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~ Amanda Paxson
When I was younger, my grandmother always
emphasized the importance of learning the
Apache language and culture because it was
slowly fading away and the younger generation
were becoming less and less involved in
learning how to speak our Native language and learning our cultural way of life.
At a very young age, my grandmother taught my sisters and I how to speak the Apache language fluently. When we traveled with her to the local grocery store on the reservation, she would tell everyone she encountered how she was proud of my sisters and I for learning how to speak our Native language fluently.
During the weekends, when my parents would travel out of town to take care of business, I would spend quality time with my grandparents, and I would attend traditional ceremonies with them. When we arrived at the ceremonial dance grounds, my grandma would explain the cultural significance of the various elements of the ceremony.
A few years later, I had the opportunity to experience a Sacred Apache Sunrise Dance ceremony and in the Apache culture. The young Apache girl spends years preparing for the four day ceremony. Although the ceremony is only four days, the four days are very sacred because the young Apache girl is preparing to transition from a child to a woman. My ceremony was four days which consisted of songs and prayers to ensure I will have a content and fulfilling life.
I believe my traditional beliefs have created a significant impact in my life because it has provided guidance and protection in my everyday life as well as in my educational journey. I’m grateful my grandmother taught me the significance of preserving the language and culture because our ancestors have preserved our language, songs, culture, traditional herbs and medicines for us to have every single opportunity we currently have, such as to obtain our educational goals and to return back to our Native communities.