Courtesy White Mountain Apache Tribe

Pow Wow in the Pines to Offer Greetings, Bless Corn Pollen

Lee Allen

Come visit the mountain pine trees in northern Arizona in June, and you’ll receive Dagot’ee (Hello) greetings from the White Mountain Apache tribe as they welcome summertime visitors who will feel the triple-digit temperatures of the lowland desert.

“We believe we come from the Earth and belong to it,” says the tribe’s website.  “Our unique and beautiful home was given to us by our creator, and is rich in resources, wildlife, outdoor recreation, and tradition.”

At the 17th Annual Pow Wow in the Pines, June 7-8, at the Hon-Dah Festival Grounds in Pinetop, Arizona, there will be “a welcome mat for the White Mountain Apache Tribe,” pow wow helper and Hon-Dah Casino employee Sharon Walker told ICTMN. “Unlike other pow wows, we don’t charge an admission fee.”

Dollars do play a part in the event, however, with $39,000 available in prize money -- $9,000 of which goes to the winning members of the drum contest. Last year’s festivities drew 1,200 attendees and nearly 300 participants to the festival grounds and organizers expect more of the same this year.

“Pow wows are important for American Indians to express their cultural heritage and preserve significant traditions,” says WMAT Marketing Director Anne Groebner. “While the dancers are entertaining, and the regalia a feast for the eyes, much more lies beneath the surface as the dances generally represent aspects of Native American spirituality, emotion, history, and traditional society.”

“It’s a time to meet with old friends, make new friends, sing, and dance --- an overall uplifting event,” says co-chair Nikina Whitaker (Cheyenne/Arapahoe) who has been on the pow wow committee for 17 years. “While pow wows are not a traditional, cultural part of the Apache tribe, we’ve kind of brought the event onto the reservation,” she says. 

Ronnie Lupe, 84, a long-time tribal chairman, is scheduled to bless the grounds before the event begins.  As is his tradition, the chairman faces the East and in his Apache language, blesses the festival site, the dancers, and all visitors. Lupe has served the Apache people throughout most of his adult life, the last three decades as tribal chairman, and has offered a lot of traditional corn pollen blessings over the years requesting safety and happiness.

White Mountain Apache Tribal Chairman Ronnie Lupe will again bless the grounds with corn pollen at the 17th annual Pow Wow in the Pines


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