Yavapai Indians

Yavapai Indians. According to the Handbook of American Indians (Hodge, 1907, 1910), from enyaéva, “sun,” and pai, “people,” and thus signifying “people of the sun,” but the southeastern Yavapai interpreted it to mean “crooked-mouth people,” that is, a “sulky” people who do not agree with other peoples (fide Gifford, 1936). Also called:

  • Apache Mohaves, in Rep. Office Ind. Aff., 1869, p. 92; 1870.
  • Apaches, by Garcés in 1775-76 (Diary, p. 446, 1900) ; also by Spaniards. Cruzados, by Oñate in 1598 (Col. Doc. Ined., vol. 16, p. 276, 1864-84).
  • Dil-zha, by White (MS.); Apache name meaning “Indians living where there are red ants.”
  • E-nyab-va Pai, by Ewing (1892, p. 203), meaning “sun people” because they were sun worshipers.
  • Gohún, by Ten Kate, (1884, p. 5), Apache name.
  • Har-dil-zhays, by White (1875 MS.), Apache name.
  • Inya’vapé, by Harrington (1908, p. 324), Walapai name.
  • Jum-pys, by Heintzelman, (1857, p. 44)
  • Kohenins, by Corbusier (1886, p. 276), Apache name.
  • Ku-we-vĕ-ka pai-ya, by Corbusier (MS., p. 27); said to be own name, because they live in the south.
  • Nyavapai, by Corbusier (1886, p. 276).
  • Taros, by Garcés in 1775-76 (Diary, p. 446, 1900), Pima name.
  • Yampaos, by Whipple (1856, p. 103).

Yavapai Connections. The Yavapai belonged to the Yuman branch of the Hokan linguistic family, their closest cultural affiliations being with the Havasupai and Walapai.

Yavapai Location. In western Arizona from the Pinal and Mazatzal Mountains to the country of the Halchidhoma and Chemehuevi in the neighborhood of Colorado River and from Williams and Santa Maria Rivers, including the valleys of the smaller branches, to the neighbor-hood of the Gila River.

Yavapai Subdivisions

Gifford gives the following:

A. Kewevikopaya or Southeastern Yavapai, which included the Walkamepa Band (along the southerly highway from Miami to Phoenix via Superior), and the Wikedjasapa Band (along the present Apache trail highway from Phoenix to Miami via Roosevelt Dam). These included the following exogamous bands: Limited to the Walkamepa Band: Ilihasitumapa (original home in the Pinal Mountains); limited to the Wikedjasapa Band: Amahiyukpa (claiming as their homeland the high mountains on the west side of the Verde River, just north of Lime Creek and directly opposite the territory of the Yelyuchopa Clan), Atachiopa (who originated in the mountains west of Cherry), Hakayopa (whose inland homeland was Sunflower Valley, south of Mazatzal Peak, high in the Mazatzal Mountains, and west of Fort Reno in the Tonto Basin), Hichapulvapa (whose country was the Mazatzal Mountains southward from the East Verde River and westward from North Peak and Mazatzal Peak) ; represented in both bands: Iiwilkamepa (who considered the mountainous country between the Superstition and Pinal Mountains as their homeland), Matkawatapa (said to have originated from intermarriage between people of the Walkamepa Band and Apache from the Sierra Ancha), Onalkeopa (whose original homeland was in the Mazatzal Mountains between the lands of the Hichapulvapa and Yelyuchopa clans but who moved later south into the territory of the Walkamepa Band), Yelyuchopa (who claimed as their homeland the Mazatzal Mountains between the territories of the Hakayopa and Hichapulvapa clans). Cuercomache (on one of the heads of Diamond Creek, near the Grand Canyon of the Colorado) is given as a village. Amanyikt, was the principal camp site of the Wikedjasapa south of the Salt River.

B. Yavepe or Northeastern Yavapai, including:

  • Yavepe proper (claiming upper Verde Valley and the mountains on either side, including the Montezuma National Monument), whose bands were: Wipukupa (occupying caves in Redrock country, probably in the region designated as Red Buttes on maps, and descending Oak Creek to plant maize in certain moist fiats and to gather mesquite in Verde Valley), Matkitwawipa (people of upper Verde Valley, East Verde River, Fossil Creek, Clear Creek, ranging south to Cave Creek, and Walkey-anyanyepa (people of the massif to which Jerome clings).
  • Mat-haupapaya (inhabiting the massif from Prescott to Crown King and Bumble Bee), and including: Wikutepa (the Granite Peak Band) and Wikenichapa (the Black Mountains or Crown King Band).

C. Tolkepaya or Western Yavapai, including: Hakupakapa or Inyokapa (inhabitants of mountains north of Congress); Hakehelapa Wiltaikapaya (people of Harquahala and Harcuvar Mountains on either side of Wiltaika (Salome); People’s Valley, Kirkland Valley (upper drainage of Hassayampa Creek near Wickenburg and region around Hillside) ; Haka-whatapa or Matakwarapa (who formerly lived at La Paz and Castle Dome).

Yavapai History. Gifford (1936) states that “the earliest probable mention” of the Yavapai “is by Luxan of the Espejo expedition, who in 1582—1583 apparently visited only the country of the Northeastern Yavapai.” In 1598 Marcos Farfan de los Godos met them and called them Cruzados because they wore small crosses on their heads, and in 1604 Juan de Oñate also visited them, as did Father Francisco Games in 1776, after which time contact with Europeans was pretty regular. They were removed to the Verde River Agency in May 1873. In 1875 they were placed on the San Carlos Apache Agency, but by 1900 most of the tribe had settled in part of their old home on the Verde River, including the abandoned Camp McDowell Military Reservation, which was assigned to their use, November 27, 1901, by the Secretary of the Interior, until Congress should take final action. By Executive Order of September 15, 1903, the old reservation was set aside for their use, and the claims of the white settlers purchased under Act of April 21, 1904.

Yavapai Population. Mooney (1928) estimates 600 Yavapai in 1680. Gifford’s (1936) estimate would about double that, though he does not believe they ever exceeded 1500. In 1873 they were said to number about 1,000 and in 1903 between 500 and 600. In 1906, 520 were reported, 465 at Camp McDowell and Upper Verde Valley, and 55 at San Carlos. In 1910, 289 were reported by the Census, but the same year the Indian Office reported 178 under the Camp McDowell School Superintendent, 282 under the Camp Verde School, and 89 under the San Carlos School; total, 549. In 1823 the Indian Office reported 708 under the Camp Verde School and Salt River Superintendencies. In 1932 the Indian Office reported only 193, but the “Yuma Apache” would add 24. In 1937 there, were 194.

Connection in which the Yavapai Indians have become noted. (See Havasupai.) The name has been perpetuated in that of Yavapai County, Ariz.r period or place. These items are presented as part of the historical record and should not be interpreted to mean that the WebMasters in any way endorse the stereotypes implied.


Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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