Native Peoples of Yavapai County

Among my child characters from Barberry Lake, Arizona, are 3 siblings. Zachery James, age 10, and his twin sisters, Helena and Yelena James, age 9. Their maternal grandmother is Jewish, married to a man with ancestry from England. Their paternal grandfather is Native American, married to a woman of European ancestry.

I can get away with saying “European” when the specifics aren’t particularly important (where in Europe is important for some characters, but in this case, we never meet the siblings’ grandparents). For the Native grandparent, I didn’t want to leave things vague.

I looked at maps of native tribes currently in Arizona and the tribe in the area of Barberry Lake is the Yavapai, which is also the name of the county. In 2000, only 1.6% of the county identified as Native American, though presumably many more had NA ancestors. In Arizona as a whole, there are 22 sovereign American Indian communities.

American Indian Reservations and Other Indian Trust Lands Bureau of Indian Affairs Western Region
Arizona Tribal Lands

I found there are two primary Yavapai Nations: Yavapai-Prescott and Yavapai-Apache. (An excellent map is at the Visitor Center.)


The Yavapai-Apache Nation is located in the Verde Valley of Arizona and is comprised of five (5) tribal communities: Tunlii, Middle Verde, Rimrock, Camp Verde and Clarkdale. With 2,440 total enrolled tribal members (December 2014 numbers) with over 750 residents living in the five (5) tribal communities. The Yavapai-Apache Nation consists of two distinct people, the Yavapai and Apache. The Yavapai refers to themselves as Wipuhk’a’bah and speak the Yuman language, while the Apache refer to themselves as Dil’zhe’e and speak the Athabaskan language.

Yavapai Apache Cultural Resource Center


Our Tribe and our ancestors have lived in central and western Arizona for centuries. Today, the Tribe consists of 159 members and occupies a reservation of less than 1,500 acres. Roaming the deserts of the southwest, the Yavapai people are known for their exceptional baskets. Our flag features a unique and historic basket design.

Today, the modern Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe preserves the ancient culture of its ancestors and works diligently to achieve economic independence through numerous tribal enterprises. One of the area’s largest employers, the Tribe is home to a 162-room resort, two casinos, a business park and shopping center.

Barberry Lake is near Prescott, so the Yavapai-Prescott tribe is a more likely candidate for the James family to have descended from. But it’s quite small (fewer than 160 people) and I didn’t want to overlay a fictional family onto a small group.

So the James children just refer to themselves as Yavapai.

1 Comment

  1. Yavapai Dances – Out of Egypt

    December 25, 2020 at 9:12 am

    […] Helena and Yelena, age 9) who are one quarter Jewish and one quarter Native American, from the Yavapai tribe. The girls are ballet dancers back home and therefore pick up other styles of dance quickly. […]

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