Yavapai-Apache youth visit Montezuma Castle site in Camp Verde
By Don Decker, YAN News
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.
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.
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.