Exodus commemorated under sunny skies
by Don Decker, YAN News 03/26/19
After the February snow storms that placed a damper on the scheduled remembrance day for the annual Exodus Day, the re-scheduled event on March 23, Saturday was met with great success. The warm weather and bright sunny skies provided the perfect backdrop for the much anticipated reenactment of the long march of February 27, 1875. With Apache singers up front of the marchers, the short symbolic march from the event grounds to the culture center a few blocks to the east brought over 100 marchers. The marchers were met at the culture center by the Exodus runners who had been running a distance of 180 miles from the east side of Globe, Arizona on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. They had been running for 24 hours straight with relief runners at various drop-offs points along the highway. This event was coordinated by Annette Mendez of Clarkdale who gave great praise to the runners in front of the culture center.
Approximately 300 people attended the outdoor commemorative event that was replete with various cultural presentations from various other Indian tribes in Arizona. Each year the Dishchii’bikoh Community School brings a contingent of youth dancers to share their Apache culture during Exodus days. Another dance group from the Whiteriver community were the Diamond Creek Dancers that performed the traditional mountain spirit dance.
From Yavapai-Apache Nation, Troy Kaska led with the the traditional Bird Dance songs as other singers joined him as they sang for the Bird Dancers. The Jones Benally Family Dancers of Navajoland also brought their traditional Navajo songs and dancing. The elder Jones Benally who reached his 90th birthday, still performs the traditional hoop dance and he continues to perform this hoop dance that seems to enthrall the viewers. His son, Clayson also performed the Eagle dance as his father drummed and sang the song. Around the performance arena several arts and crafts booths were set up.
There was also special recognition of tribal officials from other Nations. Some of these visitors included Paul Russell, Vice Chairman of the Ft. McDowell Yavapai community and Tao Etpison, Vice Chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe who brought greetings and salutations from their respective communities.
Chairwoman Jane Russell-Winiecki brought special greetings from the Yavapai-Apache Nation and spoke of the historical significance of Exodus in remembrance of the long march of February 1875 which is still in the memory of the Yavapai-Apache Nation tribal members. Vice Chairman Larry Jackson, Sr. also greeted the visiting public and also gave the blessing of the noon luncheon which was prepared by several community members (and employees) that worked overnight to bring such delightful home cooked food for the public that Saturday.
All photos copyright by Yavapai-Apache Nation