Culture Uncategorized

Yavapai-Apache share their culture at Montezuma

Yavapai-Apache youth visit Montezuma Castle site in Camp Verde

By Don Decker, YAN News


Yavapai-Apache youth share their culture through dance and songs.


Yavapai-Apache children and their parents and teacher visit with tourists.

The Nation’s culture department participated in culture day at the prehistoric site on November 5. The Yavapai people shared their Bird Dance songs with many tourists and local people who came to visit the special performances and sharing of culture through arts and crafts demonstrations. Montezuma Castle attract over a half million people a year and is considered one of the main attractions in the southwest next to Grand Canyon.

A special table was set up for an interactive activity which gave visiting children an opportunity to make a small necklace bag adorned with small beads. At  another table, master basket weaver, Yavapai-Apache Donna Nightpipe demonstrated  basket weaving techniques as visitors looked on. Interestingly, one basket was sold by Nightpipe during the demonstration.


Yavapai-Apache basket work by Donna Nightpipe shown at the culture day.

There are 3 Yavapai groups in Arizona (Prescott, Ft.McDowell and Camp Verde) and  Nightpipe is the last surviving basket maker of these 3 groups and is noted throughout the region for the flat baskets that she makes out of Devil’s claws and willows. It is a tedious process that takes months to complete according to Nightpipe.


Reba Franco, Yavapai culture specialist, directs activities for the youth.

Throughout the day, special presentations were offered underneath the arbor 100 yards south of the visitor’s center where Apache singer Delmundo Cepress and his singers drummed and sang Apache songs for the tourists who looked on. Yavapai singer and gourd maker, Troy Kaska led his group with Bird Dance songs which are unique to the Pai people of the southwest. Reba Franco, Yavapai, who is with the Yavapai Culture Department, led the girls in the routines of the Bird Dance as Kaska and his group sang for the dancers.

All of the performers from the Yavapai-Apache Nation volunteered to participate in the day’s events. Montezuma Castle site is considered a sacred site for the Yavapai-Apache and the Hopi people.

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