The Apache Indian (1945)

A brief summary of Apache/Nde/Ndee everyday activities (particularly women's roles) and ceremonies including the Sunrise Ceremony/Girls’ Puberty Ceremony.
Cultural Narrative: 

Counter-narration by Cheyenne Bearfoot, Chiricahua Apache, and graduate of the University of California Santa Cruz. Language of narration is primarily English. Recorded in 2020.


Opening title card: “Coronet Productions presents The Apache Indian. Copyright 1945 by Coronet Productions” over an illustration of a pipe with a circular emblem with a drawing of Apache man’s face in profile and a spear with a circular emblem  with a drawing of a buffalo shot by an arrow; titles continue: “This picture was made through the courtesy of United States Department of Interior, Office of Indian Affairs, Supervision by Alfred Whiting, Museum of Northern Arizona.”     

A White Mountain Apache (or perhaps Mescalero Apache/Shis-Inday/Mashgalénde/Mashgalé-neí/Mashgalé-õde) woman walks away from the camera, through a shrub-filled landscape of sage bushes and other vegetation, holding hands with a little girl and toddler, with what may be the White Mountains in the distance and a conical dwelling made of standing branches (wickiup) nearby; a large group of Apache women wearing two-piece camp dresses dancing — moving forward and backward in lines; closer view of Apache men in various hats and neckerchiefs drumming and singing; two sets of three women dancing two men; back to the drummers and then the women dancing now with dust kicking up a bit; two women sit on the ground leaning next to wickiup doorway, a little girl and toddler boy play around them; larger view of the dwelling, just the woman with whiter hair now with the children, the other walks out of the attached wooden door frame with a large jar-shaped basket (tus); a darker haired woman in a flowered dress scooping corn meal by hand into a sieve and shaking over a kettle; a closer view of her seated and grinding the corn with a stone mortar and pestle; close-up of multicolored beads in her hand and then her hands over a large container of the same beads as she strings them onto a headband on a loom; her reaching over to remove a lid of corn husks from a tus woven jar/basket to pour water into a white enameled sauce pan or dipper, other baskets in the background; the same darker haired woman walks over with her jar and dipper and sits down next to the other woman who is seated and working surrounded by backers and pottery, she pours more water into the dipper; closer view of her drinking it; the two women seated with dwellings and such behind them as they eat, then close-ups of each woman eating peaches and looking away from the camera; the whiter haired woman sits next to a wickiup wall, a toddler boy in overalls sits in front and looks at the camera; closer view of the little girl do the same, but holding a woman’s hand; a smiling younger woman picks up and holds a baby in one arm as she arranges the cradleboard before placing the baby; the woman with whiter hair sits next to a wickiup and various jugs picks up and cleans off a peach, a dog rests on the ground behind; men of various ages sitting on a wooden corral fence, two men next to them on horseback; back to the young woman strapping the baby into the cradleboard; close view of (probably) a different baby strapped onto a woman’s back and swaying as she dances, surrounded by others; close-up of the baby from before strapped to the young woman’s back, then her holding up the cradleboard and smiling at the baby who wiggles a bit; two women hoeing in a corn field, mountains and cloudy sky beyond; closer view of one; wide view of a great gathering for a round-up and rodeo in a large field, mountains behind; closer view of same; various views of a large group of men on horseback on a dirt field, talking and herding cattle; a group of men on horseback calf roping; a line of men on horseback watching; three young men/boys watching; back to calf roping; two young women/girls standing and dancing before a wool blanket with white animal skin (Sunrise Ceremony, Girls’ Puberty Ceremony, or Na'ii'ees) while a big group of men behind them drum and sing; closer view of the girls and then the drummers; close-up of the young woman who is being honored at the ritual with elaborately decorated buckskin wrap, jewelry, satin traditional dress, an eagle feather in her hair, and holding a staff; back to wider view with many baskets and metal bins of foodstuffs and the like, another older woman dancing alongside her now, groups of dancing women and men nearby; various views of younger girls dancing; three young women dance towards an older man; the celebrated young woman runs past the camera and other children chase after her, she returns to her spot; closer view of her dancing with an older woman alongside; quick shot of the lines of women dancing; back to the young woman now crouching while she dances with her hands raised, palms out, the older woman behind; a long line of men standing in a row of men watch as five men pass them dressed as deities (Gaun or Gaan Spirits or crown dancers for the Spirit Dance/Dance of the Gods) with ceremonial costumes of plaid kilt-like skirts and white painted torsos with black symbols and long red strips of fabric hanging from their arms, carrying two sticks with markings, and various crowns or headdresses constructed like crosses, fans, and other shapes; closer view of the five dancers dancing as the crowd of mainly men and boys watch; different shot of same but they move closer to the young woman being celebrated and another young woman dancing alongside; nighttime, a roaring bonfire and people dancing by in silhouette.

End credit: “The End, Coronet Instructional Films.”