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The Garcia Brothers

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Peter Garcia
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Biography

As head singer at San Juan Pueblo (now Ohkay Owingeh) for many years, Peter Garcia (1927–2001) continued a tradition that had been in his family for generations: Peter Garciapreserving the pueblo’s age-old songs and dances, composing new ones, and leading the other singers as they provided words and music for dances and ceremony. It was a role Garcia’s brother held before him. The brothers learned the old songs from their father, who learned from his father. “At home, all they would do was sing,” says Peter Garcia, Jr., his son, who is continuing the family’s long practice of preserving and teaching his people’s culture.

Garcia’s influence extended well beyond the pueblo. Over the years he traveled around the country—including to the Smithsonian—and internationally, sharing his knowledge of pueblo life. He made numerous recordings of Tewa songs, many of which are still requested on radio programs devoted to Native music. Closer to home, Garcia sang and recorded songs for Ohkay Owingeh’s schoolchildren. He choreographed and taught drum-led Tewa dances and songs to the people of Pojoaque Pueblo, whose own traditions had been interrupted by invasion and disease that left the pueblo virtually abandoned in the early 1900s. Garcia also formed a dance group with his children and grandchildren, performing at Bandelier National Monument and other sites.

“He was a very passionate individual when it came to our tradition. He believed in it wholeheartedly,” says Garcia, Jr.

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