Arcadia High School and the White Mountain Apache Relationship
At Arcadia High School, we take immense pride in our rich history and enduring relationship with the White Mountain Apaches of Cibecue, Arizona. For more than two decades, our school has fostered a deep sense of unity, respect, and cultural appreciation for the Apache Nation, which has left an indelible mark on our identity and values.
Located in Arcadia, California, the Arcadia Unified School District was founded on the principles of inclusivity and understanding, aiming to provide quality education to all, regardless of their background or heritage. The story of Arcadia High School's connection with the Apache tribe dates back to the school’s founding in 1952 when the school selected the Apache name designation to honor Native American culture. The school’s relationship with the White Mountain Apaches of Cibecue, Arizona, began in 1998.
Recognizing the importance of fully honoring our namesake, the Apaches, Arcadia High School reached out to the White Mountain Apache tribe to forge a partnership based on mutual respect and cultural exchange. This alliance would go on to shape the school's emblem, using the powerful and revered Apache as a symbol of distinction, unity, strength, perseverance, and pride.
Over the years, the relationship between Arcadia High School and the White Mountain Apaches has grown stronger, fostering a profound appreciation for the Apache culture among our students, faculty and staff, and the wider community. Our students are enriched with the history, traditions, and contributions of the Apache Nation through the Student Council Apache Commission (SCAC), which was founded in 1999, helping our students develop a deep understanding and respect for Native American heritage. One of SCAC’s original goals and founding principles was to oversee and monitor the use of the Apache designation in collaboration with the Apaches. SCAC also coordinates the Ed Schreiner Toy and Jacket Drive, which delivers much-needed resources, requested supplies, gifts, and more to the Apache reservation each holiday season. In addition, SCAC hosts other fundraising efforts each school year in further support of the White Mountain Apaches.
Furthermore, over the years, Arcadia High School has been an active participant in various cultural events and collaborations with the White Mountain Apaches. Our students and staff have been privileged to engage in cultural exchange programs and learn traditional Apache dances, songs, and crafts. These experiences deepen their understanding and cultivate empathy, celebrating the diversity and interconnectedness of all cultures.
Through the years, and most recently in 2020, we had been asked to revisit the use of the Apache name, imagery, and emblem that represents our school. In October of 2021, we held a virtual “ThoughtExchange” forum to gather input from our stakeholders and others. A few weeks later, we held an in-person community forum to continue to gather feedback. Arcadia High School and Arcadia Unified administrators also met with members of the White Mountain Apache tribe, who reaffirmed their approval and appreciation of Arcadia High School’s respectful and dignified use of the Apache name.
In a letter to Arcadia Unified, dated October 20, 2021, Gwendena Lee-Gatewood, the Tribal Chairwoman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, expressed her unwavering support.
“We have never objected to the use of the Apache name for Arcadia High School, because it has been represented with respect, and what an honor that has been for us all. We continue to support the continued use of the name.
Apaches, from our earliest days, Apache history has been American history. We are the indigenous people who fought for our nation's independence and still serve in the military today to protect the ideals of what makes America so great. We stand on the shoulders not only on the alumni of Arcadia Apaches, but also countless, nameless heroes who have rightly upheld the name Apache with respect, honor and dignity. We have helped shape American culture, and we have done so in quiet humility. We are proud to honor this rich heritage of ours, and shouldn't be treated as somehow separate from collective American history or the history of Arcadia High School. Arcadia High School has exhibited talent, academic achievement, competitiveness and sheer tenacity and sportsmanship all in its good name, and never have we been advised that their Apache mascot was treated in disrespect or in vain. The White Mountain Apache people have long had ties with Arcadia High School for over 20 plus years, a relationship built on mutual respect, friendship and dialogue to know one another. Arcadia High School has supported our reservation by doing countless coat drives and gift deliveries to spread Christmas cheer to our people.”
The choice to represent our distinguished school with the Apache emblem is a symbol of unity, resilience, and the enduring values we strive to instill in our students. It serves as a constant reminder of the importance of honoring and cherishing the heritage and traditions of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, promoting inclusivity and building bridges between communities.
At Arcadia High School, we believe that through education, understanding, and a shared commitment to unity, we can build a brighter future together. We are proud of our long-standing partnership with the White Mountain Apaches and will continue to foster a learning environment that embraces diversity, promotes cultural appreciation, and prepares our students to be respectful global citizens.
Join us in celebrating our legacy as we stand hand in hand with the White Mountain Apaches, and together, let us forge a path of understanding, unity, and academic excellence for generations to come.
Arcadia High School,
Proud Home of the Apaches