AN APACHE GIRLS PUBERTY CEREMONY

In many Apache ceremonies the following legend is re-enacted. In the coming-of-age rite sometimes the young girls will wear the costume of the White Painted Woman. Before battles some braves would dance the role of Killer of Enemies.

One of the most important holy being for Apaches is White-Painted Woman, also known as Changing Woman or White Shell Woman. Her sons, Killer of Enemies and Child Born of Water, triumphed over the evils of the world personified as monsters, making the world safe for humans. The Mountain Spirits ensure the well-being of the people by protecting them from epidemic diseases and enemies. The Mountain Spirit Dancers or Crown 

Dancers "become" these sacred beings in the same way that the Hopi who dance specific katsinam become those katsina spirits. The Western Apache call them the gaan while the Eastern Apache know them as gaa'he. 

Embodying the Mountain Spirits, they dance at night, bringing the spiritual world into physical manifestation. Their heads crowned with wooden slat headdresses, four Mountain Spirit Dancers and a clown wield their wooden swords as they dance around the fire. The bull-roarer, which is whirled on a length of string to produce a distinctive, resonating sound, drums, and singing accompany their dancing among the Western Apache. 

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