Chiricahua Apache Runners Celebrate 100 Years Of Freedom
A nearly 500 mile run taking place this week will commemorate 100 years since the release of Chiricauhua Apache prisoners of war. At the same time, Apaches in New Mexico - the runners end destination - will be preparing a celebration to honor relatives that did not return home, while celebrating the generations born from those that survived.
In 1886, Geronimo, and other Apache warriors negotiated terms to lay down their arms and stop fighting the Federal government. As a result, over 500 Apache men, women and children were arrested and held for 27 years as prisoners of war in Florida, Pennsylvania, Alabama and Oklahoma.
On April 4th, 1913, 187 Chiricahua began the journey back from Fort Sill, Oklahoma to New Mexico, while another 78 stayed behind.
Freddie Kaydahzinne, tribal administrator for the Mescalero Apache, says the Chiricahua Freedom runners left Oklahoma Monday and will travel through Texas and into New Mexico.
"We're expecting them to come in on Friday," says Kaydahzinne. "So we're encouraging all of our neighbors from the different cities to be here with us, and if they can't make it we understand, but we like to welcome them to the homelands of the Mescalero Apache people."
On Friday, a Centennial parade will be held, and on Saturday, a traditional feast and ceremonies will be held. Kaydahzinne also says from now on, the first Friday of every April will be a tribal holiday in remembrance of the event.
"We have an Apache word that means we're still alive as Chiracauhua Apaches," says Kaydahzinne, tribal administrator for the Mescalero Apache. "We lost a lot of land, we lost a lot of our people, but we were released, and we're here to say that we're here to stay in Mescalero."