Learn more about Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation

Fort McDowell Casino is a paid advertiser of Sonoran Living Live

Yavapai Perseverance--
Preserving Their Land, Culture and Identity

From the fight to be released from a prison camp in the desolate desert to tangling with, and victory over, the FBI, Fort McDowell Yavapais have endured in the face of adversity to preserve their land, culture and identity.

Tragically, the Yavapai people, who once roamed 12 million acres across Central Arizona, were once hounded, slaughtered, sold into slavery and marched from their ancestral homelands to the San Carlos Reservation in 1872. Yavapais fought for and won the right to return home, and were granted a 24,000 acre reservation in 1903. Their land is located in the lush upper Sonoran Desert in the shadow of Four Peaks, 23 miles northeast of Phoenix. The Verde River, which flows through reservation, provides a cool, green riparian zone and is a haven for wildlife, including many eagles.
Two decades later, two more Yavapais once again changed the course of American Indian history by scoring a legal and political victory that granted American Indians the right to vote. Filing a lawsuit that went all the way to the Arizona Supreme Court, in 1948 a ruling determined that Yavapais had American citizenship and the right to vote.

One of Fort McDowell's biggest victories resulted when Arizona officials approached the small tribe to construct Orme Dam at the confluence of the Verde and Salt rivers. The resultant reservoir would have flooded the tribal land and effectively disbanded the impoverished 425-member community. Tribal leadership fought vehemently against the effort and on Nov. 12, 1981, Interior Secretary James Watt announced that the dam would not be built. Orme Dam Victory Days is now a major tribal holiday celebrated in November.

In 1984, Fort McDowell took another step towards self-reliance with a small bingo hall that evolved into a casino by the end of the decade, incurring the wrath of both Arizona and the U.S. government. On May 12, 1992, FBI agents raided the casino and loaded up the slot machines. However, the U.S. government failed to reckon with the spirit of the Yavapais. The community took action with cars, pickups and earth moving equipment, effectively blocking access and roadways. After a three-week standoff, the state signed a gaming compact with Fort McDowell. Sovereignty Day is fittingly celebrated each May to commemorate this historic event.

Today, through hard work, unity and the success of its enterprises, the 900-plus member tribe is a multi-million dollar operation. The Yavapais continue to strive for independence and prosperity. The community is dotted with well-kept homes built by the tribe; a new Early Childhood Development Center, tribal buildings, health center, and a full-service recreation center.

Today, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation operates its own enterprises in the industries of farming, construction, and hospitality and property management. The tribe now owns and operates a sand and gravel operation, farms and orchards, the award-winning We-Ko-Pa golf course, Gas and Convenience Store and Fort McDowell Adventures, a Wild West-style outdoor recreational venue, Eagle View RV Resort, a state of the art facility, the Poco Diablo Resort, nestled in scenic Sedona, Arizona and the Radisson Fort McDowell Hotel, a 247-room luxury resort features the Wassaja Conference Center, with over 24,000 square feet of meeting space, incomparable views of Red Mountain and Four Peaks, and décor inspired by Yavapai culture.

Fort McDowell Casino
Hwy. 87 & Fort McDowell Road

Fort McDowell Casino is a paid advertiser of Sonoran Living Live

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