The weather did not cooperate with Heritage Days Festival, hosted by the Superstition Mountain Museum this weekend.
Heritage Days is the largest event hosted by a small non-profit in Pinal County. The event grows every year. There are tents where you can purchase local crafts and fine art.
The Barn, one of the only two remaining buildings from the original Apacheland Movie Ranch, served as a reunion hall for actors from westerns filmed at Apacheland. Center stage featured a cowboy trick lasso roper, music, and the world famous Yellow Bird Dancers.
Ken Duncan, his wife and two of his eight sons represented the dancers. Ken is a member of the local San Carlos Indian Tribe. He amused the crowd with his story telling. The Superstition Mountains are the westernmost edge of Apache territory.
He told the Apache legend of the white lines you see at the tip of the mountains, reminders of the great flood that covered the known earth except for the very peaks of the mountains.
The Superstitions are sacred to the Apache. They are formidable – and the Apache believe that you must only enter with purity of intentions. If you enter with a black heart, the Superstitions will claim you.
His youngest son Talon performed the Hoop Dance. He has won many Hoop Dance contests, and this year is able to compete as an adult. I watched in amazement, noting that his feet rarely touched the earth in his performance.
His wife performed the rainbow dance, thanking the Great Spirit for the rains and the promise of the rainbow. Another son performed the Grass Dance. In the plains, the grass grew very high, and the Grass Dance trampled the grass in preparation for a ceremony, dance or battle.
The Yellow Bird Dancers have performed worldwide, and have been invited to the White House. They are unique in that they allow photographs of the dances, but only for personal use. You must have permission to use the photographs professionally.
If you ever have the chance to hear Ken’s story telling and to see the family perform, it is well worth taking time out of your busy life.