White Mountain, AZ

White Mountain Events

Alpine-Pinetop, Arizona

A Season on the Reservation:

My Soujourn With the White Mountain Apaches

By Kareem

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Nearly a decade after leaving professional basketball, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar decided to return to the sport he loved by becoming the assistant coach of the Alchesay Falcons--a high school team composed mostly of White Mountain Apaches. But in A Season on the Reservation, he may have actually learned more than he taught.

An outsider at the beginning, Abdul-Jabbar found ways to learn more about his athletes and the tribe. He discovered cultural traditions that made it difficult to coach the team (discomfort at being singled out for criticism, for example) and became more sensitive to the special challenges faced by young Native Americans. As Abdul-Jabbar notes, by working with the students he moved from a historical appreciation for the White Mountain Apaches as a people to an understanding of them as individuals. That said, Abdul-Jabbar can't quite seem to shake his romantic image of the young Apaches: "Sometimes I would glance his way and imagine him sitting astride a paint pony two hundred years earlier, ready to ride off into the mountains and hunt."

Through his players, Abdul-Jabbar finds himself getting caught up in the competition--his passion for basketball obviously rekindled. Readers may find the end of the Falcons' season rather abrupt, but perhaps that's the nature of high school sports. They also may be a bit put off by Abdul-Jabbar's occasional arrogance, especially when talking about his professional days ("The 1985 Lakers would have taken [Jordan's Bulls] in a championship series.") or when dissing later NBA stars such as Shaq ("He's publicly referred to the way I used to play as 'old man's basketball,' which it may have been, but it earned me six more rings than he's got so far."). Overall, however, A Season on the Reservation is infused with an obvious love of the White Mountain Apaches, their land, and the sport of basketball. --Sunny Delaney, amazon.com

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has always been fascinated by history-nineteenth-century American history in particular. Tired of L.A., restless and looking for new adventure, challenge, and discovery, he decides to go live among the Apaches he's read about.

He encounters a complex reality. The kids on the Alchesay Falcons team don't easily embrace what he's trying to teach them on the court. Gradually they begin to learn from him as he begins to learn from them. He teaches them to push out of their comfort zone and try new things, both in sports and in life. They give him something he didn't quite expect: a way to reconnect with his passion for basketball.

This is a story about the qualities we have in common and the things that still divide us in terms of race, culture, and history. Along the way, we get to know the kids, the coaches, the town of Whiteriver and Alchesay High, the tribe-but most of all, we get closer to Kareem, a man well into middle age who wants to pass along his knowledge and experience in basketball and life. Kareem gives something back, and in so doing receives more than he ever imagined.

William Morrow & Co (February 1, 2000)

White Mountain Arizona
Apache Indian Reservation

The White Mountains of Eastern Arizona, in addition to boasting temperatures 20 to 30 degrees below the surnmer triple digits in the state's hot spots, has year-round activities.

The 1.8 million acres, owned by the White Mountain Apache, is one of the best outdoor recreational areas in the state.

The reservation has 400 miles of streams and over two dozen lakes - ample for fishing. Boat permits are required for $2 a day or $10 per year. A fishing license is $5 per day with discounts for additional uses.

Camping permits are required from the tribe. A $5 family permit for a picnic for sightseeing stop is required.

Although Arizona's White Mountains is home to one of the fastest growing ski resorts and lodges in the Southwest, hitting the slopes isn't the only popular activity in the region. Sunrise Ski Area is a busy place in the winter. The Sunrise Ski Lodge is often booked far in advance.

White Mountain Events

For more information:

Game and Fish Dept.
Box 220, Whiteriver, Arizona 85941.

Ski Touring Arizona

by Dougald Bremner

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