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Fort McDowell Indian Reservation

Fort McDowell Indian Reservation is centrally

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located within Maricopa County, about 23 miles northeast of

the Phoenix metropolitan area. At an elevation of 1,350 feet, the

topography ranges from tree-lined river bottom to cactus-studded

rolling desert. Created by Executive Order on September 15, 1903,

the 24,680-acre reservation is home to the Yavapai, Mohave-Apache

and Apache Indians. The reservation is only a small parcel of

land, which was once, considered ancestral territory of these nomadic

bands of people who hunted and gathered food in Central Arizona

and the Mogollon Rim country.

Fort McDowell was named after General Irwin McDowell. The reservation

post was one of the most important outposts in the southwest

during the Apache Wars between 1865 and 1891.

The Fort McDowell Indian community was the home of one of the

first known advocates of human rights, Dr. Carlos Montezuma

Whssaja. As a child, he was stolen by Pima Indians and sold to an

Italian photographer who took him to Chicago and provided for him

an education in medicine. Later in his life, he fought for Native

American rights and other issues. At the same time, he became a

leading force to regain the Yavapai-Apache homeland. Soon there-after,

he died on the Fort McDowell Mohave-Apache Indian

Reservation, in a traditional Wickiup, from tuberculosis.

The community’s economy is closely tied to the surrounding communities

of Rio Verde, Fountain Hills, Mesa, Scottsdale and Phoenix.

Large employers include a tribally operated gasoline station, Fort

McDowell Yavapai Farm and Verde River Recreational Park area

development. The economy is also supplemented by grants from the

Federal government.

Two of the major economic development programs initiated by the

tribe are the Fort McDowell Gaming Center and Fort McDowell

Sand and Gravel. Other sources of revenue are businesses which

lease land from the tribe including Fountain Hills L.P. Gas, Fountain

Hills Concrete, Inc., City of Phoenix, Arizona Department of

Transportation, Cowboy Adventure Trail Horseback Riding, and Out

of Africa Wildlife Park.

The swift-moving current of the Verde River, which spans the entire

length of the reservation, provides a cool change from the hot summer

for city dwellers who come to float downriver on inner tubes.

The tall cottonwoods along the riverbanks provide picnic areas, and

fishing holes. The reservation is also an excellent hunting area.

Further outdoor activities are available at the nearby Tonto and

Coconino National Forests that include towering saguaros and pine-covered

mountains with numerous lakes. The community celebrates

Orme Dam Recognition Day in November, and Sovereignty Day each

May.  The nearby Phoenix metropolitan area offers a variety of activities,

ranging from professional sports to major cultural events.

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