Yet, this is a cat blog - thus I begin with a photo of the Apache kitten, Butter, cousin to the Kracker Cats. Butter lives in Whiteriver, capitol of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, two miles from the dance site at Fort Apache.
The Apache Sunrise Dance. Often, when an Apache girl makes the change into becoming a woman, this special dance is held for her - to help assure that health will accompany her into her journey into womanhood and motherhood.
The main part of the dance lasts for three days, but the preparation takes a year. Followup activities will last another year. At the beginning of this process, the young woman's parents invite another couple to be her Godparents. Her Godmother will dance with her throughout the three days, and all members of the Godfamily have an important part to play.
From here on out, the two families will be as one.
Above is Justine Jones, the young woman, being blessed by the medicine man. At her side is her Godmother, Janet Craig, my sister-in-law, Sunflower's sister.
Here is my lovely Sunflower, dressed in her new blue camp dress, dancing at the Sunrise Dance. Her Aunt Dolly is in green behind her and her sister, Charlene, in purple and blue. If you click on this picture, blow it up and look closely at Sunflower's face, you will see much stress and worry.
At the very moment this picture was taken, my good doctor was removing my shattered shoulder, my humerous, to replace it with a prothesis.
Tryskuit and Nabysko, dancing at the Sunrise Dance. Tryskuit is in the middle, wearing black and brown. Nabysko on the right, dressed in red.
These are the Crown Dancers, their outfits patterned after ancient paintings found on the faces of red rock cliffs at different places on the reservation and elsewhere. They represent helpful and benevolent spirits that reside in the mountains. Justine has been painted with corn pollen.
Justine and my brother-in-law, Emmerson Craig - her Godfather.
Just to reconfirm that this is, in fact, a cat blog, I revert back to the kitten, Butter, held in the arms of Eliot Joplin, one of many of my Apache nephews.
The Crown Dancers.
The Clown is the most powerful of all the Crown Dancers and his cross-predates the introduction of Christianity into Apacheland. I am told that he danced for my grandson Wry for about 15 minutes straight. Wry remained fascinated and entranced throughout.
Of all the regrets I have regarding all that I have missed this summer of my injury, my greatest lament is the fact that I missed these 15 minutes.
Back at the dance. My Mother-in-law, Rose Roosevelt, Matriarch of the family, gives her great-grandson, Wry, a squeeze of the foot.
Prickly Pear, Wry and family matriarch Rose.
Prickly Pear Blossom poses with some prickly pear blossoms, her namesake flower. My daughter-in-law is Navajo.
Wry and his cousin, Gracie. Gracie is from the Navajo side of the family and traveled from Shonto, Navajo Nation, with Prickly Pear's sister and mother.
Glenn Joplin with Butter's parents, Salt and Pepper.
As broken as my heart is that I had to miss all this, I give my deepest thanks to Toast Ed and Prickly Pear Blossom for taking these photos and for sharing them with me - and you.