Reaching Puberty in Apache Tribe

Category: Culture
Date added
2021/05/27
Pages:  3
Words:  1011
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“In Native American culture, the journey into womanhood, or coming of age period, is extremely sacred and honored through a special ceremony/ritual. Having said that, in the Native American Apache tribe, the na’ii’ees, or Sunrise ceremony, is a coming of age ritual that occurs when a young girl has reached puberty, indicating she is mentally and physically ready to embark on the difficult journey of womanhood. In the video, Girl’s Rite of Passage, the Mescalero Apache Tribe allowed rare access to the sacred na’ii’ees ceremony to allow for a better understanding of the significance womanhood has in their culture. With that being said, the ceremony revitalizes the Apache creation story, which commences as the sacred tipi is built and the morning star rises throughout the ceremony. The young girl must perform sacred dances, songs, and prayer; but most importantly, she will “pass through the ancient test of endurance, strength, and character” to better prepare her for the trials and tribulations of womanhood. During the four day and four night ritual, which represents the four sacred mountains and the four stages of life, the young girl is tested through hardship as she goes on a journey through infancy, childhood, adolescence, and eventually, womanhood. After the four days, with the blessing of her medicine woman and an Apache name given by the tribe’s medicine man, the rite of passage is complete and the young girl and her community celebrates her new found womanhood.

During the four day ritual, the Apache tribe makes a great effort to maintain the tradition that has been passed down for generations in which the language used during the ceremony was developed decades ago and still maintains conventionality. Having said that, the elders require the young girl to learn the Apache language before partaking in the ceremony in order to continue the tradition that is becoming extinct. Moreover, in the video Inside an Apache Rite of Passage Into Womanhood, the Native language is shown/stated in which the men and women use the Native Apache language to preserve the tradition and culture of their clan. For example, “Baa’guu talguu naa’dii’gashguu hish’kaa’” means dancing all night long and is utilized by the members of the tribe during the ritual itself. By using the language of their ancestors, the ritual is considered more sacred and demonstrates the pride of being an Apache member.

Even though the ceremony is solely focused on the young girl and her journey into womanhood, the girls kin plays a significant role in organizing and preparing for the sacred ritual. That said, the family is solely responsible for providing the food for the guests of the ceremony, buying gifts for those that help organize and attend the event, and the materials needed in order to keep the tradition alive. The purpose of young girls kin is to plan the ceremony for the girl and the community but to also decide who will be heavily involved in the young girls journey. Moreover, the mother and families most important task before the ritual is deciding who will become the young girls medicine woman, or in other words, godmother. For example, the video Apache Womanhood, exemplifies the medicine woman’s immense amount of responsibility and set expectations. Before the ceremony, the medicine woman is required to bless the young girl in order for her to participate in the ceremony and will also be the only one to serve her the materials/support needed to complete the rite of passage. Most importantly, the medicine woman must teach the young girl the ways of a traditional Apache woman in which she is expected to mold her into becoming the best woman she can possibly be.

With that being said, the women and men of the Apache tribe specifically follow the gender roles that have been practiced/prescribed for many generations. In the video Inside an Apache Rite of Passage Into Womanhood, the young girl and her family explain the certain role she and the community must take on as she begins her journey into womanhood. Before the ceremony commences, it is the men’s responsibility to build the tipi needed for the ceremony, but more importantly, it is the medicine man’s responsibility/honor to give the new woman her sacred Apache name. On the other hand, the women of the Apache tribe are viewed as a healer, in which the grandmother must teach her the traditional healing practices of certain plants. Women of the Apache tribe must be the healers because the men are required to protect the women and go to war if needed. Having said that, when the men are away, it is the woman’s responsibility to take care of the tribe and must heal the sick and wounded. As a healer, a woman must know how to use the plants, know where they come from, but most importantly, know how to use the plants to heal the men of the tribe. Even though the men are expected to carry the strength needed to protect the tribe, it is the women who are viewed as the most sacred and are expected to continue the sacred traditions/rituals of the tribe. Moreover, becoming an Apache woman means that, “she must know how take care of her tribal family and pass down the tradition she has learned from her mother, grandmother, and godmother.”

Furthermore, the na’ii’ees ceremony is a significant rite of passage to the Apache tribe in order to continue and preserve the tradition/culture. Not only is the ceremony one of the most important times of the young woman’s life, the ceremony unites/guides the tribe as a whole. The sacred ceremony will keep the young woman strong for the rest of her life, but more importantly, it will keep her tribe strong and united for years. As the young woman completes the rite of passage, she will be a representation of the tribe and will be expected to keep the tradition alive and important.”

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Reaching Puberty in Apache Tribe. (2021, May 27). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/reaching-puberty-in-apache-tribe/

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