TheApache Indians were initially found in northern areas of Canada. Theylater settled in the American Southwest and Plains states. This groupcall themselves Nide or Inde which actually means “the people”.In addition, the Apache are deeply rooted in intent spiritualpractice where they employ dance and song in communicating with theircreator (Ball, et al 12). They strongly believe that they werecreated by their god, who also created all areas of the naturalsurroundings. Since the religion of Apache community involved variouspractices, it is important to explore for better understanding of thepeople.
TheApache religion has a higher creator called Ussen, and lesser gods.Among the lesser gods are ga`ns who are believed to be mountainprotective spirits. Ussen, the main creator is believed to havecreated the entire Earth and people in four days. This makes four asacred number in this religion, which is mirrored in the fourcardinal instructions, dance, song as well as the spiritual drumbeat. Moreover, these gods are relevant in some religious rights suchas girls’ initiation. Similar to other numerous religions, this onebears a story of creation that involves a flood (Tiller &Veronica, 16). The sacred Apache colors include blue, black, whiteand yellow which have guided them into their prayers. Additionally,the four colors signify the threads Tarantula colors which are usedin pulling and stretching the earth. At the time of creation, thecreator created the gods, earth, heavens, plants, as well as animalsfrom his sweat. The Apache also believe that their ancestors aredirecting forces that live in their midst as element of nature liketrees, rocks, mountains and wind (Bartelt, et al 14). Therefore, theytake care of nature with respect and dignity as a sign of reverencefor their ancestors. The dances are mainly meant for communicatingwith the spirits for their intervention in healing, bringing rain, orwhen celebrating young girls’ puberty.
Furthermore,water is regarded as a powerful force amongst the Apache’straditional beliefs. Traditional teachings emphasized on frequentbathing which helped in washing away any evil spirits (Nevins, 10).Among the rituals and ceremonies of the Apache, there are variousdances including the rain dance, which promotes rainfall. The otheris harvest dance which attracts plenty of harvest and the medicinedance that is quite fascinating. A certain group among the Apache’scalled Jicarilla`s was well known for the medicine dance where thesick would be healed and other miracles would be performed bymedicine men or women (Dressler, Markus & Mandair, 22). Moreover,another crucial religious celebration that Apache cannot ignore isthe crossing over festival for young women of that tribe. TheMescalero apaches hold this celebration after a young female receivesher first monthly period. The festival then takes place for fourconsecutive days bringing the young female into womanhood.
Conclusively,it is obvious that the Apache people possess very rich religiouspractices. Their decisive religious practice demonstrates a communitythat is engulfed in what it believes in. In addition, all thereligious practices and festivals show how the Apache communityesteemed their gods. Regardless of the fact of having various gods,they were classified each according to performance and abilities,making Ussen to be superior. Environmental elements were esteemed aswell like the trees, rocks and wind among others, since Apacheconsidered them as ancestors.
Ball,Eve, Nora Henn, and Lynda Sanchez. Indeh,an Apache Odyssey.Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988. Print.
Tiller,Veronica E. V. Cultureand Customs of the Apache Indians.Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC- CLIO, 2011. Print.
Dressler,Markus, and Arvind-pal S. Mandair. Secularismand Religion-Making.New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Print.
Bartelt,Guillermo, Bärbel Treichel, and Don Decker. DonDecker`s Apache Odyssey: Approaches to Autobiography, Narrative, andthe Developing Self., 2012. Print.
Nevins,M E. Lessonsfrom Fort Apache: Beyond Language Endangerment and Maintenance., 2013. Internet resource.