The drive to Whiteriver, AZ from downtown Phoenix takes about 3 hours. On the way, you pass the mysterious Superstition Mountains, the mining towns of Apache Junction, Superior, Miami, and Globe, then head north through the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, down to the bottom of the Salt River Canyon, and up to the White Mountain Apache Reservation. It’s some trip!
Upon arrival, we were greeted by Ramon Riley, the Cultural Resource Director. He shared Apache history and how the tribe continues today. He then honored us by allowing our group to experience a few young student Crown Dancers, dancing and drumming under the oversight of a young Medicine Man, their mentor. These young teens may some day be future healers within their community.
Following a picnic lunch, we toured the wonderful White Mountain Apache Cultural Center which shares their culture with beautiful visual displays. Several artisans brought lovely pieces to sell and educate. I, of course, had to buy a beaded necklace from a young Apache woman named Jan Johle.
Our group enjoyed a slow-paced guided walk by our host, through the grounds and historic buildings of Fort Apache including the Indian Boarding School, still in operation (since 1923). The Army post itself operated from 1870-1922.
It was a beautiful Arizona day. Thank you White Mountain Apache Tribe! For more information visit http://www.wmat.nsn.us/