White Mountain, AZ
A Season on the Reservation:
My Soujourn With the White Mountain Apaches
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,
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.
For more information:
Game and Fish Dept.
Box 220, Whiteriver, Arizona 85941.
Ski Touring Arizona
by Dougald Bremner