Gahan Dancer

Mana Pottery Apache Gahan Dancer design

The Apache people are generally thought to be a single tribe of Native Americans. In actuality, the Apaches are an assimilation of various Apachean tribes thought to be a subgroup of Athabaskans, who migrated south from Canada and Alaskan regions. The Apache believe that there was once a time when their ancestors lived alongside supernatural beings (Gahans). The common belief, even today, is that there are spirits that live within certain mountains and underground realms. The Devil Dancers or Crown Dancers are not considered to be supernatural beings themselves, but are humans who, when dressed as the Gahan Dancer performing the ceremony, are believed to possess the “special ability” of summoning these mountain spirits. They are a link between the supernatural and natural worlds to ensure the well-being of the people, protecting them from not just their enemies, but epidemic diseases.