The Yavapai-Apache Nation, a federally recognized sovereign Native American nation, is a very active part of the Verde Valley community. The tribe is comprised of descendants of the Wipukyipai (Yavapai) and Dil zhee (Tonto Apache) people. These two groups inhabited the Verde Valley and Prescott area for hundreds of years before Europeans entered the region. The hills, valleys, and canyons of Central Arizona hold many sacred places for both tribal groups. The landscape is at the heart of their heritage and sustainers of their lives.
Following contact in the mid-1800s, the Yavapai and Apache attempted to protect their homeland before the U.S. Army eventually subdued them during the winter of 1872 and forced them to move to the 900-square-mile Rio Verde Reservation. On February 25, 1875 the federal government took away the reservation and the Yavapai and Apache were forced on a 180-mile winter march to the San Carlos Reservation in southeast Arizona. Many people died en route. Held as prisoners of war for 25 years, the Yavapai-Apache began returning to the Verde Valley around the turn of the 20th century.
Since their return, the Yavapai-Apache acquired five parcels of land, a total of 665 acres, held in trust for all generations by the federal government. In 1995, the Nation opened Cliff Castle Casino in Camp Verde. Casino revenues have had a positive effect on the Valley’s economy and its people. The Yavapai-Apache Nation is currently the largest employer in the Verde Valley, operating six businesses and numerous government departments.