Apache Puberty Rites: 6 Girls Attain Womanhood
Editor’s Note: Mescalero Apache Vice President Gabe Aguilar welcomed and accommodated ICTMN’s visit to the tribe’s annual puberty rites and was explicit about what could and could not be presented. ICTMN was provided with written rules about what could be photographed and shared with readers. Consequently there are no images of the Big Tipi or Crown Dancers. Readers will have to attend the 2017 rites to experience those wonders for themselves.
Every Independence Day at the Mescalero Apache tribal lands in New Mexico, the public is invited to witness the tribe’s traditional puberty rites, a series of rituals deeply connected to the Apache deity White Painted Lady.
For a nominal entrance fee, the public can join the extended community that gathers around the girls who take on the rites’ rigors, and whose families have the funds to make their dreams come true. “People used to tell me I was strong,” Haley Tsinnijinnie, 13, said. “But deep down I never knew I was; going through with this feast tells me I really am a strong person.”