Robert Tohe is introducing International Uranium Film Festival keynote speaker Wendsler Noise of the San Carlos Apache Nation. We are talking about stopping uranium.
I applaud all of you for your work and you carry a burden home about how to prevent uranium mining. I am Chiricahua Tribe. The most important part of this work is to know who you are. Identity is important. I was told by elders that when you challenge what is bad that that is a challenge and you will be challenged by many people. Currently Council man, prior trouble maker. Warned not to take that dollar because it will take your blessed gifts. At home we have 15 clans. Many bands of Apache were allowed to go home but many had to remain at San Carlos. We have Scout families and those that protect. So being raised traditional, and moving forward with tribe on sacred sites, I turned around and my people were way back there. I stopped and wondered why there was a big gap. I thot that everything that I knew they knew. So it was important for me to step back to my people. Sadly my mother told me who was born in a prison camp, she said there are two cliffs and our people have dropped. You are busy picking them up and more are dropping. But on the other side are young people just being born. Reach out to them. If you want to take wat is old and teach then teach them. I’m glad my mom took me aside when I was being a pooper scooper. Started with about 70 runners and now have more than 700 runners opposing the desecration of our sacred mountain. The journey for me was to defy the U.S., Arizona. WE have people insulting us, threatening us: Go back to your reservation. Remember what we did to Geronimo.
One of the ways to heal is to admit your darkest past and to know your identity because it affects your children. And when I ran for Councilman, I said that I was going to tell the truth. When I told my people that it is time that San Carlos heal, I reminded the people of how our people were used as Scouts but they stood us all together when they put us here on San Carlos, which is why we must unite instead of fighting each over what happened in the past. There is a hole where 300 Apaches were buried. Massive graves of 20 children buried together. Mother said that taking the kids is like taking a wild animal and putting in a pit. My mom hid in the mountains. And we grew up hiding from the white people because of racism. We must teach our children their identity otherwise this battle is lost.
It was a young girl dressed in traditional Apache way that saved our land from copper mining. She spoke before Congress and changed the votes of three Republicans.
My wife told me to talk about myself even though I don’t like to talk about myself. My wife is Navajo from Cameron.
I hardly take invitations but did because of all the work.
“Together we’ll get it done.”
HERE IS A NEWS STORY ABOUT THE WORK OF WENDSLER NOISE SR.
APACHES MAKE HISTORY ATOP DZIL NCHAA SI AN, MOUNT GRAHAM
Hundreds participate in holy ceremony
By Sandra Rambler
San Carlos Apache
SAFFORD, Arizona – The air was crisp with a slight cool breeze and one could hear the drop a pin as hundreds of Apaches and friends gathered in prayer during a holy ceremony which began on July 17 through July 21, atop their holy mountain known to them as “Dzil Nchaa Si An,” also known as Mount Graham, situated in southeastern Arizona, to participate a holy coming of age ceremony for 14-year old, Naelynn Pike, the daughter of Vanessa Nosie and Willie Pike, all members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. Naelynn’s holy initiation ceremony was held in the heart of Dzil Nchaa Si An, where holy ceremonies have been held for centuries.
Naelynn’s dancing parter was Ashlee Craig from the White Mountain Apache Tribe and her Godparents were tribal member, Valerie (Porter) Vavages and husband, Cedrick Vavages, a member of the Tohono O’Odham Nation. The medicine man was Houston (Dory) Hinton and the medicine man for the Apache Mountain Spirit Dancers was Norwyn Wesley. Several medicine men and spiritual leaders that joined them in prayer and songs included Leroy Kenton, Anthony Logan, Louie Lorenzo, Myron Moses, Harrison Bonito, Steve Titla and others.
Tribal spiritual elders also attending in prayer included Gladys Hinton, Dora Hinton, Lenora Robertson, George Starr, Jr., Arthur Longstreet, Adam Rope, Audrey Johnson, Delores Jordan and others.
Tribal leaders present included a Peridot District Councilman and former Tribal Chairman, Wendsler Nosie, Sr., former Tribal Chairwoman, Kathleen (Wesley) Kitcheyan, former Bylas District Councilmembers, Myron Moses and John Wesley and Contractual Tribal Attorney, Steve Titla.
“This is such a special moment for me,” said Dora Hinton, in her native San Carlos Apache language.
“The Godmother, Valerie (Porter) Vavages, is one of my Goddaughters. I am so happy to be here to witness such a historic moment and to be able to watch her carry on an Apache tradition which was passed on to her from me. I am so proud of her and wish her continued success in her life with her family as she gains a new daughter through this holy ceremony,” concluded Dora Hinton, the widow of the late Lee Hinton, Sr., from the Bylas community.
Tribal elder and spiritual leader, Lenora (Starr) Robertson, added, “I am 73 years old. I am the daughter of the late Edith and George Starr, Sr. My paternal grandparents were Hannah (Rope) Starr and Emory Starr. They had lived here in this whole area while the roads were being built up here on our sacred and holy mountain.”
“Our Apache people–the things that we learn were passed down to us by word of mouth. We were told stories about our ancestors. They were not written down because the Apaches did not trust the White Man so they didn’t write down anything because they couldn’t trust them. They took our land and took this sacred and holy Dzil Nchaa Si An away from us.”
“My grandmother, Hannah, she told me that my father, George Starr, Sr., was only 7 years old when he started dancing here on Dzil Nchaa Si An. He became an Apache Mountain Spirit Dancer and during his first dance here, there were no clouds but it started raining and thundering and there was lightening. Everyone was dancing and even the horses were prancing and dancing as well. That’s when he was given the name, “Na’ku’sa” which means Big Dipper.”
“These songs and prayers, it is all part of our Creation story. They will be with us forever. My dad passed away when was 96 years old and lived to be almost a hundred. He was a healthy man but got old in the end. He was hardly ever sick and he was always in prayer. He was an Apache Mountain Spirit Dancer for many years and passed that tradition to the young men in our family.”
“This is the home of our Apache Mountain Spirit Dancers. This is a very holy place. It is so pretty here and pure and clean air surrounds us with the beautiful pine trees. This is a very special moment for all of us here,” concluded Lenora Robertson in her native San Carlos Apache language.
McBride Waterman, the eldest son of the late Ola Cassadore Davis, the late Chairperson of the Apache Survival Coalition and an avid fighter against the telescope project on Mount Graham, pointed out while holding back his tears, “When I came here on Friday (July 19), I was scared. I was thinking that I am not well versed in all of the Apache ways and that being here may require possessing all the knowledge that our medicine men possess.”
“As I ventured from the bottom to the top of our mountain, I couldn’t help but think of my mother all the way and how some of these people that didn’t want the Apaches here at one time may have been scared of her and what she had to say.”
“During the food exchange, Wendsler Nosie, Sr., during his speech at the food exchange, mentioned my mom and I was so touched.”
“My mother was the Godmother to Wendsler’s daughter, Vanessa and now her daughter, Naelynn is having her ceremony here. My mother is here in spirit with us and I want to thank Wendsler for remembering my mom as they placed an eagle feather in her memory where the Apache Mountain Spirit Runners gather the holy water to share with our people.”
“My mother was a very spiritual woman and she was very strict with us. She would always tell me, no matter how old you are, you will always be my baby!”
“I am 72 years old and we just lost her last year in 2012. She’s here in spirit with us, right now and she would have been 90 years old this past January. She fought to keep our Apache traditions and culture alive and to keep the Apache language alive and to teach our children and grandchildren.”
“Our Apache culture is very important to me and I am a proud member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe,” concluded McBride Waterman, as he wiped away his tears.
During the ceremony on Sunday morning (July 21), Holy Ground Medicine Man, Anthony Logan, expressed in his native San Carlos Apache language, “The Apache Mountain Spirit Runners began their journey here on Wednesday (July 17) from the San Carlos Apache Reservation and holy ground songs were sung for them as they ran and carried the sacred staff up the winding road.”
“The Godparents have gained a new addition to their family. Naelynn Pike, she is a runner herself and ever since she was a little girl, she always wanted to have her dance here. We are happy for her and her Godparents. And thank you for being here.”
“This is the home of our Apache Mountain Spirit Dancers, the Ga’an as they have direct contact with our Creator and please continue to pray for all of our Apache people,” concluded Anthony Logan.
Medicine Man, Norwyn Wesley, added, “This is a good dance and I hope you are all enjoying yourselves and the weather. We have just baptized this young Apache girl, Naelynn Pike, into the Apache world. We have been praying for her and her Godparents and pray that they will always have contact with one another as they become family. We ask for blessings for them where ever they go and that they will be prosperous and have humility throughout their lives and I ask everyone here to also pray for them.”
“For 50 years, I have been involved with the Apache Mountain Spirit Dancers, as a dancer and now as their singer. I’m what you might say, the last of the Mohicans. My grandfather, the late Fred Wesley, was a medicine man. We are also losing some of our songs just as we are also losing some of our Apache language and it’s very important that we keep what we know and pass that on to our future generation.”
“A lot of respect has been shown for this dance. It’s an honor. This is a holy time for all of us. What you have learned here, please share it with your family and let’s continue to keep our Apache songs, dances and language forever. Thank you all for being here,” concluded Medicine Man Wesley.
“My grandmother told me that I was born on the bottom of Dzil Nchaa Si An and always said to me, this is your mountain. She is right, this is my mountain. Dzil Nchaa Si An belongs to us, this holy mountain belongs to the Apache people and there’s no question about it,” pointed out 80-year old tribal elder, Gladys Hinton, in her native San Carlos Apache language.
“On behalf of our family, I just wanted to say thank you for all the volunteers, the helpers, the runners, the elders, the Godparents and their family and friends, the Medicine People and spiritual leaders and everyone that came up here with us to help us celebrate our annual Apache Mountain Spirit Run and especially for the coming of age ceremony for my granddaughter, Naelynn Pike,” said Wendsler Nosie, Sr.
Dr. Robin Silver, from the Center for Biological Diversity from Flagstaff, Arizona, added, “History is definitely being made here. The Apaches have proven themselves again by making another mark in their history. They are a fearless people and I admire them for that.”
Friends traveled from all over the Country from such areas as Pennsylvania, North Carolina, California, New Mexico and New York. A runner for the past 11 years joining the Apache Mountain Spirit Runners, Steve Boyd, Professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, said, “It’s great to witness the Apaches coming home to where they belong.”
As the tribal elders prepared to make their trip back to the Apache reservation, Naelynn Pike and her partner, Ashlee Craig came to bid them farewell. Words of encouragement and appreciation were given to Naelynn, the maternal granddaughter of Cindy Nosie and Theresa and Wendsler Nosie, Sr., and the paternal granddaughter of Geraldine and Chuck Pike.
In the early 1990s, the San Carlos Apache Tribal Council passed many resolutions after the hard work of Ola Cassadore Davis with the Apache Survival Coalition and Wendsler Nosie, Sr. and late Ernest Victor, Jr. with the Apaches for Cultural Preservation while advocating against the $200 million dollars telescope project.
In 1988, Congress passed the Arizona-Idaho Conservation Act, which allowed for a special permit to allow the University of Arizona to proceed with the telescope project. The Tribe contemplated they were never informed and that federal violations were made in the Endangered Species Act, the Native American Indian Religious Freedom Act, the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, U.S. Executive Order 13007 and various other laws.
The tribe was joined by the National Congress of American Indians, the National Council of Churches and some international organizations and various large national organizations in their opposition against the telescope project.
On Dec. 22, 2012, the Mount Graham Coalition, the Maricopa Audubon Society and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service for failing to reinitiate the Endangered Species Act consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the Mount Graham Telescope Project, a mountain known to the Apaches as Dzil Nchaa Si An and a holy mountain considered sacred since time immemorial to the San Carlos Apaches.
At the end of the last day following the portion of the ceremony that included the Apache Mountain Spirit Dancers, the rain slowly came down, then poured for a few minutes. The elders, medicine men and the spiritual leaders say it is to, “wipe away the footsteps and trail of the Apache Mountain Spirit Dancers, as they return to the top of their sacred homeland, Dzil Nchaa Si An, Mount Graham, which is a fact and not myth as told by the Apaches themselves. History was indeed made again by the Apaches.