The Yavapai-Apache Nation will mark the 127th anniversary of the forced removal of the Yavapai and Tonto Apache people from their extensive treaty land in the Verde Valley Friday and Saturday.
The 1875 Removal-1900 Return Commemoration is a holiday of remembrance for the time in 1875 when tribal members were removed by military force from the Verde Valley and honoring their subsequent return to their homeland around 1900. Tribal offices will be closed on Friday in recognition of this historic event.
The Commemoration, formerly known as Exodus, will be held at the Cliff Castle Casino, located at exit 289 off Interstate 17, with various activities also taking place at other nearby locations. Traditional song and dances, the Miss Yavapai-Apache Pageant, a commemorative walk, a Freedom Spirit run, food, and arts and crafts are a few of the highlights of this colorful celebration.
Yavapai-Apache Nation Chairman Aaron Russell will welcome neighbors from the community and all tribal members to share and learn about this historic event that is part of the lives of Yavapai-Apache people today.
“It is an important part of the Yavapai-Apache culture to reverently honor our ancestors. Those tribal members; men, women and children who were forced by the United States Cavalry at gun point to vacate their homes and march many miles from their beloved homeland made great sacrifices that our tribal members benefit from today,” said Chairman Russell. “Mere words cannot begin to express the deep sentiments that we all feel as we remember those who suffered and endured the hardships of the long march to San Carlos and the incarceration that followed. Our ancestors taught us to survive at all costs. Let us remember their lessons as we continue the tradition of commemorating the removal and return of the Yavapai and Apache people to our home.”
The following is the list of events that will take place:
Friday, Feb. 22
• Yavapai-Apache Nation Pageant for Miss Yavapai-Apache, Princess, Little Missy and Tiny tot boy and girl at 7 p.m., in the multi-purpose complex at the Camp Verde Elementary School. Paul Ortega, Mescalero Apache folksinger and guitarist to perform.
• Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Y-A Nation recreational gym in Middle Verde.
Saturday, Feb. 23
• 6:30 a.m. — Blessing of traditional grounds in Boynton Canyon-Sedona at west exit of Enchantment Resort. Harrison Burnette will guide the blessing in the early morning hours. (No cameras or recording equipment allowed during sacred ceremony.) A continental breakfast will be provided courtesy of the Yavapai-Apache Nation.
• 10:30 a.m. — Freedom Spirit Run from Yavapai-Apache Nation tribal administrative office to Texaco Station at I-17 exit.
• 11 a.m. — Commemorative Walk, representing the 1875 forced march to San Carlos begins at the Texaco Station and concludes at the Yavapai-Apache Nation Cultural Resource Center.
• Noon — Official blessing ceremony for the Yavapai-Apache Nation Cultural Resource Center. Luncheon Barbecue at Stargazer Pavilion west of Cliff Castle Casino. Sponsored by Yavapai-Apache Nation tribal ranch and Cliff Castle Casino.
• 1 p.m. – Native entertainment at the Stargazer Pavilion, Cliff Castle Casino with representatives from the Apache, Hopi, and Supai Tribes. Arts & Crafts booths will be available.
• Mescalero Apache folksinger and guitarist Paul Ortega will perform at 4 p.m. in Cliff Castle Casino’s Dragonfly Lounge.
• The day will close with an Apache Social Dance with Franklin Stanley, Sr., of the San Carlos Apache Tribe across from the Cliff Castle Lodge. The social dance will begin at 6 p.m. and continue to approximately 9 p.m.
For additional event information, contact the Apache Cultural Office at (928) 567-0594 Ext 27. For booth space, contact Shirley Larson at (928) 567-4191. For Pageant information contact Anna Jackson at (928) 567-2168 ext. 468. For information on the Basketball Tournament call the Yavapai-Apache Nation Recreation office at 567-1024.