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The Fort McDowell Yavapai, Apache and Mojave

Located just north of Phoenix, Arizona is the Fort McDowell Reservation. It is home to three different tribes, the Apache, the Mojave and the Yavapai numbering a total of around 600 individuals (REAI, 1). The Yavapai, known as the "People of the Sun" (DAI, 455), originally inhabited an area of central Arizona stretching eastward from the Colorado River and north of the Gila River (ENAT, 256). This is the largest of the three reservations allocated to the Yavapai, the others being the tiny Yavapai-Prescott Reservation further north (REAI, 3) and the Camp Verde Reservation, also to the north (REAI, 1).

The Yavapai have frequently been confused with neighboring tribes and have been known as the Mojave-Apache in the past. This former name sometimes makes the identity of the resident tribes on the Fort McDowell reservation alternate between simply the Yavapai: the Mojave and Apache, but not the Yavapai; and the Apache, Mojave and the Yavapai which is the correct breakdown. The reservation, furthermore, is home to two separate government entities, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and the Apache Mojave Community of Fort McDowell.

Only the Yavapai of Fort McDowell are known to possess a flag. That flag is light blue and bears the tribal seal in the center. NAVA member Harry Oswald was permitted to photograph the flag of the Fort McDowell Yavapai that was located at the local veterans organization hall. Attempts to locate a copy of the flag at other reservation locations proved futile. Unlike many native nations engaging in the gaming industry, the tribal flag does not fly outside the casino of the Yavapai. None were known to exist in the tribal headquarters, the local gas station owner was hoping to obtain one and fly it at his station. Even the one that Mr. Oswald was permitted to photograph was rolled up and stored in a closet! From the photo, it can be seen that the flag was made of silk, beautifully embroidered and obviously intended for use in parades or ceremonies.

The seal on the flag however, is quite visible throughout the reservation. One common location is in the sides of the cars employed by the Fort McDowell Police. The seal pictures the Arizona landscape in shades of blue and green with the Rio Verde River crossing the land shown in blue. Rising out of the mountains in the background are five rays of the sun in yellow. The foreground is dominated by a Saguaro cactus on the right and four different color arrowheads at the base of the seal. These arrowheads, possibly evoking the sacred number four, for the directions, races of man, periods in man's life and other important aspects of native belief and legend appear in white, blue, gold and red.

The entire landscape is backdrop to the head of a bald eagle, sacred to many native peoples and serving as the national symbol of the United States.

The seal is surrounded by a gold ring separated from the landscape by a wavy black band. The gold ring is also separated from the light blue background of the flag by a narrow black ring. On the gold band, in black capital letters appears the legend "Fort McDowell Yavapai Reservation" arcing across the top of the ring, while "Arizona" appears at the bottom.

Don Healy, Bisbee, Az 85603