Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Sunrise Dance

Here on the White Mountain Apache reservation the traditions of the old days are scarce, yet a few staples of the traditional society and religion still remain. One of these staples is the Sunrise Dance. This is an intricate ceremony for a girl when she matures and becomes a woman. The ceremony takes a week of preparation as the family camps out, cooks a lot of food, and prepares all of the special pieces for the actual dance. This week I have had the opportunity to be involved with a Sunrise Dance, a special chance to see what the tradition is all about and learn about this cultural activity. The Sunrise Dance is actually debated as to whether or not it is beneficial, but whatever my beliefs are on it, it is still an awesome chance to be involved since, lets face it, I am a tall white girl.

So yesterday I went with my Apache family down to the campsite to help out, seeing as it is a relative of the family having the dance and all extended family are expected to contribute. (Here I got to pretend I was a part of the family, maybe the adopted sister or something. I think I fit in rather nicely!) There the family had built these shelters out of wood, leaves, and yucca plant. They were awesome! They kind of look like wigwams but more temporary and leafy. The extended family will sleep out there all week as they prepare for the dance. Not my idea of fun as we all know I hate camping, but super cool all the same. They have built a small shelter where they store all of the food stuffs and gifts for the dancer and the girl has many responsibilities, including making fry bread for all of us that showed up at the campsite for dinner! It was cool to see all of her special outfits for the dance and learn more about the traditions and protocol for the week. Today we will go back in order to help prepare food for the great food exchange tonight. Basically that means a big feast where the two camps come together and eat. Sounds like my kind of event!

I will post more about the Sunrise Dance as the week goes on. It has been so nice to be a part of something from the traditional culture and learn more about this part of being an Apache. I am also going to meet with all of my girls I took on the retreat a few weeks ago today. School starts on Thursday and I want to catch up with them and encourage them before they go back. Pray that the conversation goes well!

Two weeks from today my time here is done. Where did the time go? 

1 comment:

  1. I must say I would really like a cowgirl hat with a tiara that fits on it. Add a tutu and .... perfection! I am sure it is hard for Christians to decide how to mesh their faith with the traditional practices. I am so thankful that you have such a lovely family to share your summer with. mom