October 31, 2008

Apaches' Little Beaver celebration

Apache tribe featured in photo exhibitThis particular tribe of the Apaches now mostly resides in northern New Mexico, with its reservation stretching across two counties—Rio Arriba and Sandoval.

But despite the Jicarillas’ rich history in the area, it was American artist Fred Harman who began the tradition of the “Little Beaver” celebration five decades ago.

“(Harman) was one of the creators of the Red Ryder comic strip, and he wanted an Indian lad in his comic strip,” Moore said. “He lived near the Jicarilla reservation, so he went there and selected one of the boys to pose for him so that he could get a drawing and that became ‘Little Beaver’ in Red Ryder. That’s how the Little Beaver celebration got started, and being the 50th anniversary, the original Little Beaver was there, and he spoke to the crowd.”

The festivities included a parade, pony races, a rodeo, an archery contest, and a pow-wow dance.
Comment:  So Red Ryder's pal Little Beaver was modeled on a real Indian boy? And the Apaches started an annual celebration based on the comic-book character? I did not know that. Another interesting intersection between Native America and pop culture.

For more on the subject, see Native American Heroes in the Comics:  An Overview (Part 1).

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