Apache Female Puberty Quotes
The Sunrise Ceremony

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I come to White Painted Woman,
By means of long life I come to her.
I come to her by means of her blessing.
I come to her by means of her good fortune.
I come to her by means of all her different fruits.
By means of the long life she bestows, I come to her.
By means of this holy truth.
Sunrise Ceremony Song, from Opler, An Apache Life-Way
White Painted Woman's power emerges,
Her power for sleep.
White Painted Woman carries this girl;
She carries her through long life,
She carries her to good fortune,
She carries her to old age,
She bears her to peaceful sleep.
Sunrise Ceremony Song, from Opler, An Apache Life-Way
In the east,
The White Painted Woman... is walking
in accordance with the pollen of the dawn.
The White Painted Woman is happy over it,
She is thankful for it.
In the south,
She is walking in accordance 
with the sun's tassels;
Long life!
From this, there is good.
In the west,
When the pollen of the abalone shell 
moves with her, there is good;
Long life!
If she lives in accordance with it, there is good.
In the north,
She is the sister of the White Painted Woman;
When she is walking in accordance with it,
There is good.
She is happy over it.
She is thankful for it.
from Hoijer, Chircahua and Mescalero Apache Texts
My mom and dad wanted me to have this ceremony. They told me that I would have a blessing and good life. And they told me, "After you have this dance, you're not a child anymore. You must put away all your playthings." And I thought, How can this be? I'm still youong. But that's how you feel after the dance is over. You're not a child anymore.

It's hard to dance four days, but you have to. You keep thinking, "Can I make it? Can I dance four days, dancing night and day? Will I make it?"...When it's over, you feel so relieved. And people pray for you, putting the pollen on you. And with all that energy and strength and the prayers sthey said for you, you feel blessed...It makes a person stronger.

After the ceremony, you feel proud, because you made is through those four days. You thik to yourself, I'm a woman now. I'm not a child anymore. And you start thinking about your future; you're looking forward to it.

quoted from Pansy Cassadore, San Carlos Apache 
in The Gift of Changing Woman  by Tryntje Van Ness Seymour

We call it Sunrise Dance. When my time came at fourteen, I didn't want to have one. I felt embarrassed. All my friends would be watching....One morning my mother and father took an eagle feather to Godmother Gertrude Foster and placed it on her foot saying, "Would you prepare a dance for my daughter?"

...Saturday is like an endurance test. Men begin the chants at dawn. They are really praying. Godmother tells me to dance while kneeling on a bucksin pad facing the sun - the Creator. In that position, Apache women grind corn. When the time comes for the running, I go fast around a sacred cane so that no evil will ever catch up with me.

Rain begins, and my costume, which weights ten pounds, get heavier....On Sunday, Godfather paints me from the top of my head to the bottom of my buckskin boots. My Aunt Minda sewed the buckskin top; my mother cut and rolled about 200 pieces of tin cans for the jingles; they make me sound like wind in the trees when I walk...Godmother fixed a neck string that holds a cloth to wipe my face and the traditional reed drinking tube and the body scratcher. For the four days I can't bathe, or touch my skin, or drink from a glass.

I'm really glad I had a Sunrise Dance. It made me realize how much my parents care for me and want me to grow up right. They know my small age is past and now treat me like a women. If I have a daughter, I want her to have a Sunrise Dance too.
by Nina Quintero, from "I'm On My Way Running: Women Speak on Coming of Age" from "Coming of Age the Apache Way", National Geographic Magazine, 2/80,
copyright 1980 by National Geographic Magazine and Nina Quintero

When my son was a baby, he was only crawling about by the time he should have been walking. A girl was having a puberty ceremony then, so I took my baby to her. She led the baby, making it walk to the four directions: east, south, west, and north, just a few steps. Then I told her, "Let him walk today." So the girl said, "Let this baby walk today." It was summertime, and the corn was getting ripe. I took my baby home, untied him from his carrier, and left him to sit on the ground. Then I went after some roasting ears in the field. When I came back, I saw him standing up, holding to his carrier...he started to walk to me. When he reached me, he put his arms about my neck. He has never been sick in all the years since that time, because he obtained luck from that pubescent girl.
from Godwin, Social Organization of the Western Apache,
quoted in Golston, Changing Woman of the Apache

Introduction     Quotes     Images    Links

TO Becoming Woman: Apache Female Puberty Ceremony
TO Tika (Tracy/Torrey's Ancient Sites Web Site
TO Celebration of Women in History Site

This web site is copyright 1999 by Tika Yupanqui (alias)
Last updated January 14, 1999.