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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

From the Arizona Republic, 9/15/03:

History or derogatory? Sign riles Camp Verde

Mark Shaffer
Republic Flagstaff Bureau
Sept. 15, 2003 12:00 AM

CAMP VERDE -- Kathy Davis did a slow burn every time she passed through downtown and saw the prominent historical marker about frontier Fort Verde, which referred to it as protecting settlers against "hostile Indians."

So, when Davis was recently transferred by the National Park Service to Camp Verde to become superintendent of Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot national monuments, she vowed to do something about it.

Davis said she told an intergovernmental gathering in Camp Verde in July that the "word 'hostile' is derogatory to me and I'm not even Native American" and offered to pay to have the word removed. Instead, the town took the sign down two weeks later.

Now, the Camp Verde Historical Society, which helped erect the sign in the first place, is up in arms.

The group has collected 400 signatures from townfolk demanding that the historical marker be returned to its site on Main Street with the words "hostile Indians" intact.

"I just don't want to see history changed," Vaudene Glotfelty, 78, said of the 43-year-old sign. "No one complained about that sign until Kathy came here and she's a newcomer."

Glotfelty said the sign was removed during the 1980s because of the same complaints about the wording. She said that two historical society members had found it in storage and put it up again two years ago.

Glotfelty, who said she was born in Fort Verde's officers' quarters before it became a state park and now lives in a home adorned with finely woven Navajo rugs, said she knows hostility when she sees it.

Suggestion for wording

"My husband was a school superintendent at Tuba City and Whiteriver for 10 years. We heard stories of Indian hostilities back in the 1800s all the time when we were up there. Heck, everyone was hostile to everyone else during that time," Glotfelty said.

Tony Gioia, a Camp Verde town councilman, said the sign "could be worded better . . . just a slight rewording would probably ease everyone's feelings."

In a prepared statement, Jamie Fullmer, chairman of the neighboring Camp Verde Yavapai-Apache Nation, had a quite different take on who the hostiles were.

"If our elders were invited to share their stories of the inhuman cruelties perpetrated on their families by U.S. military forces, only the hardest of hearts could come away with a dry eye," Fullmer said. A large percentage of the Yavapai and Apache races in the Verde Valley died as a result of the frontier wars and during a 180-mile march in a forced relocation from the area to the San Carlos Reservation in the late 1800s.

Fullmer also said that it is "of significant interest to us that the seemingly trivial matter of one word on a sign can so elegantly capsulize everything that is at the core of the ongoing racial tension in the Verde Valley."

The tribe and town of Camp Verde have been at loggerheads in recent years over a sand and gravel operation, which the tribe operates within town limits.

Davis also has raised a stink about a book sold on the shelves of Fort Verde's bookstore called Fort Verde: An Era of Men and Courage.

In describing Native Americans of the late 1800s during the frontier wars, the short historical overview of the fort refers repeatedly to "hostile Indians," "renegades," "marauding Apaches," and "wily thieves."

Outdated language

Janet Hawks, operations chief for Arizona State Parks, said the book was removed from the bookshelves Friday.

"I agree that some of the language in it was outdated," Hawks said. "But it's a very valuable book and the only one printed about Fort Verde exclusively. We hope to have some editing changes and it back on the shelves shortly."

Reach the reporter at mark.shaffer@arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-8057.

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