Serrano Bighorn Sheep songs
The Paa’chucham are a series of songs telling the ancient Serrano Bighorn sheep creation story. Before each Bighorn hunt, the Serrano — the native people of the San Bernardino Mountains — would ceremoniously sing the Paa’chucham. The singer would dance with a built-in rattle of bighorn sheep hoofs attached to his leg, thanking and honoring the Bighorn sheep for sustaining their people, as well as calling them in for the hunt.
The Paa’chucham are the only remaining song genre unique to the Serrano Indians. Ernest Siva (Cahuilla/Serrano) is the last living Paa’chucham singer. Ernest grew up on Morongo Indian Reservation, Banning, California, and learned the Serrano language and culture at home. Ernest learned the Bighorn Sheep songs from a distant cousin, Llyod Marcus, and a 1970’s recording of Llyod singing the last 12 Bighorn Sheep songs are still the basis of Ernest’s learning and teaching the Paa’chucham today.
Ernest earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music education and choral music from the University of Southern California. He is the founder and president of the Dorothy Ramon Learning Center in Banning, California, which he created to save and share Southern California’s distinct American Indian cultures, languages, history, music, and other traditional arts.
In 2008, Ernest was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program, conducting an apprenticeship in the Paa’chucham with his grand-nephew and apprentice Isaac Horsman Rodriguez.