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Yavapai-Apache Ancestral Painting and Legend

Yavapai-Apache Ancestral Painting and Legend

Verde Valley Ancestral Spiritual Beings Painting by Yavapai-Apache artist David Sine

spiritual beings, Ancestral Puebloans, Yavapai-Apache

Painting by David Sine, Yavapai-Apache elder, historian and storyteller

This painting depicts an ancestral time which occurred from 1100-1450 A.D. in the Verde Valley, Arizona.

“History is an important thing.  We must take the best qualities of the past and leave the rest behind.”  David Sine

I was fascinated by this painting I purchased from David Sine in the mid-1990’s. He told me these were supernatural beings–Holy Ones–who were here on earth at that time.  He said they were supernaturals who could float in the air–they taught his ancestors about religion and healing and then left this earth by walking over a rainbow bridge into another world.

The way the spiritual ones are dressed is similar to today’s Apache crown dancers. According to archaeologists, the Yavapai and Apache people who live here today are not the same people who created the Puebloan culture which dates back more than 12,000 years in this area. Yavapai peoples migrated into the area around 1300, “although their history suggests much earlier” according to the Yavapai-Apache Tribe.

“Some archaeologists place the Tonto-Apache arrival in the Verde Valley around 1450, others such as tribal archaeologist Chris Coder place the arrival up to two-centuries earlier and believes they arrived just after the great regional disruption at the end of the thirteenth century based on Hopi oral traditions.” (www.yavapai-apache.org)

 The Puebloans were primarily farmers; while the Yavapai and Apache were primarily hunter and gatherers. But this is a good example of how over the centuries, much cultural sharing has occurred.

By 1450 A.D. the Ancestral Puebloans were gone from the Verde Valley (Sedona is located in the northern part)–the prehistoric cliff dwellings and village sites of the Colorado Plateau were abandoned by 1300 A.D.

Today’s Hopi people (12 villages in Arizona ) and New Mexico pueblo people (18 pueblos) are the descendants of these ancestral pueblo people (formerly called by archaeologists as the “Anasazi”).


David Sine received a lifetime achievement award and was named Arizona Living Treasure in 1989.

He said in an interview at that time that his focus was in telling the stories to remind his people of their heritage.

“My paintings are based upon the region we are in — the art that existed in that time with the Anasazi and the Mogollon,” Sine said.  “They left these designs to us – designs  you will now find in pottery, jewelry and things made.  I am trying to interpret to the people a respect for these things so that they can be understood.  I took it upon myself to interpret this so that they would understand what the people who lived upon the land before us meant with these images.”

Mr. Sine crossed into spirit world in 2008.

“In our culture the circle symbolizes the cycle of life–one must face the world going away from home and, when life has been completed returning back to one’s land.”