Chiricahuas Celebrating 100 Years of Freedom and Unity with the Mescalero and Lipan.

When Geronimo along with Naiche and Nana and a small band of Chiricahua Apache warriors surrendered to federal troops in 1886, they numbered about 22 men and 15 women and children.

Nevertheless, the U.S. government rounded up and imprisoned nearly 500 men, women and children all members of the Chiricahua Apache Tribe, according to Mescalero Tribal Administrator Freddie Kaydahzinne.

"The War Department held our people in Florida, Pennsylvania, Alabama and Oklahoma," Kaydahzinne said. "Their kids were taken away from them, and they took them up to Carlisle, Pa., and also a place called Hampton."

He said that in 1913, when the Chiricahua were released, 187 chose to return to the Southwest and 78 stayed in and around Fort Sill, Okla.

"The records will show many of our people died while they were in prison," Kaydahzinne said.

After their release, many came to live with the Mescalero and Lipan Apache on the Mescalero Apache Reservation, according to the Chiricahua Commemoration Committee.

Kaydahzinne said the Chiricahua Apache used to roam from around Silver City into southeastern Arizona and northern Mexico. The overall Apache Tribe called an even larger area home.

The Chiricahua Apache and the Mescalero Apache tribe are holding a two-day celebration Friday and Saturday to mark 100 years of freedom for the Chiricahua people.

"We have many descendants that live on the Mescalero Apache Reservation," Kaydahzinne said. "The descendants come from Cochise, Naiche, Geronimo, Victorio, Mangas Colorado, Juh, Chatto and many other warriors."

The celebration will feature a traditional two-day feast and traditional dances such as the Dance of the Mountain Spirits, Apache War Dancing, a parade and other activities.

Noon and evening meals will be provided to all who attend, according to the commemoration committee.

Committee member Debra Naiche-Martinez said the events in Mescalero will take place at the tribal ceremonial grounds, which will be marked on U.S. Highway 70 on the days of the activities.

The celebration starts with the Chiricahua's celebrating "100" years of freedom and unity with Mescalero- and Lipan-themed parade on April 5, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in Mescalero.

Naiche-Martinez said a prayer begins the day at about 7 a.m. on Friday.

She said dignitaries from various tribes and government agencies will be introduced in the afternoon on Friday, followed by Apache War Dancing.

Kaydahzinne said the Sacred Dance of the Mountain Spirits begins at about 7 p.m. Friday and dinner will be served each day to those in attendance.

Singing during the celebration in addition to dancing, prayers, arts and crafts and traditional foods, are also planned.

The events are open to the public, but the tribe asks that people not photograph the Mountain Spirit Dancing in the evening.

Also planned is a reenactment of the final journey home to Mescalero. When they arrived in New Mexico, the Chiricahua people traveled by buckboard wagons and horseback from the old train depot in Tularosa to Mescalero.

The trek begins at sunrise in Tularosa at First Street and Railroad Avenue on April 6, according to Naiche-Martinez.

"This is in commemoration of the journey that our ancestors made when they were released from prison," according to the commemoration committee.

Apache freedom runners will be making the long journey from Fort Sill, Okla. to commemorate the occasion, Kaydahzinne said.

"Those runners are going to be comprised of members of the Fort Sill Apache tribe, also the Mescalero Apache and other tribes, he said.

Fort Sill Apache Chairman Jeff Haozous said "The Great Parting," as this event has been called, was actually a bittersweet day for many people.

"Families were separated and the Chiricahua Apache tribe suffered a great loss of population when the group left to join the Mescalero Apache tribe, a separate tribe located near our New Mexico homelands," Haozous said. "The tribe actually was not free until 1914, when our people were released from Fort Sill."

Haozous said Fort Sill Apache are recognized as the legal successor to the Chiricahua Apache tribe and have long sought to repatriate to the homelands.

"I am continuing my efforts to make that happen," he said. "Although it's not possible, sometimes I dream about reuniting all of the Chiricahua people as one tribe after we are repatriated."

Haozous said he, along with the tribe's business committee and tribal princess, will attend the celebration.

"I've been invited to speak," he said. "We're looking forward to participating and visiting our relatives at Mescalero."

Haozous said next year the Fort Sill Apaches will hold a celebration commemorating the centennial of the final release of the Chiricahua prisoners of war.

Kaydahzinne, speaking on behalf of Mescalero Tribe President Frederick Chino Sr. said the president welcomes friends and guests to the celebration.

The commemoration of the Chiricahua Apache people's freedom is set to become a yearly event at Mescalero, Kaydahzinne said .

"The Mescalero Apache Tribe wish to declare the first Friday of April every year to be a tribal holiday to honor the release of the Chiricahua," he said.

For more information, contact the Mescalero Tribal Office at 575-464-4494.

Responses to "Chiricahua, Mescaleros set to celebrate 100 years of Chiricahua's autonomy"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations and good luck This sounds like a wonderful celebration.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wish I could come
    I so love the Chiricahua homelands.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I would with all my heart to be there.

  4. Congratulations on your survival! May there be Apaches in these hills for centuries to come.

  5. Anonymous says:

    "Like", and with my greetings and best wishes from France to the Chiricahua friends I made in the States.

  6. cynder915 says:

    I wish I was there to see it all, evening the dancing the good times and the bad times.

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