"WHITERIVER — High in the White Mountains, Renaldo Dazen pulls his yellow Ram pickup truck, affectionally named “Bumblebee,” through the ponderosa pine-lined roads that follow the natural curves of the White River.
Dazen, a councilman for District 2 of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, was born and raised here. He points out rock cliffs in the shape of a woman, the high school he attended, the hospital where his daughters were born, and he has a story for just about every dirt road and swimming hole on the reservation.
The White Mountain Apache reservation stretches across about 1.24 million acres in eastern Arizona, rising at its highest point to 11,000 feet above sea level. It is the only place in the world where the state fish of Arizona lives in its natural habitat .
The Apache trout is deeply woven into the fabric of this part of the state and locals speak of the fish as if it is a legend. The barista at a coffee shop in nearby Pinetop banters with a regular about catching and cooking trout (her favorite way is smoking it) as he was heading out for a trip. The coffee-drinking angler across the counter admits he has never caught an Apache trout."
Jake Frederico reports for the Arizona Republic September 27, 2022.