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Yavapai-Apache Nation inaugurates new council members

Jon Huey was installed as the new Chairman of the Yavapai-Apache Nation. Mr. Huey served as the police chief for the Nation and was on the force for 17 years. He is replacing now former Chairperson Jane Russell-Winiecki who served for the past 3 years.

By Don Decker, YAN News 10/04/19

Approximately 250 people attended the inauguration at the Nation’s new convention center at the Cliff Castle Casino in Camp Verde on Friday night. The evening was replete with traditional Yavapai, Apache and gospel music brought forth by the Nation’s community members.

On stage, the Apache traditional singers led by Martin Loretto and other singers from the community sang the songs as the new council came into the banquet hall under the thunderous applause of attendees. This pageantry was unique as new council members Ricardo Pacheco, new council member danced into the convention center accompanied by this wife.

Tanya Lewis was sworn in as the new Vice Chairperson of the Yavapai-Apache Nation. Ms. Lewis has been the Executive Administrative Assistant for the Executive Office. In addition, she has served one term on the council in past years.

Apphia Shirley entered next accompanied by another host who also danced in from the rear of the banquet hall dancing to the cadence of Martin Loretto’ s singers.

Apphia Shirley wore a yellow camp dress accentuated by the colorful belt. The crescendo got louder as the new Vice Chairwoman Tanya Lewis entered being led by her father along with her son. Finally, the applause got louder and whopping voices brought in Chairman Jon Huey.

Herbert Trujillo, Election Board Chief and Laura Cornelius Election Board member administered the Oath of Office to each new member of the council. New executive officer members gave a short greeting to the audience by expressing their appreciation for the reception. There was a positive aura during the inauguration which was opened with a prayer by David Kwail who has served more times as a Chairman and council member over the years.

Ricardo Pacheco signs the Oath of Office with Election Officers Laura Cornelius (L) and Election Chief Herbert Trujillo witness Mr. Pacheco’s signature. Mr. Pacheco is filling the vacated seat of Siera Russell who completed a 3-year term.

It was an exquisite evening that was emceed by the current Miss Yavapai-Apache Nation Chelsey Kaska. The convention center served a complete array of delightful entrees.

Apphia Shirley signs the Oath of Office. Ms. Shirley will complete a one year term to finish a term vacated by former council woman Genevieve Datsi who resigned to run for the Chairperson’s position.

Canyon Records recording artist Kelvin Bizahaloni played the traditional flute as the convention center began seating and during the banquet as well. Bizahaloni released a new CD on the day of the inauguration.

Outgoing Chairwoman Jane Russell-Winiecki spoke briefly and shared the moment with the audience. As she returned to her table, she was honored with a standing ovation.

Vice Chairman Larry Jackson, Sr. whose term ended this evening as well was unable to attend as he was scheduled for a church meeting in Pasadena, California during the inauguration.

One other council member’s term ended as well: Siera Russell.

Other tribal leaders in attendance were Mryon Lizer, Vice President of Navajo Nation, Bernadine Burnette, Tribal Chairperson of the Ft. McDowell Yavapai Tribe, Paul J. Russell, Vice Chairman of Ft. McDowell Yavapai Tribe,  and Jeri DeCola, Chairperson of the Tonto Apache Tribe in Payson. In addition, two state representatives from the Arizona Legislature and staff members from the Arizona Inter-tribal council were in attendance.


YAN News photographs



YAN members trained to be Tribal Monitors: Not all pictured are Yavapai-Apache Nation members.

They represent other Indian nations in Arizona.

By Don Decker, YAN News   06/25/2019

Trainees from the Yavapai-Apache Nation are Gabriella Jackson, Anna Jackson (standing), Rachel Evans Beauty, Dawn Rocha and Olivia McMahon all of MIddle Verde/Camp Verde

In a 3-way cooperative venture among the Southwest Consulting Associates of Flagstaff, the Tonto National Forest and Resolution Mining Company, 6 YAN members have been trained to conduct land surveys involving mapping and recording ancestral sites and “places of cultural significance”.

The tribal monitors are trained and gain all of the knowledge to assess and survey public lands. This is usually done in cases such as a new highway that is to be constructed on pieces of land that may have archeological sites. This assures the protection of ancestral sites and in some cases, may require the re-routing of a roadway to accommodate the preservation of a historical site.

Six members from the Nation, Anna Jackson, Rachel Evans Beauty, Dawn Rocha, Olivia McMahon, Gabriella Jackson and Vincent Hood are members of this team. Most of the work is conducted in Maricopa, Pima and Gila county.

So far, 30 tribal cultural specialists have been trained since 2018 under the Tonto National Forest Tribal Monitor Program under the direction of Nanebah Nez Lyndon from the Tonto National Forest Office in Payson.

The Indian communities participating include Yavapai-Apache Nation, White Mountain Apache, Ak-Chin Community, Mescalero Apache Tribe, Gila River Community, Hopi Tribe, and Pueblo Of Zuni. The Zunis have a small parcel of land near St. Johns, Arizona which is considered part of Arizona Indian tribal land.

The noon luncheon recognized the special achievements of the monitoring team and

Vincent Randall, Apache culture director was special guest and speaker at the luncheon held at the Hassayumpa Hotel in Prescott. The Tonto National Forest is also working on the preservation of Gamble Oak trees which produces the acorn nut that Apache use in cooking. Efforts are being made to propagate the trees in hopes of preserving the longevity of the Gamble Oak acorn groves according to Mr. Randall.

The acorn groves appear on maps that start in upper central Arizona mountains and continue down into central Mexico high chapparal country and into western Texas.

YAN News photos


YAN member photojournalist captures Indian country:

A story by Alejandro Rubio   03/04/19

Moccasins worn by Luka Montgomery Gomez at the Sherman, Nevada pow-w0w. (photo by Alejandro Rubio)

CARSON CITY, Nev. — I didn’t receive my first pair of Apache boots until I was 14 years old, and it was the greatest day of my life. These beautiful boots were made and beaded by my grandmother, Elizabeth. They were white with yellow and green beading that wrapped around the top foot and around the top the boot. I was running for Miss Teen for the Yavapai-Apache Nation and was given these boots, along with a beautiful white buckskin dress that also had yellow and green beading. My grandmother was very talented and had also beaded my T-Necklace to go along with my attire.

I won the title for Miss Teen, allowing me to travel to other tribes to help represent my nation — and that put a lot of stress on my attire. I would lose beads, buckles and strands, and my clothing had holes in it. My grandmother, who loves to travel, took me to all the events that I had to attend. She would help and show me how to repair my attire. As for my boots, they were getting too worn out, and we didn’t have time to repair them. You can see how much I had traveled with them, and see all the love I have given them.

When I told my grandma that they were starting to get holes in them, she just smiled and told me, “Those are not holes — those are travel marks. Each mark tells a story of how much you love yourself and your culture. These marks show how much time and effort you have put into your heart for your ancestors. They are very proud of you right now. ”

As I got older, I learned more about my nation’s culture, from both the Yavapai and the Apache sides. I learned the language, as well as how to bead, sew dresses and cook. But it wasn’t until I had my daughter that I learned how to make my first set of Apache boots. After completing them, the feeling that came over me was like no other — I felt proud, and most of all I felt complete.

Learning how to make moccasins was the best gift that I could ever have in life. As my daughter got older, I taught her how to make her own pair of Apache boots, so she could be able to run for Miss Princess for our nation — and she won!

As she came to me one day, she has told me, “My boots has holes in them.” My reply: “Those are not holes — those are travel marks. Each mark tells a story of how much you love yourself and your culture. These marks show how much time and effort you have put into your heart for your ancestors. They are very proud of you right now.”

Now, when I’m out gathering, I’m always catching myself looking at everyone’s moccasins. I can see how many travel marks they have. I see socks and toes coming out; I see beads missing, strands missing; I can see the color of the beads fading. Most of all, I can see all the love that was put into their boots.

My advice is to love your moccasins and boots, and don’t be embarrassed to show them just because they have holes and they are torn up. Be proud of your travel marks, because they show how much you’re proud to be a Native American.

Editor’s note:

Alejandra Rubio (Yavapai-Apache), daughter of Darlene Rubio of Camp Verde and Rogelio  Rubio, is a graphic design artist for Swift Communications, which publishes First Nation’s Focus.

To illustrate her story, Alejandra Rubio attended the 2018 Stewart Father’s Day Powwow this past June in Carson City, where she took the images of traditional moccasins.

Her grandmother is Elizabeth Rocha of Camp Verde. The elder Rocha co-wrote the Apache dictionary for the Apache community which is in the process of being published.  website


Three new YAN council members installed on October 4, 2018

By Don Decker, YAN News

New council members stand with YAN Election Judge Brian Marquez (r). Nancy Guzman (L), Amanda Honwytewa and Henry Smith

Over 100 people arrived to the council chambers to meet the newly installed council members, Nancy Guzman, Henry Smith and Amanda Honwytewa October 4, Thursday on the Yavapai-Apache Nation.

After brief remarks from Chairwoman Jane Russell-Winiecki and Vice Chairman Larry Jackson, Sr. (with an Opening Prayer and highlighting some of Wilma Mankiller’s notable quotes about ‘Inspiration’ and ‘Wisdom’ bound to leadership), Brian Marquez, Election Board Chief Judge Marquez welcomed the community and the new council members that were to be installed.

Mr. Marquez administered the Oath of Office to the 3 new council members. After the Oath of Office, Mr. Marquez made some remarks about having the new council members step forward and share their thoughts about their moment in time getting elected and being installed.

The New Council Members

All of the new council member gave special acknowledgement to their families.

Henry Smith recalled the times when as a youngster, he attended many of the council meetings that his father, Norman Smith conducted while serving on the council. Henry also gave special acknowledgement to his late grandfather Ernest Smith who inspired him.

New council member Henry Smith is joined by his wife (l) and mother, Priscilla Smith (far left) with Brian Marquez, (far right) who is the Election Board Judge for the Nation.

“I’m grateful to have parents like I have,” he said as he also mentioned his mother, Priscilla contributing to his perseverance and accomplishments. It was the teachable moments by his parents that instilled in him to succeed he said.

The large audience clap for the newly installed council members.

“I just want to thank everybody that came out—for the trust—that I can do the right thing for our people,” said Mr. Smith.

Amanda Honwytewa one of the three new council member signs her Oath of Office as husband and child looks on. Brian Marquez , Election Board Chief, confirms the signature.

Another new council member, Amanda Honwytewa greeted the audience in her native Yavapai.

She also credited her family for the journey that she has made so far.

“I just want to say ‘thank you’ for all the support and I really mean that, for all the people that came out…I appreciate everything—my family, my mother and her family. I want to lead responsibly and that’s why I’m here—to lead with compassion and responsibility.”

Nancy Guzman signs on as her husband stands next to her. Brian Marquez, Election Board Chief acknowledges the signature.

Current YAN council member Genevieve Datsi (r) congratulates Nancy Guzman newest council member of YAN.

Nancy Guzman, the third council member was also appreciative of the support from the community.
“I am honored to stand before you again and to all who supported me in one way or other. I really appreciate it. It was a hard decision. I said ‘let the young ones run’ but others said, ‘You need to run’.  I just want to thank all of you that have helped me in the very way that you have. You pushed me to get out there and campaign,” said Mrs. Guzman.

Administration Executive Officers Larry Jackson, Sr. Vice Chairman (L) is joined by new council members Nancy Guzman, Amanda Honwtewa, Chairwoman Jane Russell-Winiecki and Henry Smith

Mrs. Guzman recalls the time when she had self-doubt about running when she sought solitude in the bedroom and shut the door and prayed about her circumstances and said, ‘Lord, I’ll put the election in your hands. If it’s meant for me to be here, let it be so, but if it’s not meant to be, help me to accept my loss’, she recalled.

Mrs. Guzman concluded her remarks by saying, “Every decision that we make (as a council) will affect you one way or another. We can’t please everybody but we have to have our decisions on what life has given us.”

The final official procedure was signing the Oath of Office document administered by the Election Board Chief Brian Marquez .

The newly installed council members were greeted by the community and a reception was held for them in the council chambers. Later, the 3 new council members shared a meal together at the recreation center with community members.

YAN News Photos


Summer WIOA worker Jacob Miles of Globe aims high

By Don Decker, Yavapai-Apache Nation News/Camp Verde   07/23/18

Yavapai-Apache Nation member Jacob Miles, 16, is completing 4 weeks of work experience this summer ’18 under the auspices of the WIOA (Work Innovation Opportunities Act), a work training program on the Yavapai-Apache Nation in Camp Verde. Jacob is a resident of Globe, Arizona.

Jacob Miles is a mover and a shaker at Globe High School.

Jacob gained valuable insights about work experience this summer as he answered the Human Resource’s office phone and filed papers.

Jacob is the son of Cari Lewis of Globe and Dylan Miles and grandson to Evelyn Lewis of Globe as well. Jacob also has 2 brothers- Isiah,17, who  worked in the  parks this summer  under the same program as Jacob—the WIOA program and an older brother, Marques, 19, also of Globe.

Jacob’s uncle, Glen Lewis, Jr. resides in Camp Verde where Jacob is staying during his work experience program for the summer. Marcella James and Dale Miles of San Carlos are his other grandparents. In addition, the late Glen Lewis. Sr. and Nora Hans were his Camp Verde grandparents.

This coming fall Jacob will be in the 11th grade at the Globe High School (The Tigers) where he has made great strides in accomplishing his career goals.

This day, he is at work on the Yavapai-Apache Nation in Camp Verde and he dresses professionally sporting a traditional bow tie unlike many teenagers who show up to work in t-shirts. He has good work ethics and puts in 32 hours a week for 4 weeks at $10 an hour.

“I’m buying an IPad with it,” he says assuredly. Jacob has big plans and already, he is part of the Governor’s Youth Commission (GYC) as secretary of that organization that has frequent meetings in Phoenix. “The GYC is a group of teens around Arizona that goes to the communities and tries to make a public impact. Last year I did a toy drive and started my own club in high school that addressed bullying and suicide prevention,” says Jacob. Jacob’s Globe members have raised money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Every 3 months Jacob makes a trek along with his peers to the Phoenix capitol for a council meeting with GYC to hash out issues and plan for events. “It’s up to you what you want to do with it. I volunteered to pick trash in Globe,” he says. At the Phoenix meetings there are several high profile organizations that come and talk to Jacob’s group about civic volunteer duty. “It’s about what we can do and how we can help”, he adds. Jacob is definitely not apathetic nor uncaring.

It’s a story of the saying how ‘one thing led to another’.  At Globe High School he has run for student council 2 years in a row and “lost the election” he says. Jacob lost because Jacob had an agenda about suicides and substance abuse and how he is committed to putting a stop to it.

He says that his campaign poster featured the title “13 reasons why to vote for Jacob Miles” that was recommended by his supporters. The catch phrase was based on a Netflix series entitled ’13 reason why’ which also featured stories about teen suicides. Some of the students thought the campaign posters title was inappropriate and chastised Jacob for it. However, Jacob says the series “… poorly portrayed what suicide really is”.

Jacob had good intentions though and has never retreated from it.

Not all was lost as Jacob listed the number of a suicide hotline on his campaign posters. And from this incident of misunderstanding about a campaign poster and losing the student council election that Jacob’s name was recommended to the Governor’s Youth Committee where he is still a member to this day.

“There have been many suicides in the Globe-Miami and San Carlos area during last year,” he points out. It’s a matter not taken lightly by him.

Ask him what his favorite school subject is and he responds that it’s math. And it’s not arithmetic but hardcore college credit math that is taught by the host Gila Pueblo Community College based in Globe. “They come to the school and teach,” he says about the Math 100/200 that he took last year that offered a myriad of math topics/problems that may involve algebra, business statistics, geometry and exponential functions. To boot, he will be enrolling in Math 140, English 101 (freshmen comp) and participating in a certificate program to become a medical assistant this school year that is offered through the Cobre Valley Institute of Technology in Globe.

This summer, during the time that he was employed under the WIOA program at Yavapai-Apache Nation in Camp Verde, Jacob took a 1-week break and attended at one week medical summer camp at Arizona State University to learn about medical career options. It was here that his career horizon was broaden by a speaker at the camp who is the educational director for the Southern Arizona Health Education and is a graduate of Columbia University in NYC with a Master’s Degree in Public Health.

That person promises to write a letter of recommendation for Jacob to attend Columbia University after Jacob finishes up at Globe High.

“It’s my number one choice since I was in middle school to study bio-chem and go to medical school to be a cardiac-surgeon,” he says. Most people Jacob’s age are mostly interested in listening to Justin Bieber and keeping tabs on endless hours of Face Book accounts.

Jacob is really on a different track. He took biology this past year and whizzed by with an ‘A’ and next up is his first year in chemistry, one of the many chemistry classes he will have to take to become a medical doctor.

Back in Globe, Jacob spends time hanging out at the Vida E Caffe’ located on east Broadway Street on the main drag of Globe where Jacob likes to sip cappuccino and listen to musicians. It’s sort of an avant garde place with paintings and photographs hanging on the wall, a European coffee house in a mining town that serves the purpose of bringing like-minded people there like Jacob. This is where gaming competitions are held with video games and a great music venue like open mike on Saturday nights. It’s also the same exterior building used in the movie production of the ‘The Great White Hope’ with James Earl Jones filmed in 1970.

“Living in Globe is a little boring but you can find things to do. There’s a lot of perks like the movie (theater),” he quips about the lone theater on main street in Globe.

His other pastime is playing classical piano and taking lessons for the past 9 years. “I have a private teacher in Globe who teaches jazz and classical,” he says. For now, his recital piece is ‘The River Flows in You’ written by new Japanese composer Yiruma seen on

Jacob, Apache Indian, has his sights on becoming a medical doctor and the summer work experience was a good start for him and seeing successful people who work for the Nation that give him good role models.


Photo by Don Decker, Gahnavah-Yati News

Yavapai-Apache Nation-Arizona


Nation’s member receives Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Social Work.

By Don Decker, YAN News  06/05/18 (updated photo)

Dr. Tahnee Baker of YAN celebrated confirmation of her Phd.

Former director of social services for the Yavapai-Apache Nation in Camp Verde, Arizona Dr.Tahnee Baker completed her doctoral dissertation and met her requirement for a doctoral degree in the School of Social Work from Arizona State University this May, 2018.

Dr. 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. Dr. 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.

Dr. 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 properly defended her dissertation in 2018.

Dr. Tahnee Baker at graduation exercises at the Wells Fargo Arena, Arizona State University.

Dr. 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 last year, she received permission from the Nation’s council to conduct a qualitative research study with YAN tribal members who have graduated from college.

“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 entitled “Exploration of Historical Trauma among Yavapai-Apache Nation College Graduates.”  Dr. Baker was 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. Dr. Baker is proud and thankful to have had strong female mentors to guide her through her academic journey.

Dr. 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.

Dr. Baker  also incorporated Indigenous research methodologies within the dissertation that she completed. 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 Dr. Baker  studied, most importantly,  she highlighted 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 Dr. 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.  Dr. Baker expressed 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: Dr. Baker contacted Gahnavah-Yati News April 23 announcing confirmation of her Doctor of Philosophy degree.


 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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