Yavapai Men Honored: Arizona Living Treasures
Its not often
that the elders in a community are honored, especially when
it comes to a lifetime achievement award. But for the Yavapai
people, two senior Yavapai Indian artists, Ted Vaughn and David
Sine, have been given such an honor by the state in being named
Arizona Living Treasures.
Arizona Indian Living Treasures Award was established in 1988
in efforts to recognize and honor the lifetime achievements
of Arizona tribal members over the age of 60 who have made contributions
to the arts.
The program was also
designed to educate both non-Indian and Indian communities about
the value and need for continual awareness of the diverse and
unique cultures as expressed through visual and performing arts.
These artists work range from saddle makers to Kachina carvers.
Ted Vaughn is recognized
as a Yavapai silversmith and language teacher and David Sine
as a Yavapai painter.
David Sine is a 76-year-old
full-blood Yavapai. He was born and raised in Clarkdale, but
recalls stories of his youth and the history of the Verde Valley
as if it were yesterday.
saw things coming and happening today," he said. "They
said things would be much better, trouble first, and that we
would be taken off our land, but then things would get much
Sine was right. The
Yavapai-Apache of Camp Verde and Clarkdale were removed from
their designated reservation lands and moved to a prison camp
in southern Arizona. While gone, white man settled on their
property. But today, with casino dollars, the Yavapai-Apache
Nation is reclaiming many of these lands through purchases.
For Sine, the importance of an education to go along with the
responsibility of new money is important.
"I was taught
by my grandmother that I couldnt survive without going
to school and getting along with others and to work hard at
what I was doing. We knew we had to learn to assimilate to the
white-mans culture for us to get anywhere. We were taught
how to fit into society as we couldnt just live off the
"We were always
trying to plan how wed run away - maybe hop a freight
train - but kids who were caught were treated pretty roughly.
I think the schooling has brought us a hell of a long way compared
to where we could be. Without that teaching, we wouldnt
have gotten this far."
Sine attended school
at the Phoenix Indian School. During his junior year, he enlisted
in the Army as an Infantry Man. He went on to fight in World
War II off the Pacific for six years. As most Indians in the
service, he served as a scout in the Pacific Islands. Even through
a fearful experience that left him wounded at one point, having
been shot in both legs, he knew he would survive as his grandmother
had given him blessings before he left.
told me I would go and fight somewhere and it would be dangerous,
but I would be blessed with our medicine and would return to
the land again. After I returned, I went through a purification
ceremony in Boynton Canyon."
Upon returning to
Arizona at the age of 25, Sine decided he wanted to get his
high school diploma so that he could go on to college. He enrolled
at Mingus Union High School in Cottonwood, and despite the teasing,
finished his degree.
"I knew in order
to survive I would need an education," he said. "We
didnt have any money."
he returned to Phoenix to attend business college and learn
accounting. He received his first job in San Carlos, the same
area his ancestors were imprisoned in the late 1800s. On the
side and during weekends, Sine did his art. Between paintings
and murals on churches, the money earned was just enough to
help him purchase more paint and canvases. After he retired,
he moved back to Camp Verde and began to paint full-time.
Yavapai-Apache Nation and Cliff Castle Casino have commissioned
him to paint many of the murals and paintings on display in
their buildings. When looking at Sines work, a story is
told. Images that appear may simply look like as a series of
designs. But the message spoken in a most quintessential form
tells of the respect for a time now gone - a genealogical remembrance
of ancient cultures.
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
His focus, he said,
in telling these stories, is to remind his people, especially
the youth, of their heritage. "Our young people do not
understand why things are done the way they are today. They
dont realize that these things are appreciated around
"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. Young people today are not getting the interpretations
or stories - the legends that were told to us that we based
our politics, religion and way of life on. History is an important
thing. We must take the best qualities of the past and leave
the rest behind."
Ted Vaughn is a 72-year-old
Yavapai elder who lives in Prescott. Born in Los Angeles, he
moved to Arizona before he was three and attended the Fort McDowell
Day School. After getting hurt while riding a half-broke horse,
his grandparents brought him to live with them in Prescott.
From Prescott he attended the Truxton Canyon Boarding School
near Peach Springs. Later he attended Washington Traditional
School in Prescott and Prescott High School. Vaughn has only
a few memories of his childhood.
Vaughn also left
high school to go into the service - for him, the Navy. He spent
eight years in the service and was in the Korean War and World
War II. But upon retrospect, he feels he wouldnt have
joined if he had the proper guidance as a youth.
"I joined the
service to get away from my family," he said. "I wanted
my independence. If I had proper guidance I would have gone
on to college and finished school. I knew I was poor and couldnt
afford preparatory courses then and I didnt know about
As the Golden Gloves
boxing champion in Prescott, Vaughn feels he could have earned
an athletic scholarship.
to remain important to Vaughn though and he earned his G.E.D.
after two years in the service. After returning to the states
and leaving the service, he worked for Indian Health Service
for many years, establishing an x-ray unit on the Hualapai Reservation.
He also worked as a cowboy and rancher. Later he became interested
in flying. This stemmed from a need to get patients from the
reservation to the hospital in a quicker manner.
Vaughn soon began
flying a helicopter for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, patrolling
the Navajo and Hopi joint-use area. While working on the Hopi
Reservation he became interested in silver smithing. He was
told to take a class at Northland College where a Hopi man and
wife taught. There he learned the Hopi style of jewelry making.
"I learned their
style, but I used a high polish on my silver while they used
a dull finish. I was doing contemporary work, too. Then when
I moved to Prescott again in 1981 after finishing my work with
the BIA. I began to study Yavapai mythology and used it in my
Today, in addition
to doing his silver work he also teaches the Yavapai language
to Yavapai in Fort McDowell and in the Verde Valley. Preserving
his culture through stories, history and the language has become
very important to him.
the words of the Yavapai you begin to decipher the history of
the people. We can compare our language to the Paipai in Mexico
and the Supai and discover when the Spaniards came by word differences
and similarities. There are a lot of new words that have been
introduced through time and no words for certain modern technologies.
Because the language is oral, it often gets misconstrued."
Documenting the Yavapai
language, deciphering meaning and sharing his findings are all
a part of his art and contribution to his culture and others
for which he has been honored for.
Both men along with
20 other Arizona Indian Native Treasures gathered last month
during the Cliff Castle Casinos National Indian Festival
where they were honored by their peers.