Arizona: Yavapai-Apache


The Yavapai-Apache Nation consists of two distinct peoples, the Yavapai and Apache. The Yavapai refer to themselves as Wipuhk’a’bah and speak the Yuman language, while the Apache refer to themselves as Dil’zhe’e and speak the Athabaskan language. 

The Yavapai-Apache once occupied much of central Arizona but were forced onto reservations when gold was discovered in their territory just after the Civil War. They first were relocated to Camp Verde, then to the San Carlos Apache Reservation and then were split between the Fort McDowell, Camp Verde and Yavapai-Prescott reservations. 


The Yavapai Indians descended from the Hohokam culture and have a language similar to the Havasupai and Hualapai Indians. The Yavapai called themselves Enyaeva, which had mixed meanings. Some think it means “people of the sun,” while others claim it means “crooked-mouth people.” 

The Yavapai lived in bands that consisted of several extended families and were usually led by a single man. The bands shared responsibilities and migrated together over a large area in Arizona, living in caves or shelters made of rock or pole frames. Yavapai women specialized in basketry – some of it was woven so tightly it could carry water. This enabled them to trade with the Navajo and Apache. 

Settlers started moving onto Yavapai lands in the 1820s, and before long had greatly diminished the Yavapai hunting and agricultural lands. The Yavapai were semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers, while bands of Apache hunted, fished, farmed and traded throughout the region. 


The Yavapai-Apache Reservation covers 1,800 acres in the Verde Valley of Arizona and is comprised of five tribal communities: While nearly 900 people live on the reserve, there are nearly 2,600 enrolled tribal members.  

 The Yavapai-Apache elected to open a gaming facility in 1995, which provides much-needed revenue to boost social programs. In addition, the Montezuma Castle National Monument and other attractions draw visitors to the Verde Valley. The average annual income for residents is more than $50,000; however, 33% of those on the reservation live in poverty, and 12% are jobless.