by Aaron Moss, Cliff Castle Casino
The Yavapai-Apache Nation and the Town of Camp Verde entered into an intergovernmental agreement June 16 over future management and development of land the Nation is working to obtain as part of a land exchange with the U.S. Forest Service.
The Nation will transfer certain nonreservation lands it owns to the Forest Service in exchange for ancestral lands adjacent to the Nation’s Middle Verde Reservation. These lands are a small part of the larger reservation established for the Nation by President Grant in 1871.
That reservation was lost in 1875 when the U.S. forcibly removed the Yavapai and Apache from their Verde Valley home to imprisonment at San Carlos.
The intergovernmental agreement formalizes a process for continued cooperation between Camp Verde and the Nation on future development projects within the exchange lands, providing that existing roads, utility and other easements will be maintained on any lands added to the Nation’s reservation.
The agreement also cements the Nation’s support for the town’s potential acquisition of up to 40 acres of land along General Crook Road to develop new public safety facilities to improve emergency response times.
The town will benefit from collecting retail sales tax revenues from private, nontribal developments on the Nation’s new lands. The Nation will contribute 1% of its sales tax revenues to Camp Verde, on sales generated within the 1,200-acre portion of the new lands designated as the Yavapai-Apache—Camp Verde Economic Development Corridor.
The Yavapai-Apache Nation is a significant employer in Camp Verde, boasting best-in-class establishments, namely Cliff Castle Casino and Hotel, which draws visitors from near and far, year-round, for traditional Indian gaming, world renowned entertainment and general tourism.
“The recognition of our history of land loss and the future return to the Nation of a small part of our original homeland is critical to the well-being of the Yavapai-Apache Nation,” said Vice Chairwoman Tanya Lewis. “This is a humbling, historic event for our communities to work together for a better tomorrow for generations to come.”
The Nation’s Attorney General Scott Canty said, “The Yavapai-Apache Nation leadership has always known that land was crucial for the Nation to develop, grow, prosper and provide for its people; the path was set long ago, and it was through the determination of the Nation’s leaders that today’s agreement with the Town was made possible.”