Dr. Carlos Montezuma born in 1865 was captured along with his two sisters by an enemy tribe and then sold to an Italian immigrant and photographer, Carlos Gentile, for $30. Given the birth name “Wassaja,” which means signal or beckon, Gentile renamed him Carlos Montezuma and they moved to Chicago and eventually to New York.
Montezuma mastered the demanding field of chemistry and earned a bachelor’s degree and wrote a 17-page thesis entitled “Valuation of Opiums and Their Products.” He graduated from the Chicago Medical School in 1889 and is recognized as the first American Indian M.D.
Twenty years before his death, Carlos Montezuma rediscovered his Yavapai roots. During this period, he emerged as one of the foremost American Indian leaders in the U.S. fighting for the water rights of the Yavapai Nation.
In 1916 he began the Wassaja newsletter, advocating for American Indian rights. In the summer of 1922 Montezuma learned he had contracted tuberculosis, and after publishing the final edition of Wassaja, he returned to Fort McDowell in December 1922. Montezuma remained in bed or on the dirt floor of a brush shelter constructed near some friends’ dwellings for the final weeks of his life, with Yavapai leader and close friend George Dickens keeping a fire roaring. With his wife Marie by his side, Montezuma passed away on January 13, 1923.
Donating to the Fund
In 2011, the Department of Family and Community Medicine established the Montezuma Endowment Fund with the blessing of the Ft. McDowell Yavapai Community. The initial endowment started with $500,000.00 to establish a “Chair” or professorship, a position that will be filled by a scholar to address key health problems through research, teaching, and service that will contribute to improving the health of native people. Contributions to the fund can be made by contacting Mr. Thomas Melendez at 520-626-4961, or via e-mail at tmelende [at] email [dot] arizona [dot] edu
Beautiful Bahti Indian Arts fetishes benefit NARTC and the Montezuma Endowment FundBahti Indian Arts
has graciously offered beautiful Corn Maiden fetishes, crafted by Talia Quandelacy, for sale at their store, and all proceeds benefit the Montezuma Endowment Fund. Please click here for Bahti's contact and location information
, and click here to see these beautiful fetishes
(displayed at the bottom of the page).