History

Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation is located within Maricopa County about twenty-three miles northeast of Phoenix. The desert landscape is contrasted by the Verde River, which flows north to south through the reservation. Thirty miles east of Fort McDowell, the Four Peaks rise from the desert floor to an elevation of more than 7,000 feet.

The community was created by Executive Order on September 15, 1903. The 40-square mile reservation is now home to 600 community members, while another 300 live off reservation. The reservation is a small parcel of land that formerly was the ancestral territory of the once nomadic Yavapai people, who hunted and gathered food in a vast area of Arizona's desert lowlands and mountainous Mogollon Rim country.ort McDowell Yavapai Nation is located within Maricopa County about twenty-three miles northeast of Phoenix. The desert landscape is contrasted by the Verde River, which flows north to south through the reservation. Thirty miles east of Fort McDowell, the Four Peaks rise from the desert floor to an elevation of more than 7,000 feet.

The community was created by Executive Order on September 15, 1903. The 40-square mile reservation is now home to 600 community members, while another 300 live off reservation. The reservation is a small parcel of land that formerly was the ancestral territory of the once nomadic Yavapai people, who hunted and gathered food in a vast area of Arizona's desert lowlands and mountainous Mogollon Rim country.

During the early 1990s, the several tribal casinos, including Fort McDowell, were in operation in Arizona. In accordance with the provisions of the federal 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the tribes were waiting to sign gaming compacts with the state government. At the time, however, the governor opposed Indian gaming and called upon the U.S. Attorney's office for support. Unannounced raids by FBI agents on five Indian casinos were ordered.

At the first light of day on May 12, 1992, the agents invaded the Fort McDowell casino seizing the community's 349 gaming machines and loading them into moving trucks. Community members witnessing the raid took immediate action. They called other community members, tribal leaders and the news media. Soon, using every available car, truck, and heavy machinery, a blockade of the casino's access road was organized. The violence, a three-week standoff between tribe and government ensued. The Arizona governor ultimately was persuaded to sign a gaming compact with the tribe, thus paving the way for Indian gaming in Arizona. May 12 is now a tribal holiday.