The Pinal Mountains are, and always have been, central to the inhabitants of this area. They are a true oasis surrounded by a harsh desert. For centuries their water, flora, and fauna have sustained human life here.
About 1150 a fascinating, but now long-vanished, pueblo culture developed commercial centers that traded the area's original first coveted commodity, turquoise, from central Mexico to southern Utah and Colorado. This culture, the Salado, also worked native copper into bells that were also widely traded. By the middle 1400s, however, the culture began to disintegrate, probably because of internal strife caused by drought and environmental degradation. Many archaeologists believe the Salado completely abandoned the area and moved south, possibly to merge with the Papago/Pima (today's O'Odham) people, who still live in the southern Arizona region.
After the Salado retreated, the Yavapai Indians settled in the southern parts of the Pinals, and somewhat to the west. They called the mountains Walkame, or "pine mountains."
The Athabascan Apaches also settled in the Pinal Mountain region at this time, to the east and north. They called the mountains Dzi£ Nnilchí' Diyiléé, or "pine-burdened mountain."
When the Spanish arrived in greater numbers in the 17th century, they translated the Indian terms into "pinal," which means "stand of pine trees" in Spanish.
The Pinal Mountains today are a part of the Tonto National Forest and retain much of their early character. Their rugged beauty is a much-appreciated factor of the "good life" in this area.
Return to Arizona History Page
Return to Zybt's Homepage