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Viola Jimulla (1878-1966)

Inducted in 1986

"All we want Is equal opportunity and the right to take our place as full-fledged Americans." (Viola Jimulla, quoted in 1983 woman of the Year award.)

 

There are many examples throughout history of women who have assumed leadership roles following the death of their politically active husbands. Viola Jimulla, Yavapai Indian Chieftess, is one such remarkable woman. Born in 1878 on the San Carlos Apache Reservation, Viola attended the Phoenix Indian School for several years, then in 1900 went to live with her family in the vicinity of Prescott. She married Sam

Jimulla, raised a family, and became an active part of the tribal community as well as the Prescott community. Her ability to care for and work with both the Indian and Anglo cultures would have a long-lasting benefit for her tribe and for the greater Prescott area.

 

Sam was a leader in a quiet, way, while Viola was full of energy and action. The Jimullas worked with local and national officials to set aside 75 acres of land for a reservation, the Prescott Yavapai Indian Reservation, in 1935. In the 1950s, the reservation was enlarged to 1,327 acres. That same year Sam was appointed chief of the Prescott Yavapai’s by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and was officially elected chief by the tribe. After his accidental death in 1940, Viola became chieftess because in her words, I had to help my people in whatever way they needed."

 

For twenty-six years, until her death in December 1966, Viola guided her tribe with wisdom and kindness. Jimulla's personal strengths and skills helped her people adapt and grow with the surrounding Anglo community. She was a true leader (luring years of changing conditions for Indian tribes and reservations. Her efforts helped the Yavapai’s achieve better living conditions and more modern facilities than most other tribes.

She formed a bridge between tile two cultures, yet she honored the traditions of her tribe. She was ail expert weaver of baskets, she wore the traditional dress of her tribe, and enjoyed preparing her food in the old ways.

 

During her leadership, the Yavapai tribe withdrew its claim to land grants to the old Fort Whipple reservation, with the stipulation that the land be used for a community college and a park. The Prescott campus of tile Yavapai College is now at that site. Jimulla was influential in the religious area, also. She was the first Yavapai to be baptized into the Presbyterian Church. She and others of her tribe revitalized tile Yavapai Indian Mission to become the Presbyterian Mission in 1922. Jimulla served at the mission as an elder, Sunday School superintendent, and interpreter. In 1950 she was a commissioner to the General Assembly of tile United Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati where she made a speech on behalf of the mission. In 1951 the mission became an organized church, and was reorganized in 1957 as the Trinity Presbyterian Church. The church draws its members from both the tribal and Prescott communities.

 

The Prescott Yavapai Tribal Council was formed under Jimulla's leadership to better insure the people's voice in their own governing. Jimulla's line continued to guide her people, as two of her daughters became chieftess in the years following their

mother's death.