Since ancient times, they called themselves'the people of the red rock country'. The region they roamed on their hunting and plant gathering forays remains among the most lush and magnificent in the Southwest.Before white contact, the Yavapai were a wealthy people in terms of their environment.Unfortunately, the land that sustained them for centuries would be coveted by a more powerful and war-like tribe from the East…the English-speaking Americans.
But Americans were not thefirst white people the Yavapai encountered.Two hundred years before American contact, Spanish white men from Mexico entered the Verde Valley (the area located in the center of the state, Camp Verde) in search of fabled'lakes of gold,' and a route to the South Seas.The Spanish had nodifficulty in recognizing the differences in language between the Yavapai and Western Apache, whom they also encountered.
Following on the heels of the gold-hungry prospectors were the settlers.By 1864, the U.S. Army was building forts throughout Yavapai and Apache ancestral lands.In less than 10 years, white efforts to destroy the well-ordered lifeways of the Yavapai and the Apache, and exterminate them as a people, very nearly succeeded.
Soldiers knew that fighting the fierce Apaches of Arizona and New Mexico, required particular skill and heroic fearlessness.For many, the challenge was irresistible.Unfortunately, the peace-seeking Yavapai of Arizona were mistaken for Apaches…or, as the Yavapai tell it…there was no mistake.
On September 26, 1864, the First Territorial Legislature met in Prescott, Arizona.The most pressing concern before this legislative session was the need for troops to make war against the "Apaches."At this point in time, both Yavapai and Apaches were considered (by the whites) one and the same.
The months between 1869-70 finally reac