocables, no words 
\ - is one of the Dine' sounds, which is an l, with escaping air, place your tongue behind your front teeth and let the air escape from the sides. 

Respectfully, and I hope your singers enjoy this song, 
Arlie Neskahi 

P.S., there is also a Gathering of Nations Round Dance that not too many people know. It is meant to be sung right after this Grand Entry Song.