Apache Religious Ceremonies

Topics: Apache, Mescalero, Chiricahua Pages: 4 (1116 words) Published: December 4, 2013

Apache Religious Ceremonies The Apache Tribe is primarily associated with Spanish Southwest and the states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Apaches believe that a number of supernatural powers associated with natural phenomena’s exist. These powers are neutral with respect to good and evil, but they can be used for various individual purposes. Belief is supported by a mythology that explains the creation of the world and includes several idols. Most important are Life Giver, Changing Woman, a source of eternal youth and life; and her twins, Slayer of Monsters and Child of Water.

Life Giver, Child of the Water, and White Painted Women are forms of religious traditions and rituals. In his intriguing book, An Apache Life-Way, Morris Opler states how Apaches believe they live among supernatural powers (275). Opler also expresses how these powers can be bestowed upon a tribal member or they can seek it on their own. For example, If a man felt that he was having bad luck, he might go out and ask Life Giver to help him. A man might get a ceremony of some kind at such time in answer to his prayer, or he might just be helped out of his present trouble. If he gets a ceremony that will help him right along, that ceremony will come from some other source, like lightning or an animal, and not directly from Life Giver (Opler, 280). This shows how Apaches treat nature with dignity and respect out of respect for their ancestors. This quote also shows how the Apache believe supernatural powers can be used to provide aid and comfort to others or to do something positive for their community. “The most powerful of all spirits, Usen, The Giver Of Life. The Mountain Spirits, Gans, were extremely important in ceremonies. Males dressed up in costumes to appear as the Gans in ceremonial dance, wearing black masks, kilts, head dress, and painted bodies toting wooden swords” (Schroeder). This quote symbolizes how...

Bibliography: Mails, Thomas E. "Religion and Ceremonies." The People Called Apache. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1974. 122-180. Print.
Opler, Morris Edward. An Apache Life-Way; the Economic, Social, and Religious Institutions of the Chiricahua Indians. New York: Cooper Square, 1965. Print.
Schroeder, Albert H. (1974a). "A study of the Apache Indian: Parts 1–3", in American Indian ethnology: Indians of the Southwest. New York: Garland. Print.
Stockel, Henrietta H. "Ceremonies and Celebrations." Women of the Apache Nation: Voices of Truth. Reno: University of Nevada, 1991. 155. Print.
Tiller, Veronica E. Velarde. Culture and Customs of the Apache Indians. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2011. Print.
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