One of the sites visited during a recent “drive-about” was Rock Art Ranch south of the area between Winslow and Holbrook. I think the canyon we visited is now called Bell Cow Canyon.
Kokopelli, the flute player, beaver, eagle, and various hoofed and horned ungulates decorate the canyon walls with what might have been mystical or magical depictions. Or perhaps it was an art studio. Interpretation is always problematic or so I learned in school. I also learned when studying kinship that paternity is always problematic for the anthropologist to sort out. Kinship is reckoned differently by different people. And then there is deceit. Women sometimes choose not to share the identity of their lovers.
No matter what, though, women have birthed babies. Very few pre-literate societies have preserved images of birth. Conjecture about whether an image is one of fertility or fecundity, a prayer or blessing, a metaphor or giving thanks cannot be known.
No image out of prehistory is more evocative, at least to my mind, than the Hisotsinom petroglyph of the Birthing Woman.
Perhaps the Hopi elders know some of the intent of their ancestors, they still visit places on the ranch. Brantley Baird, the rancher who guides visitors through the material collections that evidence of thousands of years of human occupation, including regular visits by Hopi leaders, the last being only a few weeks ago, knows that as the current land-owner he joins a long line of tenants on this little bit of Earth who cherish it, and whose descendants continue to respect the land and lives that came into being there.
We are all children of the rocks and birthing women.
To find out more about the artists, as best we know, I suggest reading the report from the 2014 University of Arizona Rock Art Ranch Field School.