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Dr. Tahnee Baker: YAN member completes Phd.!!!

Nation’s member receives Doctor of Philosophy/Phd. !!

By Don Decker, YAN News  04/24/18 updated photo

Tahnee Baker of YAN to receive her Phd. !!!

Former director of social services for the Yavapai-Apache Nation in Camp Verde, Arizona Tahnee Baker, is finalizing her doctoral dissertation that will meet her requirement for a doctoral degree in the School of Social Work from Arizona State University. She visited Middle Verde recently where she is enrolled. (Update: April 24, 2018: Tahnee will be honored for commencement at Arizona State University, May 7, 2018-9 a.m. Wells Fargo Arena).

Mrs. Baker is the daughter of Mary Sine Williams of Middle Verde and the late Lee Williams, a Navajo originally from Teesto, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation. Mrs. Baker has a proud heritage of Yavapai, Apache and Navajo as she is the proud grand-daughter of the late David Sine also of Middle Verde and the late Alice McIntosh Sine, of San Carlos.

“My clans are Road Runner and Towering House,” she says and her roots go back to the place where she was born- San Carlos,Arizona. The Bakers currently reside in Chandler and they have three children ages 15, 9 and 8. They also have two God-daughters through the Apache Sunrise Dance ceremony.

Mrs. Baker graduated from Tempe High School in 2001 and started her higher education at Gateway Community College and eventually transferred to Arizona State University to obtain a Bachelors Degree in Justice and Social Inquiry in 2006 followed by a Masters Degree in Social Work in 2010. She spent 2 years with the Yavapai-Apache Nation from September, 2010 to July, 2012 as a social worker and completed a partial directorship of the Department of Social Services before departing for Arizona State University in August 2012 where she began her doctoral program and with hopes to successfully defend her dissertation in Spring 2018.  Mrs. Baker is proud of the educational accomplishments within her family, with both parents and brother graduating with Bachelors degrees and her husband who just graduated with a Masters degree this spring, all from Arizona  State University.   In February of this past year, she received permission from the Nation’s council to conduct a qualitative research study with YAN tribal members who have graduated from college.

So far she has passed some hurdles within her program in addition to getting permission to conduct the research with YAN college graduates. “I approached the tribal council to tell them about my plans to study members of the Nation. A resolution was conducted and passed. The tribal council asked some great questions and supported my study and overall goals” she says with confirmation from the Attorney General’s office.

“The study is about college graduates who have obtained a Bachelor’s degree living both on and off the reservation. I will be speaking with individuals about their educational experiences and their knowledge of tribal history and how all that relates to where they are at now. I am collecting the data right now and I will be done by September (fall 2017) and start my analysis and hopefully have a draft of the entire the dissertation written by the end of the year,” she said. Mrs. Baker states the Nation has a rich history which may or may not play a significant role in the current lives of its members and these are the stories and experiences she will be honoring in the dissertation.   She stated her dissertation proposal, or study plan is already 75 pages of her own writing, which will be incorporated into the final dissertation.


The study is entitled “Exploration of Historical Trauma among Yavapai-Apache Nation College Graduates.”  Mrs. Baker is the co-investigator under the direction of principal investigator Dr. Elizabeth Segal, PhD and Professor with the ASU School of Social Work, as well as Dr. Myla Vicenti-Carpio and Dr. Cindy Sangalang. Mrs. Baker is proud and thankful to have strong female mentors to guide her through her academic journey.

Mrs. Baker states that the study of cultural impact on the educational processes of indigenous people is not a new area of investigation and cites previous studies conducted 20 years ago with the indigenous people of Australia and other indigenous communities.

Mrs. Baker is also incorporating Indigenous research methodologies within the dissertation. Essentially, these methods ensures the research of Indigenous communities honors the people, experiences, land and Indigenous way of life. Conducting the study in this way is important to Mrs. Baker as she enters the small circle of American Indian scholars.

There are many variables that Mrs. Baker is studying, most importantly, she wishes to highlight the strengths of American Indian people which help in obtaining goals on a personal and community level.

To the average lay person, this study seems very complicated but to Mrs. Baker she finds solace in knowing that she may uncover new grounds into contributing factors which promotes or impedes the success and healing for American Indian communities.   Mrs. Baker expresses her gratitude to the YAN tribal council, administration and community members for their support and valuable contribution to her academic journey. She views education as an important tool to help her people and encourages others to always strive for success.       If you are interested in learning more about this study, Mrs. Baker can be reached via email at or at 520-789-6480.


Editor’s Note: Tahnee Baker contacted Gahnavah-Yati News April 23 announcing confirmation of her Doctor of Philosophy degree. This story will be revised to reflect her current status and future plans for professional employment.



Pai people celebrate culture in Middle Verde


By Margie Campos, YAN News

Gathering of the Pai began on Friday evening at 5 p.m., June 12 with the welcoming address and the posting of the flags by Veteran’s groups from across the state and the Nation. All of the departments who helped throughout the previous week in constructing the circled arbors and the different styles of wikiups for tribal demonstrators, had an opportunity to sit back and relax to watch the festivities.

Dinner was served to all the guests to share. The evening began with several different groups singing gourd songs as the women and young girls danced. The last group to perform on Friday night at the end of the day was the White Hill Spirit Dancers from the Yavapai-Apache Nation.

Saturday began with a breakfast provided by the Pai committee. Vendors set up selling jewelry, t- shirts and home made Pai dressDSC_0214es. There were visitors from all over Arizona such as Prescott, Peach Springs, Fort McDowell, Havasupai as well as other places. Some came to participate in the singing and dancing while others came to enjoy Verde Valley and the Yavapai-Apache Nation. This day was full day of singing and dancing from all the different groups as each group began singing, and the women and children danced in the heat of the day. All of the beautiful dancers wore different colored scarves and dresses of various colors.

The night was closed out with the White Hills Spirit Dancers from the Yavapai-Apache Nation. Each day, breakfast, lunch and dinner was sponsored by the different tribes involved as well as local tribal members whom helped with the cooking as well.

At the conclusion of the festival, Vice Chairwoman Darlene Rubio and council member Lorna Hazelwood gave out special gifts to various individuals who assisted with the event. “Today is a good day to give thanks to the Creator for letting us be together and share this moment. Thank you all for putting this together,” said Rubio.

Yavapai Culture

By Gertrude Smith, Yavapai Culture Director

For the Yavapai people, kinships matrilineal, lineage follows your mother’s side. When children marry, the daughter and her husband usually stays with the mother’s side. A son usually goes with his wife to their family. It could be different if the spouse is from a different tribe.

The family is handed down through the mother to the daughters, their daughters and so on. There is a system of sisterhood. Your mother’s sisters, when the mother becomes a grandmother, all her sisters become grandmothers too. Your first cousins are known as your sisters, or your brothers and your second cousins are sisters and brothers. That’s how you have extended families. It just repeats itself. When a grand daughyer comes, she would say, “oh, Goh tha veh muua” and she would call her gohlah. In return, my grand daughter would say, “Okay gohiah“. If its your daughter’s son, then I would be my grandson’s gohtah, but if its your son’s daughter I am considered her mohddah.

For men and women, its different. My first cousins would be my nuudtah. It is because they are my mother’s brother’s daughters. My First cousin would be my nuudtah. It is because they are my mother’s brother’s daughters. My mother’s sister daughter’s would be my blyah. A younger girl wold be considered a myah and the younger sister would be geh lah. The boy would be your wah’gah and your uncles would be your qweddahs.

It is a really unique and valuable system. Even if your grandmothers or grandfathers (mother’s sisters or brothers) didn’t have children of their own, they still had grandchildren because of their brother or sisters. They were never left without any family. Everybody had family and it went on and through the years.

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