Feb. 28, the Yavapai-Apache Nation will mark the 129th anniversary of the forced removal of the Yavapai and Tonto Apache people from their extensive treaty land in the Verde Valley.
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 it honors their subsequent return to their homeland around 1900. Tribal offices will be closed Feb. 27 in recognition of this historic event.
The Commemoration, formerly known as Exodus, will be held in Camp Verde at the newly established Yavapai-Apache Nation Veterans Memorial Park, located below Cliff Castle Casino, at exit 289 off Interstate 17. Various activities will also take place at other nearby locations.
Traditional song and dances, the Miss Yavapai-Apache Pageant, a commemorative walk, food, and arts and crafts are a few of the highlights of this colorful celebration. A complete schedule of events is attached below.
Yavapai-Apache Nation Chairman Jamie Fullmer welcomes all 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 gunpoint to vacate their homes and march many miles from their beloved homeland made great sacrifices that our tribal members benefit from today," said Chairman Fullmer. "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."
"During the tribal Exodus Days commemoration, the morning is a time of solemn remembrance," said Councilman Ted Smith, coordinator for this year’s event. "It is a time to remember what happened to us as a people, our history as to where we came from, and who we are as the Yavapai-Apache people today, since the return to our homeland. It is also a day on which we rededicate ourselves to being a people. So, it is a time of reflection and spirituality that binds us to this land."
The following is the list of events that will take place in connection with this annual commemoration:
Friday, Feb. 27
__Miss Yavapai-Apache Nation Pageant, at 5 p.m., at the Y-A Nation recreational gym in Middle Verde. For more information, contact Margie Lowry at (928) 567-4259.
Saturday & Sunday, Feb. 28-29
__Men’s basketball tournament (modified, all-Indian). For more information, contact Gary Lollman at (928) 567-1024.
__8:45 p.m. to 12:45 a.m. Live entertainment in the Dragonfly Lounge at Cliff Castle Casino provided by Sneezy Boyz, a Native American band specializing in rock music.
__Exodus Open Golf Tournament at Oak Creek Country Club in the Village of Oak Creek. For more information, contact Earl Beauty at 567-3790 or 300-2592.
Saturday, Feb. 28
__7 a.m. Blessing at the traditional grounds in Boynton Canyon – Sedona at west exit of Enchantment Resort, 525 Boynton Canyon. This is the place of emergence of the Apache and Yavapai. For more information, contact Kim Secakuku at 567-1006.
__10 a.m. Arts and crafts booths open. To reserve an exhibit booth, contact Shirley Larson at (928) 274-1774.
__11 a.m. Commemorative walk will take place beginning at the Texaco Station below Cliff Castle Casino.
__Noon. Luncheon. Sponsored by Yavapai-Apache Nation and Cliff Castle Casino.
__1 p.m. Native entertainment at the Veterans Memorial Park with tribal dances and presentations. For more information, contact Kim Secakuku at 567-1006 or Ted Smith at 567-1056.
For information on accommodations and tourism, contact Cliff Castle Casino Castle Club at 567-7999 or Native Visions Tours at 567-3035.
The 1875 REMOVAL - 1900 RETURN
On Feb. 25, 1875, the Yavapai and Apache people began a 180-mile winter march to San Carlos, where they were held in a concentration camp as political prisoners for 25 years.
Around 1900, the U.S. Army allowed passes to the people to leave the reservation without the threat of death. The incarcerated people quickly began the return to their homelands only to find that they were homeless. New settlers had laid claim to the land and defended their properties with threats of death.
Groups of Yavapais and Apaches were chased off homesteads that their ancestors had lived on for centuries. Since both tribes and their families had to survive, they began to congregate in areas of job availability. Concentrations of Yavapais and Apaches were prominent in Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Jerome, Beaver Creek and Camp Verde.
Today, members of the Yavapai-Apache Nation are descendents of the incarcerated Yavapai and Tonto Apache peoples. Their future is bright as they develop economic bases through Cliff Castle Casino, Native Visions Tours and other economic development. Income from Indian gaming has substantially increased their standard of living, improved care of their elders and educational opportunities, nurtured traditional customs and culture, increased the Nation's land base and fostered new economic development.
The Yavapai-Apache Nation is a self-governed sovereign Indian nation that has called the Verde Valley home for more than 150 years, and whose ancestors in the area date back several centuries. The Nation opened Cliff Castle Casino in 1995, breathing new life into the local economy and creating more than 800 jobs for northern Arizona residents.
Each year, the Yavapai-Apache Nation donates more than a quarter of a million dollars to charities and educational initiatives in northern Arizona, the majority of this to the towns of Camp Verde and Clarkdale.