Rose Garden PhotographsViola Sica-tuva (Pelhame) Jimulla was born on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation and was named Sica-tuva, "Born Quickly," by her parents, Who-wah, "Singing Cricket" and Ka-hava-soo-ah, "Turquoise Bead in Nose." She did not have a birth certificate and chose June 15 as her birth date in 1878. She took the name Viola and her stepfather's last name, Pelhame, when she attended Rice Indian School and Phoenix Indian School.

Viola married Sam "Red Ants" Jimulla in 1901 and came to Prescott, Arizona Territory. They had five daughters: Daisy (1902-1902), Grace (Mrs. Don) Mitchell (1902-1976), Lucy (Mrs. Jim) Miller (1906-1984), Amy Vaughn Gazzam (1912-1940), and Rosie (1913-1914). 

She was a master basket weaver, and one of her designs has been adopted by the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe as their tribal seal. During the Great Depression, Viola taught the Yavapai women the art of basket weaving, and they made hundreds of baskets. Some of the early baskets are part of the collection at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., while others are on display at the Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott.

Viola’s husband, Sam, became chief of the Yavapais in Prescott in the mid-1930s.  Upon the accidental death of her husband in 1940, Viola became chieftess of the Yavapai –Prescott Indian Tribe. She said, "I had to help my people in whatever they needed." She became everything from a mother confessor to a financial advisor to her people.

Her ability to care for and work with both the Indian and Anglo cultures had a long lasting benefit for her people and for the greater Prescott area. During the 1930s, the Jimullas worked with local and national officials to set aside seventy-five acres of land for the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Reservation. Through the leadership of Sam and Viola Jimulla, the only reservation solely for the Yavapai was established. In the 1950s, the reservation was enlarged to 1,395 acres.

In addition to leading her tribe, Viola was active in the Presbyterian Church.  She was the first Yavapai to be baptized at the (Presbyterian) Yavapai Indian Mission in 1922.  Viola served as an elder, a Sunday school superintendent and an interpreter for the Yavapai Presbyterian Mission.  In 1945, at Viola’s request, the first annual Southwest Indian Bible Conference was held in Prescott.  She and other members of the Yavapai Presbyterian Mission were responsible for naming the present Trinity Presbyterian Church.

In 1948, the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe filed a land claim for 9.2 million acres taken from the tribe in 1873. Viola served as interpreter during the court proceedings.  As leader of her tribe, she urged her people to withdraw part of the claim to the land that was the Fort Whipple reservation with the stipulation that it be used for a college and a city park. The results are Yavapai College and Roughrider Park. A plaque at Yavapai College reads: "Homage to Viola Jimulla, Yavapai Basketmaker 1878-1966."

Two of Viola's daughters, Grace Mitchell and Lucy Miller, also became Yavapai Tribe chieftesses. Later, her granddaughter, Patricia McGee, served as president of the Yavapai- Prescott Indian Tribe.  Also, represented in the Territorial Women’s Memorial Rose Garden is Viola's mother, Who-Wah Pelhame and her daughter Grace (Jimulla) Mitchell.

Viola was inducted into the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame in 1986. A statue of Viola teaching basketry to her granddaughter, Patricia, is in the lobby of the Prescott Resort.  Prescott Meals on Wheels honored Viola by naming their dining facility, "The Viola Jimulla Dining Room" in the Rowle P. Simmons Community Center in Prescott.

Viola died on December 7, 1966, and was buried on the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Reservation. 

Donor: Sharlot Hall Museum Rose Garden Committee
Photo Location: RGC MS-39, Box I-L, F-Jimulla, Viola
Updated:  4/30/2015; Gretchen Hough Eastman