The Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe (YPIT) is located on 1,395 acres of beautiful gently rolling hills and is bordered on three sides by the city of Prescott in central Arizona. Before 1860, the three groups of Yavapai numbered several thousand and lived on their 9 million acre territorial homelands. Today, there are approximately 150 tribal members of the Yavapai Prescott group; a majority reside on the reservation.
Back in the 1900s, the Yavapai Prescott Indian Reservation was established with 75 acres. The government issued 2 cows to each family as a source of future income. The tribe’s herd sizebegan to increase which led to an additional 1,320 acres established as reservation land. In the 1960s, the number of tribal livestock producers dwindled.
Back in 2002, the Yavpe’ Ma’ta (Yavapai Land) Company purchased 1,240 acres in their traditional territory, Skull Valley, with the intentions of running a cow / calf operation. With Arizona being in a drought and the previous landowner overgrazing the area, the Tribe rested the land for a few years before introducing cattle onto it.
About 9 years ago, the Yavpe’ Ma’ta Ranch Board purchased 10 Brangus cows and bull. Today the herd has grown to 80 cows and 4 bulls with half grazing on their Prescott Reservation. The Tribe seized the opportunity to lease an additional 2,260 acres of BLM and State land that border the Skull Valley operation bringing the total to 3,500 acres of grazing land. Ranch foreman, Arleigh Bonnaha practices rotational grazing, “We’ve got 4 pastures on the ranch and rotation is dependent on cool and warm weather grasses.”
The Ranch foreman and the Tribe’s Ag Consultant, Marc Galeano, know the difficulties of feeding cattle when drought occurs. With Arizona being in a drought status over the last several years the tribal ranch had to supplement its herd with feed and have had to make management decisions for the benefit of the land.
In 2015, the Tribe applied for the USDA, Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Livestock Forage Program (LFP) disaster assistance and were successful in obtaining funding to compensate for their grazing losses.
The funding received kept the ranch from reducing herd numbers by supplementing feed. They’ve reseeded 16 acres of irrigable land with native grass seed for grazing. The Ranch was able to purchase bulk 1,000-pound bales of hay at a discounted price and stockpile it. 100-pound bales were purchased as well from their neighboring sister tribe, the Yavapai Apache Nation in Camp Verde who grow hay on their tribal farm.
The additional resources have helped with planning future programs. The Ranch has set aside 3 steers to feed and butcher for a tribal community event later in 2016. The Tribe’s Ag-Consultant would like to have tribal members sample their grass-fed beef and to show them the potential for the tribe to market “Yavpe’ Beef” and to also open a butcher shop, operated and owned by the tribe.
Teresa Honga | IAC’s Western Region Technical Assistance Specialist | teresa@IndianAgLink.com | 928-302-6835