The renovation of the Apache exhibit at the Rim Country Museum completed in mid-June offers a fascinating glimpse of the tragic challenges and the eventual triumph of persistence that had marked the long history of the Tonto Apache Tribe.
New information and items were added to the exhibit, with emphasis upon the history of the Tonto Apaches of Payson.
The pre-reservation display reflects the lifestyle of the Apaches in this area before the white settlers arrived. It features a gowah (shelter) in a camp setting with various types of baskets, a cradleboard, drum, mano and metates, and arrow shaft straighteners.
Across from this display, an entire wall is devoted to the story of the Tontos.
It begins with The Reservation Years during which many of them were confined at Camp Verde and later at San Carlos. The Long Journey Home shares the story of the return to their former camps ... only to find them occupied by white settlers. It notes their settlements on a parcel at East Verde, on Indian Hill in Payson and eventually on forest land at the south end of town (which became known as The Camp). The story continues with the struggle to obtain land for the Tonto Apaches in Payson ... and the eventual signing of a bill into law by President Richard Nixon in 1972 granting them title to an 85-acre reservation.
A visit to the renovated exhibit will provide more information about their story, as well as share new items not previously on display. The Apache exhibit is a permanent exhibit at Rim Country Museum and honors our community friends and neighbors, the Tonto Apache Tribe.