Women's Work

Itsonna, (Apache women) always work together. Often they would prepare foods for feasts that were held to commemorate special events, as when men came back from war or during healing ceremonies. Feasts are also an important part of the Sunrise Dance and the girl's family must prepare food for all of the people attending the ceremony.

The Itsonnas were very hard workers because the lives of their families depended on them. This is evident through the different generations of female family members and their relationships to one another. Each family has a matrilineal head and this position falls on one of the female family members whom the family feels scan best carry out such great responsibilities. Grandmother Nellie was such a person. (other Apache women)

(above) Fringe wool shawl belonging to Nellie Enfield is made of marroon wool with hanging fringes worn at special feasts
Water jug covered with pinon pitch made by Nellie Enfield; Arizona, Cibecue, Western Apache

(right) Basket tray made of mulberry bush with a black lightening design executed in devil's claw; Arizona, Apache
Cradleboard made of wood and leather with a boy's stly Pendleton blanket; Arizona, Cibecue, Western Apache

Women would also get together and take a few days to gather acorns, pick piñon nuts or barbecue mescal and corn. They would also go up into the mountains to gather wood for the extended family and haul it back. Women made many of the daily items that we used. Burden baskets were a mandatory part of Apache living; they served multiple purposes in gathering foods, carrying possessions during moves, transporting children, and used in ceremonies.