I was recently honored to celebrate White Mountain Apache Day at historical Fort Apache in North East Arizona. I was given a traditional Camp Dress to wear and joined in the celebration which included cooking Ash bread, storytelling, singing songs, a women’s dress competition, watching Crown Dancers and eating fry bread for the first time. I was also given a beautiful homemade burden basket, which is used for gathering berries and wild foods.
The White Mountain Apache is a proud and powerful group of people who have a lot to teach us in ways of the world and in the ways of nature. Everything has meaning and purpose. Somehow in the west, we have lost our roots and inner connectedness with the land, plants, and animals that share our earth. The White Mountain Apache have never forgotten this.
The day was a celebration of White Mountain Apache tribal life. As the day came to an end, I left with an appreciation for tradition and for people who are holders of ancient ways.
I knew that I was traveling to a remote part of the country, but I didn’t realize how far away I was actually going until I boarded my last flight out of Phoneix on a tiny Pilatus PC-12 aircraft that seats eight passengers maximum, eventually landing on top of the beautiful White Mountains of Arizona.
I was informed that I would be tired as I adjusted to the elevation of over 7000 feet, as my body began to build red blood cells to adjust to the thin atmosphere. Not only was I tired due to the altitude, but I also had to adjust to the time change after having traveled over 2,200 miles, beginning in Eastern Standard Time and ending in Mountain Standard Time.
My week was spent exploring the area, meeting interesting people and hearing their stories, as some travelled through, while others have made their homes amongst the mountains.
Mountain life is different from the mainstream, but if you are seeking a place of raw natural beauty, where the goal of life isn’t commercialism or consumerism, then the White Mountains is a place where you will find happiness through aromatic ponderosa pines, beautiful lakes and rivers, and seeing elk and wild horses roaming the landscape.
My week in the White Mountains gave me a taste of mountain life and a respect for the people who live there. A beautiful place with heart and wild natural soul.