This Day in History

Nov. 12, 1981: Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and the Orme Dam Victory

Time Periods: Post-Civil Rights Era: 1975 - 2000
Themes: Climate Justice, Environment, Native American
Carolina Butler | Zinn Education Project

Carolina Butler, an opponent of Orme Dam and activist, played a key role in defeating the project. Source: AZ PBS.

After 10 years of organizing and protesting the building of the Orme Dam, on Nov. 12, 1981, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation of Arizona won the struggle when Interior Secretary James Watt announced that Orme Dam would not be built.

The dam was a Central Arizona Project plan that would have flooded more than half the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation reservation, most of their farmland, and the remnants of ancestral homeland.

Each year, a weekend long celebration is held called the Orme Dam Victory Days to commemorate the event. Learn more about this struggle and and more contemporary stories at “Native American Activism: 1960s to Today