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Surviving Conquest is a history of the Yavapai Indians, who have lived for centuries in central Arizona. Although primarily concerned with survival in a desert environment, early Yavapais were also involved in a complex network of alliances, rivalries, and trade. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries European missionaries and colonizers moved into the region, bringing diseases, livestock, and a desire for Indian labor. Beginning in 1863, U.S. settlers and soldiers invaded Yavapai lands, established farms, towns, and forts, and initiated murderous campaigns against Yavapai families. Historian Timothy Braatz shows how Yavapais responded in a variety of ways to the violations that disrupted their hunting and gathering economies and threatened their survival. In the 1860s, some stole from American settlements and some turned to wage work. Yavapais also asked U.S. officials to establish reservations where they could live, safe from attack, in their homelands. Despite the Yavapais' successful efforts to become sedentary farmers, in 1875 U.S. officials relocated them across Arizona to the San Carlos Apache Reservation. For the next twenty-five years, they remained in exile but were determined to return home. They joined the commercial Arizona economy, repeatedly requested permission to leave San Carlos, and, repeatedly denied, left anyway, a few families at a time. By 1901 nearly all had returned to Yavapai lands, and through persistence and savvy lobbying eventually received three federally recognized reservations. Drawing on in-depth archival research and accounts recorded in the early twentieth century by a Yavapai named Mike Burns, Braatz tells the story of the Yavapais and their changing world.
Timothy Braatz is an assistant professor of history at Saddleback College.