By: DAWN BEAUTY (Pai Woman) picture credits Edwina Hazelwood
An event that was once held annually has once again returned, as large gathering restrictions have been lifted. The event started in 1999 and was first hosted by the Yavapai-Apache Nation. The Pai tribes are Hualapai, Havasupai, Camp Verde Yavapai, Apache Nation, Fort McDowell Yavapai, Prescott Yavapai and the Pai Pai from Mexico. The tribes rotate hosting this Gathering and the location is held on the hosting tribe’s reservation.
This year’s hosting tribe was the Hualapai Tribe, the People of the tall Pines. This year’s event was titled Ba Wasi:vk Ba Way gil’ija “Memories’ ‘ during opening ceremonies the Pai Women title holders performed a sacred Spirt Run. This Run was to give honor to the Pai Women title holders who have passed and to their surviving families.
Once the Spirit Run was completed the festivities continued with the opening performance given by the Havasupai Ram dancers. They kicked off the celebration by encouraging all to hold hands in unity and to dance for all living things. Spectators joined the Ram dancers as they danced the circle dance. This performance was followed by the hosting tribes Peach Springs Bird Singers, they sang traditional gourd songs, while the Hualapai women danced the bird dance.
The afternoon performances started back up with the Yavapai-Apache Nation Warriorettes. They performed a war dance, this dance was traditionally performed by women when the men did not return from war and was done to honor them. The Warriorettes were led by drumming and singing of the Fort McDowell Meswadae singers.
The Havasupai Ram Dancers started the day’s performances. The Havasupai Basket dancers made an appearance and showcase Havasupai baskets and to honor the skill of basket making. The performances came to an end by opening up to all singers and dancers. The next Gathering of the Pai Tribes will be held on the Fort McDowell Reservation 2023.