In 2017, the Verde Valley Archaeology Center received a Museums for America grant of nearly $24,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), an independent Federal agency.
The Verde Valley Archaeology Center was one of 132 projects selected to receive funding out of the 558 applications received.
“As centers of learning and catalysts of community change, libraries and museums connect people with programs, services, collections, information, and new ideas in the arts, sciences, and humanities. They serve as vital spaces where people can connect with each other,” said then IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “IMLS is proud to support their work through our grant making as they inform and inspire all in their communities.”
The mission of the Verde Valley Archaeology Center (VVAC) includes fostering a deeper understanding of prehistory and American Indian history in the Verde Valley of Central Arizona. The Yavapai-Apache Nation (Nation) is located within the Verde Valley and has been on the VVAC Advisory Council since 2010.
In discussions with Yavapai Culture Director Gertrude Smith, and Apache Culture Director Vincent Randall, it was agreed that the existing Yavapai-Apache exhibit in the Center needed to be updated and expanded. The directors also expressed the feeling that the public was not sufficiently aware of their long and challenging history and that they are, in fact, “still here.”
The VVAC lead the project in partnership with the Yavapai-Apache Nation’s cultural directors and archaeologist. The exhibit opens to the public on Saturday, Sept. 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 pm. The intent of the exhibit is to provide a better understanding and appreciation of the ancestral and current Yavapai and Apache who have been in the Verde Valley since about 2,000 B.C.
The Nation’s ancestors left no “archaeological footprint” since their wickiup dwellings were made of organic materials that seldom survived the elements for more than one year. Their lifestyle was based on following the seasonal plants and wild game over much of Arizona. As a result, they did not make heavy pottery that we find at archaeological sites, but rather they developed remarkable basket weaving skills more suitable for travel. But even these potential artifacts are unavailable today.
Apache Culture Director, Vincent Randall, said that because of taboos against keeping personal belongings of dead people, all personal possessions were burned. It was not until the Yavapai and Apache people were force-marched 180 miles to the San Carlos Reservation in 1875 that their basket weaving skills became tourist items. The exhibit highlights these skills with eight baskets on loan from the Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, and two large baskets on loan from the Yavapai-Apache Nation.
Before launching the new exhibit, VVAC sought to create a new visitor experience that would be both compelling and interactive while improving the transfer of information about the Yavapai-Apache Nation.
The VVAC settled on an iPad Kiosk system as the best solution for communicating, displaying, and encouraging visitor interaction with detailed information on the Nation.
Rather than standing and reading a large display, visitors will be able to sit at one of two kiosks and select the information they are most interesting in learning about.
This use of already-compiled and accessible information allows the museum to transition from static signage to self-service learning. The kiosk information will also be available on the Center’s website for visitors to refer to later.
The Center is located at 385 S. Main St., Camp Verde. The museum exhibits are free to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additional information on the Center’s activities is available at www.vvarchcenter.org, or by calling 928-567-0066.