Cultural Narratives

Postcard from Kyrgyzstan
The Western Folklife Center’s Founding Director Hal Cannon and his fellow cowboy musicians give new meaning to the word “horsepower,” as they take to the streets of a tiny Asian village in a spur-of-the-moment advertising campaign for one of their concerts. The group was traveling and performing in Kyrgyzstan as part of a cultural exchange organized by Vista 360 of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

John A. Lomax, impressario and folklorist

Sagebrush to Steppe
The language barrier is bridged with song when American cowboys travel to Mongolia and ride horseback across the Steppe with the nomadic herdsmen of this wide-open country. This trip completed a cultural exchange that began in 2004 when a group of Mongolian herdsmen/musicians performed at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko.

Supaman, Photo: Brook More

Sheep Shearing
We follow a group of New Zealand sheep shearers as they harvest wool from animals that graze the hills and valleys of the world…including the wide open spaces of the American West.

Paralympian Andy Parr with Coach and Guide, David Markey

The Dogs of Argentina
You can tell a lot about a people by their dogs and Argentines are no exception. Just like here in the United States, there are country dogs and city dogs in Argentina and both reflect those humans who love and care for them. In this radio story Hal Cannon compares the dogs of rural Patagonia with those who live in the city of Buenos Aires, and he finds some universal truths about our relationship with man's best friend.

A Tribute to Leslie Norris
Even in his childhood, Leslie Norris was drawn to words. He once rode his bicycle across the Welsh countryside to hear a young Dylan Thomas read poetry in a room above a village bookstore. Norris grew to become a poetic treasure himself, and years later recited at the unveiling of Thomas’ memorial at Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey. Norris eventually moved to this country, becoming a professor and poet-in-residence at Brigham Young University in Utah until his death. His poetry was simple and powerful…inspired by nature and his relationship to it.

Say the word “healthcare” in the town of Nyssa, Oregon and chances are you'll soon hear stories about the healing powers of Eva Castellanos, a curandera or traditional healer and herbalist who is the primary healthcare provider for this community of migrant workers.

Immigrant Ranger, by Taki Telonidis

Immigrant Ranger, by Taki Telonidis

The Immigrant Song
Immigrant Song chronicles the Western Folklife Center’s 2007 project to document Mexican ballads called corridos. Our story reveals that immigration is a recurring theme in many of the new corridos being written and sung by Mexicans living in the American West. In one song, a young man memorializes his father who was killed when trying to cross the Rio Grande River into the United States.

We also meet a high school student whose song describes her sadness when her parents took her from her homeland in Mexico. And we meet Immigrant Ranger, a political activist whose songs have accompanied demonstrations for immigrant rights in Washington. The corrido tradition goes back centuries and corridos have become a vital part of Mexican culture here in America, providing a musical narrative to the immigrant experience.