by Blake Herzog
Viola Jimulla was not born on the Prescott Yavapai Indian Tribe’s reservation where she served as its chief for 26 years because she was instrumental in its creation.
She worked with her husband and other local leaders, including Sharlot Hall and Grace M. Sparkes, to organize the effort and lobby Congress for recognition. The tribe started with 75 acres in 1935, with Sam Jimulla as its first chief, and grew to 1,400 acres 20 years later.
Viola took over as chief after Sam died in 1940 because, in her words, “I had to help my people in whatever way they needed.” She was a gentle but effective leader who improved her tribe’s living conditions while carrying on ancient basket weaving and other traditions cherished by her people.
Her tribe’s stipulation that land it gave up its claim to must be used for educational purposes supported the broader community through the creation of Yavapai College’s Prescott Campus.
Women have been serving their communities throughout Greater Prescott’s and Yavapai County’s history to make them a safer, brighter, healthier, more comfortable and humane place to be.
They make laws, start and run businesses, educate, protect us as first responders and health care workers and build, sell and furnish our homes. They provide us delectable, nutritious meals, give us places to relax and be pampered, secure our financial futures, facilitate communication and enliven our environment with art and fashion.
They make our cities and neighborhoods, forests and fields more livable for people and animals alike. These women are leaders because of their intelligence, experience and drive to help their people, in whatever way is needed.
In this issue of Prescott LIVING we pay tribute to many of them while knowing every other woman is a leader in her own way.
Unless noted separately, photos of the women are provided by Blushing Cactus Photography.