Native American Culture
The Yavapai-Apache Nation, a federally recognized sovereign American Indian nation, is a very active part of the Verde Valley community. The tribe is comprised of descendants of the Wipukyipai (Yavapai) and Dil zhee (Tonto Apache) people.
Each tribe inhabited the Verde Valley and Prescott area for hundreds of years before their first European contact. The hills, valleys, and canyons hold many sacred places for the tribes and are the beginnings of their heritage and sustainers of their lives.
Following contact with Western civilization in mid-1800s, the two tribes had several skirmishes to protect their homeland from these invaders. Eventually, they were subdued by the U.S. Army and put on the Rio Verde reserve in 1871.
On February 25, 1875, they were forced on a 180-mile winter march to the San Carlos reservation. Many died en route. Held as prisoners of war for 25 years, they were released around 1900.
Since their return, they have acquired five parcels of land, a total of 665 areas, held in trust for all generations by the federal government. In 1995, the Nation opened Cliff Castle Casino in Camp Verde. The opening of the casino positively affected the Nation's people. The Yavapai-Apache Nation is currently the largest employer in the Verde Valley. The Nation currently has six businesses and more than 32 departments. For more information visit www.yavapai-apache.org.
Yavapai Apache Exodus
On February 27, 1875, the United States Army, acting on an Executive Order from the President, transferred an estimated 1,500 Yavapai and Dilzhe'e Apache from the Rio Verde Indian Reserve 180 miles away to the Indian Agency at San Carlos. The forced removal of the indigenous people of the Verde Valley resulted in several hundred lives lost and the loss of several thousand acres of treaty lands promised to the Yavapai-Apache by the United States government.
The People were forced to march, under considerable duress, through the winter-flooded rivers, mountainous terrain, and harsh weather under the direction of Indian Commissioner L.E. Dudley and U.S. Army troops. Rather than use the wagon roads that could be used to carry supplies and transport the sick and the elderly, Dudley made the people, young and old, walk through the mountain passes and narrow canyon trails get to San Carlos.
The Yavapai and Dilzhe'e Apache remained in internment at San Carlos for 25 years. When finally released, only about 200 actually made it back to their homeland in the Verde Valley. What they found when they returned was that their land was taken over by Anglo settlers and that there was no longer a place reserved for the Yavapai-Apache people in their own homeland.
The Yavapai-Apache people have come a long way since that fateful day in 1875. The entire event, now known as Exodus Day, is reenacted each year by the Yavapai-Apache Nation in the 1875 Removal - 1900 Return commemoration. Last February marked the 129th anniversary of Exodus Day, and the Nation honored it with a weekend full of ceremony, traditional song and dancing, food, and other activities for the family and general public.
Visiting Yavapai Apache
The Yavapai-Apache Nation is a sovereign Native American tribe from the Verde Valley, Arizona. Tribal members have two culturally distinct backgrounds and speak two indigenous languages.
The Yavapai originate from Yuman-speaking peoples known as the Pai. The Apache descend from an Athapaskan background similar to other Apache groups to the East.
Yavapai and Apache history in the Verde Valley spans several hundred years, as two distinct indigenous groups that co-existed in surrounding areas, and as one Indian tribal nation since 1934.
The Yavapai-Apache Tribal Administration Complex, Tribal Court, Council Chambers, and Cliff Castle Casino are located on the reservation in Camp Verde, about 90 miles north of Phoenix and 40 miles south of Flagstaff, along Interstate 17.
The reservation today spans 665 acres in the four communities of Camp Verde, Middle Verde, Clarkdale, and Rimrock.