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Tribe commemorates special anniversary

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APACHE, Okla_This weekend marks the one hundred year anniversary of the release of the last of the Indian prisoners of war.

The tribe gathered on Saturday in Apache to pay their respects to the eighty one prisoners in a special ceremony.  Fort Sill Apache Indians of all ages helped commemorate the historic event of the last of the Indian prisoners of war being released.

For some, it was a time to reflect on the lives of their ancestors.  Doug Perico spoke on how special this is because of his Grandfather who was born into captivity.  "This is my grandfather, Harry Perico. He was the first born in captivity and lived to be 102 years old," said Perico.

That balloon representing his grandfather, along with eighty others released into the sky. Fort Sill Apache historian Michael Darrow explains exactly what they each represent. "For representing symbolically our tribal members. By the time they were released there were only eighty one of the tribal members left," explained Darrow.

Those prisoners had been moved all around the southeast, from Florida to Alabama.  After twenty five years in captivity, they ultimately ended up at Fort Sill.  In March of 1914 they were released and given land allotments here in southwest Oklahoma.

For Perico, the releasing of the balloons is a look back into the past, and a look ahead to the future. Perico said, "It signifies really the last part. The setting us free. Looking to the heavens and remembering where we came from and we got so far to go yet."

And the releasing of the prisoners one hundred years ago is even more important for him. "Born into captivity, we are all lucky to be here. We are lucky to even have survived," said Perico.

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