On Feb. 24, the Yavapai-Apache Nation will mark the 126th 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 their subsequent return to their homeland around 1900.
Tribal offices will be closed Feb. 23 in recognition of this historic event.
The commemoration, formerly known as Exodus, will take place at the Cliff Castle Casino.
Vendor booths of food, arts, crafts and a traditional dress competition for the youth will begin at 10 a.m.
At 11:30 a.m., people of the Yavapai-Apache Nation will commemorate their 1875 forced exodus to San Carlos with a march that will begin at the Casino special events grounds and encircle the casino and end back at the casino special events grounds with a closing ceremony.
Following the march, Indian singers and dancers from around Arizona will exhibit traditional song and dance. Speakers will also share stories and insight on the past, present and future of the Yavapai-Apache Nation.
A traditional social dance will be held at 7 p.m. that evening across the Cliff Castle Conference Center and Lodge
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 Tourism, Yavapai-Apache Sand & Rock and other business endeavors.
Income from Indian Gaming has substantially increased their standard of living, care of their elders, educational opportunities, nurtured traditional customs and culture, increased the nation’s land base and fostered new economic development.
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