100 years free
Taken across the country and halfway back again, this weekend, the Fort Sill Apache Tribe celebrates a century of freedom at its adopted Southwest Oklahoma homelands.
The Apache Casino Hotel (ACH), 2315 E. Gore, and the tribal complex in Apache will be centers of activities this weekend for this special centennial celebration of the final release of the Chiricahua/Warm Springs Apache from being labeled "prisoners of war."
The tribe joined with its Mescalero brethren last April in New Mexico for a similar celebration for the Chiricahua people. The Fort Sill Apache Tribe, headquartered in Apache, is part of this lineage.
The celebration will begin at 6:30 a.m. Friday morning at the ACH with a prayer and small ceremony using pollen. A welcoming event and showing of a special centennial video will presage a 12:30 p.m. reception for all the former Fort Sill Apache princesses. Friday afternoon and most of Saturday's activities will be at the tribal complex in Apache. A pinnacle moment will be the historical transition event at 3 p.m. Saturday. Fort Sill Apache Chairman Jeff Haozous said an arch or gate will be constructed for the Fort Sill Apaches to walk through.
"Our historian was quoted in our newsletter as saying, 'We want to wash ourselves clean from the negative effects of what happened to our ancestors,'" Haozous said. "It will symbolize that."