By Anthony Belvado
I received a letter in August from a representative of the national park service out of Monteguma Castle and Tugigoot National Monument at Camp Verde. It was an invitation in honor of Native American Heritage month to showcase my apache fiddle. On the Friday, prior to our trip, I assembled all of my supplies, checking and rechecking. We loaded up and were on our way by 11 a.m. that morning. We headed east on Highway 70 due west. We passed all the local communities. At the junction of Highway 60 and 188, north, the landscape desert and rolling mountain scenery was all around us. The higher elevation on Highway 87, and we could see the change in landscape from desert to juniper and pine, with little snow in small patches here and there, as we now exited off Highway 260 and 87. Now due west again, we descended toward our destination, that late afternoon. We arrived at our destination and checked in for the night.
The following morning, as we headed west on Highway 298, for our destination area in Cottonwood, the town itself busy with tourist shop after shop, and people walking around. It was such a busy area downtown, just outside of town, where we made our turn. We followed the signs toward Tuzigoot National Monument, as we drove into the parking lot, we noticed some tables and ramada set up along side the park stone structure building. We unloaded and started setting up. The air was cool, the sun shining, as the visitors start coming in, some stopping and noticed my showcase, others just passing by. As I started to demonstrate my art, one of the large piece of agave stock measuring, drilling, cutting and filing, for the string holder to fit below the sound hole. At times I would stop to answer questions or demonstrate of what a sound my instrument makes, as the two strings meet that tone is produced by vibrating strings, that vibration is felt up and down the entire cavity of the instrument.
I watched their expressions change. Come to find out they have never heard this rare musical instrument before, and didn’t know that it sounded just like a fiddle. This is what excites me the most, to produce that, that sound, a sound that sounds like a fiddle. With all the conversation and demonstration with time span, this first day was a good one. The following morning, as we approach the Montezuma Castle parking lot, we noticed a park ranger. We exchanged greeting and as she showed me the area of set up. Again as on the previous day, we started setting up. Visitors walked by and noticed our showcase, some stopped, others just noticed. I started to work on my big piece of agave stock, advertising, filing, marking and cutting the string holder, aligning to perfection. The visitors were mostly interested to see this huge piece of agave stock I was working on, asking questions like what sound will that produce or is it a cello? Answering and demonstrating my craft, that’s the most satisfaction I get as I spread awareness of this rare musical instrument of the Apache people.
Tsii’edo’a’H, the Apache Fiddle.