THE YAVAPAI PEOPLE

The Yavapai are a Yuman-related people who have lived, many believe, hundreds of years in this area. They have no tradition of having come from anywhere else. They have suffered a great number of injustices in the last three hundred years, and, compared to their former numbers, only a few survive. There are even fewer who still speak the old language.

The Yavapai range stretched from south of the Pinals, along their western edge, through central Arizona, to just north of Sedona. The current Yavapai still live in approximately the same area, on the San Carlos Apache Reservation, the Tonto Apache Reservation in Payson, the Fort McDowell Reservation near Mesa, the Camp Verde Reservation near Sedona, and the Yavapai Reservation near Prescott.

In the 19th century the Yavapai were friendly with the Athabascan-speaking Apaches, who were their eastern neighbors. Consequently, they suffered the same incredible amount of persecution as did their neighbors. The Yavapai also were often called "Apaches," because their lifestyle was similar, but in reality they were a completely independent people. Those who were aware of their distinction from the Athabascan Apaches called the Yavapais "Mohave Apaches." Some older people still use that term in referring to the Yavapai.

The Yavapai bands in the Pinal Mountain region called themselves Kewevkapaya, or "people of the east." Another way of putting that is "people of the sun." The Kewevkapaya still exist, most of them at the Fort McDowell Reservation near Mesa.

Good books to consult about the Yavapai are:

Corbusier, William T. Verde to San Carlos. Tucson: Dale Stuart King, 1971.

Gifford, E.W. Northeastern and Western Yavapai. Univ. of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, vol. 34, 1936.

________. Northeastern and Western Yavapai. Univ. of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, vol. 29, 1932.

Ruland-Thorne, Kate. The Yavapai. Sedona: Thorne Enterprises, 1993.

Schroeder, Albert H. Yavapai Indians. New York: Garland Publishing, 1974.


The Yavapais of Ft. Mcdowell have a web site at www.ftmcdowell.com/


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