Hello my beloved readers (which is probably about two people lol jk) I’m back from another world wind adventure! This time I traveled to Arizona. I went to visit my friend Bronte Riley who I met during my 10 months with AmeriCorps NCCC in 2011. She was on my team with 10 other people and has become one of my very best friends. She is White Mountain Apache and lives on the Fort Apache Reservation which is north of Phoenix. This was my first trip to Arizona and it was a beautiful. During most of my trip I was fortune to stay on the Reservation and visit Phoenix for a couple days.
The White Mountain Apache tribe is home to 15,000 members with a rich culture and are the largest community in Whiteriver. The Apache or N’dee people were put onto the white mountains by the creator and are the western most tribe of the Apache people. They live on the Fort Apache reservation and are closely related to the San Carlos, Payson, and Camp Verde. Pre-European contact the Apache were farmers who grew sunflowers, corn, beans, squash and other crops. I was fortune to be able to visit the Fort Apache museum where the cabins and living quarters that the men set up are still standing. Now of course this army camp is interesting it is also very sad when you think of it because it is where many white soldiers and some Buffalo Soldiers came and were on a man hunt to capture and kill any Apache people they saw. After this of course the soldiers had a change of hart and they set up Fort Apche which at the time was Camp Apache which was very helpful to the Apache as they got to stay on there ancestral land on their reservation. Now they use the living quarters as girl and boy dorms for the high school named after president Roosevelt. On the reservation they have many different high school and some of them are faith based schools. Those in the tribe who do not practice their traditional spirituality as their ancestors did they practice Christianity like Bronte’s family who are Lutherans.
Those that do practice their tradition in the tribe participate in Sunrise Dances (women) and Crown Dances (men). The Sunrise Dance for most girls is their change into womanhood. The Na”ii’ees (Sunrise) is a four day communal ceremony that through song, dance and prayer they are met by the spirit of the White Panted Women and embrace their role as Apache women. During the four days they dance and sing as well as run in the direction of the four directions and receive gifts and blessings on their journey. For men they have a different dance called the Crown Dance. The Crown Dance is a masked dance in which the participants impersonate deities of the mountains—specifically the Gans, or mountain spirits.
During this trip I came to see my good friend and relax and take a vacation and I told myself I wouldn’t look at anything from a social justice point of view but you know me lol 😉 Now on the reservation they have one store called Bashes which is the place where most people go to buy groceries if they can’t afford to drive an hour to the nearest town to buy food. They have bad produce and its not located in the safest area of the rez. Another thing is to get to Walmart and Safeway you have to drive about 45 mins from the rez to the Sho Low which is where all the stores and small local restaurants are. A lot of the people in the town are old white people who are very uppity and kind of racist towards the Natives who come up there to shop. I also learned that Phoenix is taking the Apache’s water from the mountains and building a man made lake because they are running out of water. So the Apaches made them sign papers to be able to take the water but are not very happy about it.
Another thing I was fortune to be able to do while I was here was help with the cooking and tasting of the traditional reservation Native food like frybread, flour tortillas, acorn soup and an Apache burger. I also visited a Zuni/Hopi ruin (which were the pre-Apache people to inhabit this land) and I learned that these people where the “little people” who were as big as me (which is only 4’9 lol).
Some fun things I did while in Arizona where seeing Guardians of the Galaxy (I am Groot!), TMNT & The 100 Foot Wall, going to the Phoenix zoo, checking out the fish hatchery on the rez and going up to Sunrise Ski Resort and going up on the ski lift where I could see all the mountains and the reservation really well. My brave friend Bronte went up on this high lift where she jumped off onto a big balloon trampoline. That was a lot of fun to watch.
Over all I had an awesome trip to Arizona getting to see my friend I haven’t seen in 4 years and getting to meet her family and see where she lives and her amazing culture. I can’t wait till she gets to come my way and see where I live and meet my family.
Tell next time please enjoy picture and if you would like to see more or watch some of my videos from my trip please check out my facebook page 🙂
Live Long and Get Down, Get Funky & Get Loose!