Used by permission from the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe
Patricia Ann McGee, granddaughter of Chieftess Viola Jimulla, led the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe as president for 20 years. She followed the family tradition of serving her people by helping the tribe to advance economically while retaining their culture.
Born July 9, 1926 in Holbrook, Patricia Ann Vaughn was raised by her grandmother Viola Jimulla, chieftess of the Yavapai-Prescott tribe from 1940 to 1966. Viola Jimulla was also an Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame inductee in 1986. Patricia McGee’s grandmother taught her the values of integrity and self-reliance, along with the importance of service to her tribe. McGee served on the Yavapai- Prescott tribal board from 1966 to 1972 and as President of the tribe from 1972 to 1988 and 1990 to 1994.
McGee attended the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) School in Valentine, Arizona and graduated high school from Prescott High School. She then attended the Haskell Indian Junior College in Lawrence, Kansas and Prescott College from 1966 to 1969 where she majored in anthropology. She married Ernest McGee, and their marriage lasted until her death. During her working life, she held various positions in the BIA finance division at Truxton, Arizona and later in public health at Peach Springs, Arizona. During the 1960s, she took her grandmother’s advice and returned to Prescott to lead in tribal affairs. In 1966, after her grandmother’s death, she became a tribal council member and then remained in tribal government for nearly 30 years.
Patricia McGee worked for educational programs and economic development for her tribe. In 1984, she secured a $1.2 million grant and persuaded the city of Prescott to issue municipal bonds to finance and build a resort hotel on the Yavapai-Prescott Reservation; this became the Sheraton Resort and later the Prescott Conference Center. McGee led the development of tribal land for the Frontier Village Shopping Center which eventually housed many retail stores and restaurants. In addition, through her leadership, the Yavapai-Prescott tribe signed the first agreement to allow gaming in Arizona.
McGee viewed economic development as a means to achieve improvements in housing, cultural preservation and health care. She prioritized preservation of Yavapai culture, saying that:
“Our young people need to know their own history, culture, tradition, and their own language. This lack of knowing hurts them and you can’t have self-esteem and self-determination without self-knowledge.”
President Nixon appointed McGee to serve on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education. McGee also belonged to the Inter-Tribal Chairman Association of Arizona, and acted as secretary-treasurer of the Indian Development District of Arizona. She testified in Congress for the Water Settlement Act that resulted in her tribe getting additional water allocations. She also helped to create the Yavapai Language Program. Her years of work for the Yavapai-Prescott tribe yielded many benefits. When she died in 1994, tribal members and Prescott citizens lauded her ability to use economic development to further education and cultural preservation.