High Country News

Aug 10, 2021

2 min read

The Apache community running to rescue its holy mountain

Indigenous spiritual leaders say the Vatican’s observatory is searching for something it doesn’t understand.

Dził Nchaa Si’an in present-day Arizona is a mountain where the deities live. That means it must be approached through the proper corridors, geographically and mentally. Elders teach younger generations to approach prayerfully, through suffering, remembering the ancestors. Wendsler Nosie Sr., who is Chiricahua Apache and enrolled in the San Carlos Apache Tribe, says the mountain is a fixture in Apache religion. “If we were to write the Bible,” he said, “this would be in there.”

Portrait of Wendsler Nosie Sr. at Treasure Park on Mt. Graham. Nosie said, “It’s always amazing when I’m on Mt. Graham to think about the history of our people and what they knew as freedom, remembering over 30 years of this particular struggle against religious discrimination. Knowing in this current generation that we’re coming home to what is holy and sacred, our church, is powerful.” | Molly Peters