Home: Native People in the Southwest Label Copy

HOME: Native People in the Southwest

In the American Southwest, Native people remain connected to the lands that have been their homes for centuries. In HOME, they tell of that connection and how, over time, they have faced change regarding how they live on the land. They have seen change within their families and communities. They have seen change in the language that is spoken at home, and they have made choices about how they will keep important elements of home for future generations.

Native artists express multiple visions of home in their art. The stories of the people who made the art are all different and yet, as Native people, they have a shared history and land, and their stories have common themes for all people. The permanent collection of the Heard Museum is a part of these stories.

From this work, our life is brought forth. Madeline Naranjo, Santa Clara Tewa

Rio Grande and Colorado Plateau Homelands

We were the first peoples that migrated onto this land thousands of years ago, and today we’re still very much a part of what was intended for us. Brian Vallo, Acoma, 2004

The southern Colorado Plateau, at an average height of 5,000 feet, is the highest plateau in North America. Precipitation varies from seven to 13 inches annually and is undependable both in amount and timing. In good years, steady soaking rains of winter are followed by the quick violent storms of summer. On its eastern edge flows the Rio Grande, one of the major rivers of the Southwest. For centuries, people have been drawn to this valley to make homes, especially in times of drought. Colorado Plateau land has 12,000-foot snow-capped mountains and basins as low as 3,000 to 4,500 feet. In the higher elevations, winter is bitterly cold, but in spring, slowly melting snow that soaks into the ground makes life possible. In summer, with temperatures of 80 to 90 degrees, the summer rains are needed for crops.

Home in the New Mexico Pueblos

What I see is my home. I don’t own it but it’s home–the river, the trees, the birds that fly, they’re all mine. Estefanita Martinez, San Juan Tewa

Home for 19 sovereign Pueblo nations means a connection to their land for more than 1,000 years. Homeland for 16 pueblos is primarily in the Rio Grande Valley, with three western pueblo communities at Acoma, Laguna and Zuni. By 1700, all of the present-day pueblos were occupied. The pueblos can be grouped by geography into eight northern pueblos, eight southern and three that are west of the Rio Grande Valley.

Language is important to keep alive a lot of the traditions at my pueblo. Technology and modern times are changing the mindset of everyone who is exposed. Cavan Gonzales, San Ildefonso Tewa

The names by which many people know the pueblos are not the names the residents have for their home villages. Six pueblos have saints’ names, such as San Juan. Yet, in the Tewa language of the people, their community is Ohkay Owingeh, which means “Village of the Strong People.” Many of the names describe a place by which the village is known. Taos or Tu-o-ta in the Tiwa language means “the Place of the Red Willows.” The word “pueblo” itself is a Spanish word that means “village.” Historically, with more than four Native languages in the region plus Spanish and English, Pueblo people have had to be multilingual. For some, the ways of learning have changed from informal family contact to language classes.

Family and Community

Talk to any elder, and they’ll probably identify family as their community. Knowing that you have 6,000 other Acoma people as part of your family, your support mechanism is such a great feeling. Brian Vallo, Acoma

In Tewa, there is no word for “family,” but there is a word for “all of us.” Tessie Naranjo, Santa Clara Tewa

Discussions with Pueblo people about family quickly become talk of community. In the memories of the middle-aged and elderly lives a clear sense of the community working together at planting and harvest, house renovation or construction and supervision of children. Modern conveniences such as electricity and indoor plumbing arrived in the pueblos later than in many non-Native communities. Wage-earning jobs increasingly take people away from the community during the workday. While televisions, telephones and computers bring mainstream society to Pueblo people, parents and community leaders make choices about what changes to embrace and how to preserve traditions.

Ancestral Pueblo


I’m always reminded of the intellect of my people; they knew this earth so well. They knew every inch of the place that they inhabited. They knew the cycles; they knew what the sky was saying to them, the shape of the moon, what that meant. I am so in awe of that. Rachele Agoyo, Cochiti, Santo Domingo

Ancestral Pueblo people learned to make their homes as agriculturalists in a dry land. Lives depended on knowing when rain might fall, which land retained moisture, when frost ended a growing season. Their homes sheltered them through cold winters. Periodically, they had to move a short distance to find a fresh supply of firewood, fertile soil, game and wild plants. Long droughts meant they had to move away from an entire region. The stories of these migrations remain in the oral traditions of Pueblo people.

Family and Community

From at least 5500 B.C. to A.D. 450, small groups of families lived by following game and harvesting wild plants as the seasons changed. In time, people acquired plants that provided enough food for them to settle in one place. Between 1500 and 1000 B.C., corn and squash were two of the first foods acquired by the people of the Southwest. Domesticated in Mexico, corn and squash could be dried, feeding families through cold winter months. By 300 to 500 B.C., beans provided a needed source of protein to people’s diets. With the development of bows and arrows, they could kill more game than with spears. Settled in one place, pottery as opposed to baskets became more effective containers for cooking, carrying and storage. Family homes were pithouses—partially set into the ground. After A.D. 700, people in some areas of the Colorado Plateau began building increasingly complex multi-room masonry homes entirely above the ground.

Communities developed as food production improved. Then as today, communities varied in size. Some families continued to live in pithouses on small farmsteads. Some lived in farming villages of less than 25 above-ground rooms with the basic pithouse design reflected in a kiva ceremonial chamber. In Chaco Canyon alone there were 200 to 400 such villages in the 11th century. After A.D. 1000, people built towns containing as many as 700 to 900 rooms. Yellow Jacket in Colorado had a population of 2,500. Some urban centers were essentially master- planned communities with large portions constructed at one time. People eventually moved on from these communities to places with more water, more fertile land, more firewood, more game animals and more peaceful neighbors.

1. Ancestral Pueblo. Sandal socks, A.D. 500-1300. This footwear is made of turkey feathers with a yucca leaf sandal. It would have provided much-needed warmth in the winters in northern Arizona. Feathers hold in body warmth and repel moisture. In addition to providing feathers, turkeys were a semi-domesticated food source, kept in pens at night and herded during the day. Archaeologists have speculated that they may have been more important for their feathers and the warmth those feathers brought than as food. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 1517CI

2. Ancestral Pueblo. Snowflake black-on-white/Bitahochi-style bowl, c. A.D. 1300.

This bowl was made at a time when many people were relocating their homes because of the Great Drought, which occurred from A.D. 1296 to 1299. As a result, potters may have gathered design and technical ideas from people with whom they had not previously been in contact. The body of the human figure on this piece is in the shape of an hourglass, a shape seen on some petroglyph figures from the Mesa Verde area. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 363P

3. Ancestral Pueblo. Necklace, A.D. 900-1110. This two-strand necklace has approximately 2,700 beads and four shell beads. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 202BE

4. Ancestral Pueblo. St. John’s black-on-red jar, A.D. 1275-1325. This jar is fairly large and would have been rather heavy when full, so the potter made it easier to handle by placing indentations in the base on either side. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 376P

5. Ancestral Pueblo. Flagstaff black-on-white jar, A.D. 1100-1200. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 374P

6. Ancestral Pueblo. Reserve black-on-white jar, A.D. 1050-1100. NA-SW-MG-A2-1

7. Ancestral Pueblo. Red Mesa black-on-white storage jar, A.D. 870-1000. Storage jars with a small neck could be readily sealed to protect the contents from animals and insects. The design on this jar resembles a textile design. Storage jars were a necessary part of household equipment for every family during this period, when people were beginning to build homes above the ground. NA-SW-AZ-A2-306

8. Ancestral Pueblo. Tusayan polychrome bowl, A.D. 1250-1285. This bowl is painted using one of the earliest three-color styles made in the Kayenta region. When it was made, drought was causing people to move away from more marginal farming areas and draw together in the center of the region, where there was more water.


9. Ancestral Pueblo. Tularosa black-on-white canteen, A.D. 1100-1250. This canteen was meant to be seen from the top and bottom. The potter flanked the spout with dog effigy handles and painted the figure of a person on the canteen base. Effigy handles were fairly common on pitchers, more so than on other pottery styles such as this canteen. NA-SW-MG-A2-19

10. Ancestral Pueblo. Bandelier black-on-gray jar, c. A.D.1500. This jar was made by people who were the ancestors of the Tewa-speaking people in New Mexico. In this design, Tewa advisor Gary Roybal sees triangular elements that represent mountains as well as trees and a trail along a stream represented by dots. This is a style Roybal associates with Otowi Pueblo. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 394P

11. Otowi Pueblo. San Lazaro glazed polychrome jar, c. A.D. 1490-1550. This jar comes from an ancestral Tewa pueblo of the Rio Grande region. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. NA-SW-OT-A3-1

12. Ancestral Pueblo. Tusayan black-on-white dipper, A.D. 1150-1300. The dipper shape resembles a half gourd, which would have been the material dippers were made of before ceramics. NA-SW-AZ-A2-128

13. Ancestral Pueblo. Cibeque polychrome jar, A.D. 1300-1400. NA-SW-AZ-A7-57

14. Ancestral Pueblo. Escavada black-on-white pitcher, A.D.925-1125. This effigy handle seems to depict a spotted cat crawling toward the rim for a drink. NA-SW-Az-A2-295.

15. Ancestral Pueblo. La Plata black-on-white bowl. A. D. 600-800. This circular design—perhaps a sun—was painted on other bowls from the La Plata Valley in New Mexico, just south of the Colorado state line. When this was made, people lived in pithouse groupings of from one to 12 houses on the mesa tops. They stored their food in pits in the floor, and each house had an antechamber to protect residents from the cold air. People may have had homes on the canyon floor, but any homes have been covered by the soil washed down by stream flooding. NA-SW-AZ-A2-326

16. Ancestral Pueblo. Red Mesa black-on-white pitcher, A.D. 870-950. The potter who made this pitcher painted a design that resembles a coiled snake and then placed pebbles in a pocket in the base to make the pitcher rattle. NA-SW-AZ-A2-195

17. Ancestral Pueblo. Chaco black-on-white canteen, A.D.1050-1150. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 365P

18. Otowi Pueblo. Bandelier black-on-gray jar, c. A.D.1500. When this jar was made, it was a dominant type in the northern one-third of the Rio Grande region. It is called biscuit ware. Stylistic similarities in biscuit ware suggest it was fairly standardized and produced by specialists in a limited number of villages. NA-SW-PC-A2-1

19. Ancestral Pueblo. Tusayan gray ware turntable, A.D.1050-1300. This is a form used to support the base of a vessel as the potter was forming it. It is a tool potters still use today. The Hopi call this tool a “tapipi,” while in the Rio Grande area it is a “puki.” It is unusual to see a piece made specifically for this use. Often the base of a broken jar is ground at the jagged edges to make it smooth and continue its usefulness. NA-SW-AZ-A1-14

20. Ancestral Pueblo. Lino black-on-gray bowl, A.D. 500-600. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 350P

21. Ancestral Pueblo. Flagstaff black-on-white double jar, A.D. 1100-1200. The two linked jars are connected by a hollow handle. The person who decorated this piece made the design on one jar entirely different from the design on the other. Around the time when this piece was made, in the mid-1100s, abundant rainfall drew many people to the Flagstaff area, where they built masonry pueblo homes. The farmers also built field houses to be near their crops. NA-SW-AZ-A2-113

22. Ancestral Pueblo. Holbrook black-on-white bowl, c. A.D. 1075. The people who made this style of pottery lived in small pueblos with no more than 15 rooms. These pueblos were located between the Hopi mesas on the north, the Mogollon Rim on the south, and between Flagstaff and Holbrook on the west and east, respectively. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 361P

23. Ancestral Pueblo. Roosevelt black-on-white javelina effigy canteen, A.D. 1250-1300. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 372P

24. Ancestral Pueblo. Mimbres mountain sheep effigy jar, A.D. 1000-1150. NA-SW-MG-A4-2

25. Ancestral Pueblo. Kinishba polychrome bowl, A.D. 1300-1350. NA-SW-AZ-A7-39

26. Ancestral Pueblo. Mesa Verde black-on-white mug, A.D. 1200-1300. In the one hundred- year span of time that this mug was probably made, life at Mesa Verde changed considerably. Around A.D. 1200, people were moving from their farming villages on the mesa tops into the canyons, where they built the famous cliff dwellings. During the later part of the period, the Great Drought that began in A.D. 1276 was probably a factor in causing families to move from their cliff homes toward the south and east with more fertile land and water. NA-SW-AZ-A2-314

27. Ancestral Pueblo. Mesa Verde black-on-white mug, A.D. 1200-1300. Mugs from the Mesa Verde area are a regional specialty. They are so standardized that archaeologists think there may have been just a few places where the pottery was produced. Long trench kilns have been found at Mesa Verde, indicating that pottery from a number of different potters and a number of different villages could have been fired at once, perhaps by someone who was particularly good at firing. NA-SW-AZ-A2-99

28. Ancestral Pueblo. White Mound black-on-white canteen, A.D. 700-800. This is an early example of a vessel made to resemble a gourd, which was a pre-ceramic water container. NA-SW-AZ-A2-274

29. Ancestral Pueblo. Kiatuthlanna black-on-white pitcher, A.D. 840-870. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 341P

30. Ancestral Pueblo. Chaco black-on-white pitcher, A.D. 1050-1150. This distinctive shape is called a Chaco pitcher for its abundance in Chaco Canyon and Chaco-influenced areas. Most of these pitchers are found at Great House and Great Kiva sites rather than at small house sites. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 352P

31. Ancestral Zuni. Pinnawa glaze-on-white bowl, A.D. 1350-1450. A specialist in the production of glaze ware made this bowl. She painted stylized butterflies on the interior and birds on the exterior, two creatures that are on historic and contemporary Zuni ceramics. Analysis of the clay and glaze used in this pottery indicates that there were only a few sources for this pottery among the nine protohistoric villages along the Zuni River and its tributaries. NA-SW-ZU-A2-7

32. Otowi Pueblo. Tsankawi black-on-cream bowl, A.D. 1500-1600. Located on the Pajarito Plateau of New Mexico, Otowi had just fewer than 600 rooms making it one of the larger communities of its time. According to adviser Gary Roybal, Puye, Otowi and Tsankawi were ancestral Tewa communities that visited and traded with each other. NA-SW-OT-A2-3

33. Ancestral Hopi. Jeddito black-on-yellow bowl, A.D. 1300-1450. By firing their ceramics with coal, ancestral Hopi potters produced highly fired, durable pieces that were very popular and traded widely among Pueblo people. Hopi tradition teaches that after emerging into this world, different clans migrated along different routes before coming together at Hopi. Homol’ovi, Canyon de Chelly, Wupatki and Tuzigoot are some of the sites the Hopi associate with their history. Some of the clan stories link to the south and the Hohokam. Na-SW-AZ-A6-12

34. Ancestral Hopi. Sityatki polychrome bowl, A.D. 1400-1625. This bowl features a terraced cloud shape surrounded by stars or dragonflies. NA-SW-AZ-A6-15

1. Ramona Sakiestewa, (b.1948) Hopi. Small turkey feather blanket, 1981. Staff at Bandelier National Monument asked weaver Ramona Sakiestewa to rediscover the process ancestral weavers used to create a turkey feather blanket. She wove two full-sized blankets as well as this small example. She learned that a 2.5-foot by 3-foot turkey feather blanket required 180 yards of yucca cord and 3,000 turkey feathers. Gift of the Artist. 4136-44

2. Ancestral Pueblo. Sandal, A.D 600-1300. Some archaeologists have suggested that very large sandals found caked with dirt, such as this one, may have been used as a kind of “sandal overshoe.” This sandal provided a thick, sturdy pad for walking. NA-SW-AZ-C-1

3. Ancestral Pueblo. Sandal, A.D. 500-1300. This sandal was woven of yucca with a common plaited basketry technique used today. The cord used to attach this well-worn sandal is still intact. Usually, sandals had heel and toe loops through which a cord was run to tie it to the foot. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 1516CI

4. Ancestral Pueblo. Awl, A.D. 500-1300. This awl is made of deer bone and could be used for making basketry and sewing hides. NA-SW-AZ-Q-23

5. Ancestral Pueblo. Needles, A.D. 500-1300. NA-SW-AZ-Q-22, 25,36

6. Ancestral Pueblo. Medicine black-on-red jar and cotton yarn, A.D. 1075-1125. The protection that ceramics offer household goods is demonstrated by the condition of these hanks of beautifully spun and dyed two-ply cotton yarn that were stored in this jar. Historically, the Hopi people grew cotton and traded both raw cotton and cotton cloth with many neighboring groups. This jar and its contents are from the Flagstaff area. The person who prepared this yarn was a fine spinner. It was spun very evenly, and then two strands are plied together, making the yarn stronger. The yarn is dyed in a subtle range of colors that shows a command of the dyeing process. NA-SW-AZ-A3-5 and L-1-4

Ancestors of the Present: Drawing Closer

We as a people know in our hearts, in our minds, our ancestral roots. We know that we must continue and not forget any of our ancestral areas. Cavan Gonzales, San Ildefonso Tewa

We weren’t the first ones to live here. People have always been moving from north to south. We have settled this area since the time when Mesa Verde was still occupied. Almost a thousand years we’ve been here as a community. Ulysses Reid, Zia

By A.D. 1300, Ancestral Pueblo people had left the northern parts of the Colorado Plateau. Pueblo people have stories of the migration journeys of the clans. In the period from A.D. 1350 to 1550, people drew closer to their present day homes, some toward Hopi, some toward Zuni and Acoma, many toward the Rio Grande and its tributaries. Closer to historic times, the linkage between the migration stories and ancestral sites becomes more specific.

 Pueblo Revolt: The First American Revolution

When the men at Cochiti counsel us, they remind us of the way our great-great-great ancestors practiced this way of life. They gave us a set of values, a belief system and many of them had to die in order to protect these ideals for all generations to come. Rachele Agoyo, Cochiti, Santo Domingo

In 1540, when the Spanish entered Pueblo homelands, 40,000 to 50,000 people lived in 80 to 100 communities. By1696, only 14,000 Native people remained in 22 communities. The intervening years were brutal. European diseases killed many. In 1598, Spain granted Juan de Oñate Pueblo homelands to colonize and convert the Pueblo people to the Catholic Church. He imposed a feudal economic system that demanded tributes of supplies and labor. Practicing Pueblo religion was considered witchcraft and punished by whipping and burning at the stake.

Popé is our hero. The Pueblo Revolt brought everything back on track for our people. Herman Agoyo, San Juan Tewa

On August 10, 1680, the Pueblo people drove the Spanish out of their homelands. They united under the leadership of a San Juan man named Popé in what has been called the first American Revolution. In the initial revolt, 400 Spanish and 21 of 33 priests in New Mexico were killed. In 1692, Diego de Vargas succeeded in returning the Spanish to New Mexico, but the revolt ended Spanish demands for tribute.

1 Santa Ana. Manta, 1850-1880. This manta is composed of handspun handwoven cotton with a woven wool border. Before the Pueblo Revolt, the annual tribute each household paid to the Spanish included a cotton manta. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   151bl

2 Jason Garcia (b. 1973), Santa Clara. “Pueblo Revolt August 10, 1680,” 2004. This tile is made with traditional clay and paint and was traditionally fired. It depicts one of the Pueblo runners, who notified the different pueblo communities of the planned revolt. The runners carried knotted cords and, as each day passed, a knot was untied. When there were no more knots, the revolt was to begin. The figures on the left are rendering payment imposed by the ecomienda system. Jason Garcia meant the boy to represent the indentured servitude that was a form of payment.   4297-1

3 San Ildefonso. Powhoge polychrome storage jar, 1780-1820. The jar interior shows markings from a gourd or clay dipper. The rawhide strapping was applied wet and shrank as it dried. It was used to add stability to a cracked jar and to assist carrying. Tewa advisors Barbara Gonzales and Gary Roybal commented on the jar’s designs. The main design represents a bird’s tail feathers and there are cloud designs near the rim. Jars of this size stored one-half fanega (1.3 bushels) of grain. During the period before the Pueblo Revolt, a pueblo household owed its landlord one fanega of grain each year. Although this jar was made at least 100 years after the Revolt, storage jars still had a somewhat standardized size. Discussion of the relationship between ceramics and the economic circumstances of the period are referenced in Jonathan Batkin’s book, Pottery of the New Mexico Pueblos, 1989. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   555p

4. Tonita Peña (1893-1949), San Ildefonso. Untitled, 1939. This painting depicts a priest blessing representatives of the many cultures encountered by the Spanish in their quest for converts to Catholicism. The painting was done to commemorate the Coronado Cuatro Centennial. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III.   Iac539

5. San Juan. Necklace, c. 1890. Cross necklaces were usually made of silver, but sometimes brass beads such as those in this necklace were included. Through the years, cross necklaces were often personalized by their owners. Original crosses that were lost were replaced by crosses of a different style and broken silver beads were replaced by coral, turquoise or glass beads.   sj-j-1

6 Isleta. Necklace, c. 1890. For Pueblo people, the double-bar cross can represent a dragonfly. The heart at the bottom of the cross pendant is found on the bottom of many crosses of Spanish and Mexican origin, and is often referred to as the Sacred Heart when viewed within the beliefs of the Catholic Church. For Pueblo people, the heart can represent the heart of the dragonfly.     is-j-1

7 Pueblo. Necklace, late 1800s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Department.   248s

8 Mike Bird-Romero (b.1946), San Juan. Necklace, 1991. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. E. Daniel Albrecht.

9 Pueblo. Necklace, 1920, 28 length. Many cross necklaces were made between 1880 and 1920. Cross necklaces can have a dual meaning to Pueblo people, referencing both Christianity and elements of the natural world. Marie Reyna, Taos, noted the cross is stamped on both sides, possibly suggesting an artist’s pride in his work, where only the wearer and artist know what isn’t seen. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   208be

10 Mike Bird-Romero (b.1946), San Juan. Crosses, 1991. Mike Bird-Romero made a set of more than 80 crosses based on research his wife, Allison Bird-Romero, conducted regarding historic cross necklaces. Her publication, Heart of the Dragonfly, 1992, makes the connection between the crosses of the Spanish and ancestral cross motifs in which a single cross could represent stars and sun and a double barred cross could represent the dragonfly associated with summer rains that make life possible. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. E. Daniel Albrecht.   3336-1

Home Under Three Flags

We survived all these years, and we intend to survive the rest of time. Tony Reyna, Taos

They maintained their traditions regardless of persecutions. That’s why we have those traditions today because of their strong desire to continue. Gary Roybal, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara Tewa


During the 18th century, the Pueblos and the Spanish allied against raids from Utes, Comanches, Navajos and Apache. Spain recognized Pueblo land rights through land grants. A dual religious life was established with open Catholic worship and traditional religious practice observed in secrecy.


In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain, but maintained limited control of Pueblo country. This provided some relief from religious persecution. While Mexico recognized the Spanish land grants, they were also made citizens of Mexico and required to pay taxes.

 United States

By 1846, the start of the Mexican War, the United States had gained control of New Mexico. In 1850, the Pueblo population reached a low of 7,000. In 1880, the Transcontinental Railroad was built through Pueblo lands. Protestant Missionaries came to the Pueblos as part of Federal education policy to use mission schools and boarding schools to “civilize” the Indians by eradicating Native language and religion. As the myth of the “Vanishing Indian” took hold, the Pueblos refused to vanish.

1 Zuni/Santa Ana. Manta-Dress, 1870-1880. This textile would have been woven during the time when the United States had seized control of the Southwest from Mexico. Although the manta was collected at Santa Ana, and probably worn there, it is a classic Zuni manta displaying an extremely intricate, low-contrast border design. The main design embroidered on the manta is that of the swallowtail butterfly, a symbol of beauty, with small floral motifs that were inspired by Spanish design. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   174BL

2 Santa Ana. Trios polychrome jar, 1800-1830. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   106p

3 Zia. San Pablo polychrome jar, 1740-1800. When this jar was made, New Mexico was still a colony of Spain. This is one of the oldest historic period jars in the Heard’s collection. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   112p

4 Santa Ana. Jar, 1820-1830. The stylized birds at the rim are unusual for this time period. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   116p

5 Zia. Jar, c. 1850-1860. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   587.5p

6 Santo Domingo. Kiua polychrome jar, pre-1830. This storage jar has been mended by drilling holes on either side of the crack and sewing the two sides together with rawhide, which shrank to make a tight mend. Mends such as this allowed a jar to continue its usefulness in the home. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   612p

Northern Pueblo Pottery

Pottery is our existence. Without this, I don’t know from where our money would come. It also commands respect. Pottery is life giving. Madeline Naranjo, Santa Clara Tewa

All these things that we do, drum making, pottery making, those are life skills. They’re needed within our communities for traditional things. You’re able to make a few more and sell it to support your family, but the art is really our life. We didn’t do those things to put them in galleries; we did those things because we needed to keep warm. We needed things to eat out of. Indian way is art. Our life is art. Marie Reyna, Taos

Pottery has always served a variety of needs in the home. In ancestral times, potters made containers for ceremonial and practical use as well as to barter for other household needs. Some wares were widely traded. By the late 1800s, the influx of tourists and traders broadened the market, and since then families who make pottery have seen their work change from functioning as household container, to curio, to art. The tradition of blackware pottery is strong in the Northern Pueblos of Santa Clara and San Ildefonso where potters have established ceramic styles that bring the attention of collectors from all over the world. Pottery remains a family tradition and the economic lifeblood of these communities.

. Gift of Mary Hamilton   Si-a1-8

1 Margaret Tafoya (1904-2001), Santa Clara. Jar, 1925. During a visit to the Heard in 1995, Margaret Tafoya identified this jar as one she made as a young potter. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection     603p

2 Margaret Tafoya (1904-2001), Santa Clara. Jar, c. 1973. The bear paw references a story from Santa Clara Pueblo in which a bear leads the people to water.   Sc-a1-8

3 Nathan Youngblood (b. 1954), Santa Clara. Plate, 2005. Nathan Youngblood is known for carving deep, crisp lines and creating abstract designs based on traditional themes. At times, he creates various colors from different slips or leaving unpolished areas. This plate is an innovative “teardrop” form, which is a departure from more circular forms made by Youngblood’s grandmother, Margaret Tafoya. Gift of Meilee and Morrey Spitz, Charles S. King and Nathan and Anne Youngblood

4 Cavan Gonzales (b. 1970), San Ildefonso. Jar, 1994. Cavan Gonzales is the oldest of his siblings, as was his mother, Barbara Gonzales; his grandmother, Anita Martinez, and his great-grandfather Adam Martinez, son of Maria and Julian Martinez. Gonzales has revived the polychrome style of his great-great-grandparents while developing his own style. About this jar he said, “This is a polychrome jar made of clay materials from my pueblo. The tan that is utilized is a very old source of clay. The designs are a squash blossom and leaf designs that shoot upward. On the belly, I have a belt design going around the entire piece. The black that is utilized is a mixture of bee plant with clays from my local area, and that gives them that light grayish tone. I like using soft colors on my polychromes.”   3497-1

5 Maria Martinez (1887-1980) and Popovi Da (1921-1971), San Ildefonso. Jar, 1960s. Maria Martinez made pottery first with her husband, then with her son, Popovi Da, and later with her daughter-in-law, Santana. When Maria made pottery alone, it was left undecorated. Gift of Mary Hamilton   Si-a1-8

6 Maria Martinez (1887-1980) and Julian Martinez (1885-1943), San Ildefonso. Jar, c. 1935.

7 Tony Da (b. 1940), San Ildefonso. Jar, c. 1980. In the late 1960s, Tony Da and his father introduced a number of techniques to pottery including sgraffito — finely scratching into the clay surface –and setting turquoise and other stones into the pottery. Gift from the estate of Herman and Claire Blum   3576-258

8 Maria Martinez (1887-1980) and Tony Da (b. 1940), San Ildefonso. Jar, c. 1972. Tony Da often fired his pottery under the guidance of his grandmother, Maria Martinez. The design that encircles the jar is an avanyu or water serpent, and clouds hang over the serpent. Gift of Mr. James T. Bialac     Si-a1-7

9 Tammy Garcia (b. 1969), Santa Clara. Jar, 1995. On one side of this jar, Tammy Garcia featured a Pueblo-style parrot design similar to those seen on early Acoma pottery. A complex abstract design is on the opposite side. Birds have long been important to Pueblo life and ceremony.   3557-1

10 Maria Martinez (1887-1980) and Julian Martinez (1885-1943), San Ildefonso. Jar, c. 1915. Before they developed the black matte-paint on polished black pottery that brought them much acclaim, Maria and Julian Martinez painted pottery with several colors. In 1915, around the time this jar was made, they lived and worked at the Painted Desert Exposition in San Diego. Cavan Gonzales, the great-great-grandson of the couple, noted that the black paint made from bee plant and the red paint are the same materials he uses today, as is the clay source. He said, “The clay is not dug out of the ground, but only gathered from the top surface with our fingers, ensuring that there is clay for use by future generations.” Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   567p

11 Martina Vigil (1856-1916) and Florentino Montoya (1858-1918), San Ildefonso. Jar, c. 1905.   Si-a7-6

12 San Ildefonso. Wedding vase, 1890-1920. “I love this wedding vase; the mouths are like birds, you can see a little beak on either side. And then it has a nice flower design. You get the idea that it’s nurturing and watering the flowers, the plants. It has a butterfly on there coming to get the nectar. I love the way that’s zooming in. It also has a surface on the bottom that’s polished, and it’s not dye. You can tell it’s rubbed with a stone. I just love it! Springtime!” Kathy Sanchez, San Ildefonso, great-granddaughter of Maria Martinez. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   658p

13 Virginia Ebelacker (b. 1925), Santa Clara. Jar, c. 1970. Virginia Ebelacker, the eldest daughter of Margaret Tafoya, received an honorable mention award for this carved and highly polished jar at the 1971 Scottsdale National Art Exhibition. Ebelacker’s grandmother, Sara Fina Tafoya, was the first-known potter to carve her pottery, beginning around 1922. Gift of Mr. Edward Jacobson   Sc-a10-34

14 Jody Naranjo (b. 1969), Santa Clara. Jar, 1999. The birds represent sand cranes seen near Jody Naranjo’s home in New Mexico.   3850-1

15 Susan Folwell (b. 1970), Santa Clara. Plate, 2001. On this plate, contemporary potter Susan Folwell referenced popular literature through designs inspired by the Harry Potter books.

16 Mela Youngblood (1931-1991), Santa Clara. Bowl with candle holders, 1970s. In Pueblo families, potterymaking is often accomplished through the collective efforts of family members. Margaret Tafoya’s daughter, Mela Youngblood, was known for her ability to polish pottery. Gift of Charles Benton   Sc-a10-58

17 Attributed to Sara Fina Tafoya (c. 1863-1949), Santa Clara. Jar, 1905. The indented bear paw design has long been considered a Santa Clara trademark. No other pueblo uses it. Yet even though most people consider it traditional, the design apparently has been in use only since about 1900. It was possible for Sara Fina Tafoya’s great-grandson, Nathan Youngblood, to identify this jar as Tafoya’s work based on the shape of the bear paw design. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   513p

18 Santana (1909-2002) and Adam Martinez (1903-2000), San Ildefonso. Bowl, 1969-1970.

Around 1956, Santana Martinez began making pottery with her husband, who was vital in acquiring and cleaning the clay and firing the pottery. Gift of Dennis and Janis Lyon   si-a10-27

19 Maria Martinez (1887-1980) and Julian Martinez (1885-1943), San Ildefonso. Plate, c. 1925. One of the earliest designs painted by Julian Martinez on the pottery made by Maria Martinez was the feather pattern the couple had seen on ancestral Mimbres pottery. Gift of Madeline and Russell Warren   3465-1

20 Maria Martinez (1887-1980) and Santana Martinez (1909-2002), San Ildefonso. Plate, 1943-1956. Gift of Mrs. Dean Stanley     Si-a10-16

21 Blue Corn Calabaza (1920-1999 ), San Ildefonso. Plate, 1970-1977. In the 1970s, Blue Corn began painting in the older tradition of polychrome pottery or pottery of many colors. Gift of James T. Bialac in honor of Blue Corn   3541-1


1 Awa Tsireh (1898-1955), San Ildefonso. Firing pottery, n.d.. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry S. Galbraith   3309-320

2 Lorencita A. Bird (1917-1995), San Juan. Manta, 1985. Lorencita Bird was a skilled textile artist who researched and generously taught the traditions of Pueblo weaving and embroidery to many students. The manta features a butterfly–a symbol of renewal and spring. Sc-c-2

3 Tesuque. Storage Jar, 1860-1890. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   141p

4 Virginia Romero, Taos. Bowl, 1978. When advisor Marie Reyna, Taos, selected this bowl for exhibition, she said, “The elasticity of the clay adds to its versatility, and many northern Pueblo potters enjoy working with micaceous clay. It’s just a beautiful, natural clay that speaks for itself. The potter brings out the shape of the work, but nature itself works with you to produce a beautiful, unique piece of pottery.”   Ts-a1-12

5 Grace Medicine Flower (b. 1938), Santa Clara. Jar, 1991. Delicate flowers and hummingbirds are etched into the surface of this jar. Gift of Rita and John Rye   4110-3 a,b

6 Joseph Lonewolf (b. 1932), Santa Clara. Pottery, 1978. In the late 1960s, Joseph Lonewolf, his father, Camilio Sunflower Tafoya, and his sister, Grace Medicine Flower, began using the sgraffito technique to lightly scratch designs in their pottery. Lonewolf often depicts wildlife from New Mexico and Colorado. Gift of Don and Jean Harrold   4116-18

7 Camilio Sunflower Tafoya (1903-1995), Santa Clara. Pottery, 1990s. Gift of Adrienne and Jerome Harold Kay   3992-30

8 Tesuque. Rain god, 1890, 12 x 6 x 6. This early example of a rain god was made before the mass marketing of these figures. Santa Fe merchant Jake Gold sold them to stores across the country between 1900 and 1940. Gift of Giovanni Bolla   Tq-a12-1

Pueblo Ovens

I really like my mom’s oven bread. You can recognize the taste of bread that comes from different families. If you’re dancing and participating in a ceremony, you can tell where the baskets of food come from. You have a lot of food that comes from all the families. Cavan Gonzales, San Ildefonso Tewa

Many pueblo homes have outdoor beehive-shaped ovens, used for special occasion baking such as feast days. The ovens, called hornos, were introduced by the Spanish. The first oven recorded was at San Ildefonso in 1591. Prior to the Spanish arrival, corn was the principal grain food. The Spanish introduced wheat and the recipe for leavened bread. While a corn tortilla or flat bread can be baked over a fire, in the fire’s ashes or on a wood stove, bread loaves need an oven. Baking multiple loaves is the only way to use the horno efficiently. The preparation of dough for these multiple loaves requires larger bowls than had been needed before.

Firing the oven takes skill to know when the oven is the right temperature. Grains of oats or wheat may be tossed into the oven to see how quickly they brown. If the grain browns

too fast, water is used to cool down the oven. When the right temperature is reached, the bread is put in using long-handled wooden paddles and the oven door is put in place.

Pueblo oven bowls

1 Santo Domingo. Bowl, c. 1910. Santo Domingo pottery usually had a cream-colored background with bold designs painted in black. Three potters are best known for making pottery with the black paint predominate. They are Felipita Aguilar Garcia, her sister, Asuncion Aguilar Cate, and their sister-in-law, Mrs. Ramos Aguilar. Their work, sometimes referred to as “Aguilar pottery”, often was sold by Julius Seligman of the Bernalillo Mercantile Company. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   591p

2 Tesuque. Bowl, 1880-1900. This design that looks like an interlocking scroll was a popular and distinctive Tesuque motif. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 562p

3 Cochiti. Bowl, c. 1880. The painter of this bowl found an impressive way to convey a sense of movement and energy in this design. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 135p

4 Cochiti. Bowl, 1910. Much of the pottery made at Cochiti at the turn of the century was effigy vessels and figures. This bowl has carefully painted birds that are quite different from the free-form birds and animals that decorated earlier bowls and jars. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 571p

5 Santo Domingo. Bowl, early 1900s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 653p

6 Zuni. Bowl, early 1900s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 479p

7 Santa Ana. Bowl, late 1800s. Although Santa Ana pottery flourished in the 19th century, little survived and bowls are rare. 101p

8 Zuni. Bowl, 1885-1890. Zuni traditions dictated that only specific designs could be used, and only in certain ways.   The design on the exterior of this food bowl fits that convention. The designs represent feathers. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 406p

9 Monica Silva, Santo Domingo. Bowl, early 1900s. Between 1950 and 1952, Santo Domingo jeweler Angie Reano Owen lived with her grandmother, Monica Silva. She recalls the Fred Harvey Company ordering pottery lamp bases. They would load up the back of a truck with an order of lamp bases, and Owen would ride in the back on the long drive to the Grand Canyon. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 545p

10 Cochiti. Bowl, 1890-1910. Cochiti is unusual among the pueblos in having long used moisture symbols–clouds, rain and lightning–on pots made for everyday use. Most other pueblos restrict such designs to ceremonial pieces, which are seldom seen by outsiders. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 596p

11 Zuni. Bowl, 1830-1850. It takes skill to make a large, well-shaped bowl. Once made, a bowl becomes an important part of household and family functions. Bailing wire was wrapped around the rim of this bowl to help keep its shape when a small crack developed. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 115p

12 Zuni. Bowl, late 1800s. Signs of wear on the interior base of this bowl indicate that it was used in the household. The shape of the bowl’s rim indicates that it may have been used as a serving dish. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 408p

1 Santo Domingo. Bread paddle, c. 1930. So-q-1

2 Michelle Sandoval, San Juan. Apron, 2004. Cross-stitch on gingham is a popular apron design. Both this apron and the Isleta apron are decorative and are worn at a gathering when people are dressed up, not when the preparations are being made.

3 Lupita A. Lucero (b. 1947), Isleta. Apron, 2004. Isleta aprons are traditionally white cloth with a crocheted border over a red lining.

4 Santo Domingo. Bowl, 1850-1900. So-a7-6

5 Zia. Dough bowl, 1900. The Harvey Company collected a number of these bowls that were used to mix bread dough, and all are painted with very similar designs. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 236p

6 San Juan. Bowl, 1880-1900. Red-on-tan pottery has been made in the pueblos for centuries, although polished black pottery was made more often. The design is enhanced by the random placement of darkened areas called fire-clouds, caused by changes in heat from the out-of-doors firing process. Sj-a1-8

7 Zia. Dough bowl, 1880-1910. This bowl has a classic Zia dough bowl design that was beautifully painted. The bowl has gained a mellow patina through much use. It is heavy and would have had good stability as bread dough was being mixed. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 120p

Pueblo Oven Jars

1 San Ildefonso. Jar, c. 1850. This jar has feather designs hanging from the rim and a central cloud motif with rain falling from the cloud. Vegetation nourished by the rain can be seen at the corners of the cloud. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   536p

2 Santa Ana. Jar, 1830-1880. Acquired from trader Frederick Volz by the Fred Harvey Company, this jar’s bold design is distinctive of Santa Ana jars of this time period. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   110p

3 Cochiti. Jar, 1880. An elongated deer and a variety of birds inhabit the landscape that this potter depicted. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 109p

4 Picuris. Jar. late 1800s. Potters at Picuris Pueblo have been making micaceous storage jars such as this one since 1680. Decoration was added in the form of a clay ribbon. Ps-a1-1

5 Zia. Jar, 1890-1900. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. Naturalistic birds and vegetation, inspired by European decorative arts, began to be painted after 1850 and grew in popularity into the 20th century. They succeeded the earlier stylized birds that had been painted in various forms since ancestral times.   117p

6 Zuni. Kiapkwa polychrome jar, 1820-1840. Precise, careful painting is distinctive of this period of Zuni pottery, and can be seen in the fine-line hatching on the design of this jar. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   398p

7 Santa Clara. Jar, late 1800s. When Margaret Tafoya looked at the Harvey Company pottery at the Heard Museum in 1995, she expected to see small sugar bowls and creamers like the ones she had made for the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe. Instead, she found large, old storage jars and bread bowls like the ones her family members had made. This large jar was reinforced by leather, which would have shrunk after being applied wet. The tight leather would have helped to keep the jar intact. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   556p

8 Santa Ana. Jar, c. 1895. The design on this jar reflects a time of greater stylistic freedom that began in the 1880s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   111P

9 Cochiti. Jar, 1860-1900. The prominent floral design on this jar often was painted on pottery from this time period. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   557p

10 San Juan. Jar, late 1800s. The red-on-tan pottery is the type most often associated with San Juan although black-on-tan pottery also was frequently made. By the turn of the century, pottery making almost ceased at San Juan with the exception of a few made for household use until a revival around 1930. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   145p

11 Santo Domingo. Jar, late 1800s. Large storage jars were all-purpose containers for the home, storing such items as grain and bread. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   123p

12 Picuris. Jar, late 1800s. The glistening flecks in the jar are mica found in the clay near Picuris and also at Taos. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   563p

Animal Dances of Winter

When I enter my pueblo, the first landmark that lets me know I’m home is seeing our two hills, which are located next to my mom’s home and these two hills are significant. Once a year on January 23rd, our feast day, we have an animal dance in which we pay respect and homage to all those that were taken in winters past–the buffalo dance followed with the deer dancers, the ram and antelopes. These two hills are where the deer dancers come down at sunrise. To me, it’s all living; it has a heartbeat of its own. Cavan Gonzales, San Ildefonso Tewa

Animal dances are usually held in winter, a time when the most important precipitation—snow—comes to Pueblo homelands. They are a prayer in which the whole community participates and when people now living in other communities often return home. In the animal dances, people are praying for the moisture necessary for all life. The ceremonies are also a tribute to the animals who traditionally provided food and clothing.

1 San Juan. Deer dancer headdresses, 1960s. Gift of Bernie Brown. Sj-I-1 and sj-I-3

2 Tonita Peña (1893-1949), San Ildefonso. “Buffalo Dance,” pre-1942, 11 x 14. The Buffalo Dance was one of the ceremonies Tonita Peña frequently depicted, always with a few figures representing many. Peña’s son, Joe Herrera, has said that a Buffalo Dance at Cochiti would include six to eight drummers from the drum society and 40 to 50 singers. Peña’s depictions of clothing worn in ceremony are usually very detailed and precise.   3309-361

3 Ramoncita Sandoval (b.1923), San Juan. Kilt, 1976. This kilt has a terraced cloud design similar, but not identical, to those at Hopi and Zuni. Some view the entire kilt as representing a cloud, with the short vertical stitches at the hem representing rain.

4 Timothy D. Wilcox, San Juan/Navajo. Belt, 1987. This belt is often called a rain sash, referring to the long fringe that resembles falling rain. na-c-58

5 San Juan. Boy’s headdress, 1960s. Speaking of his son’s participation in ceremonies, advisor Gary Roybal, San Ildefonso, said, “It’s important to let the next generation know the importance of maintaining the dances, the songs, the traditions that we have, social as well as religious activities. We tell the next generation, ‘Please continue those traditions for your benefit and the benefit of others.’” Gift of Bernie Brown. sj-I-6

6 Regina Cata, San Juan. Deer dancer figure, 1960s-1970s. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Galbraith. 3309-262a

7 Isabel C. Gonzales, (?) San Ildefonso. Kilt, 2004. This kilt is done in the style that would be worn in a Deer Dance. Its embroidered designs resemble those of a woman’s manta. 4330-1

8 Carol Velarde-Brewer (b. 1949), Santa Clara. Leggings, 2004. These leggings would be worn for the Deer Dance at Santa Clara.   4301-1a,b

9 Phillip Martinez (b. 1954), Taos. Drum, 1999. Gift of the artist. “All these things that we do, drum making, potterymaking, those are life skills. They’re needed within our communities for traditional things. You’re able to make a few more and sell them to support your family, but the art is really our life.” Marie Reyna, Taos.

10 Jose Rey Toledo (1915-1994), Jemez. Bighorn Sheep Dancer, 1968. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Galbraith.

11 Jemez. Kilt, late 1800s. This kilt is made of handspun, handwoven cotton cloth. Kilts wear out at the spot where the dancer’s knee repeatedly rubs the fabric. This kilt was patched with a piece from an older kilt that still bears the shadow of a former embroidered design that was picked out. Considering the effort that went into creating a garment from scratch, it is easy to understand why a kilt was repaired and renewed. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.

12 Michael Naranjo (b. 1944), Santa Clara. Buffalo Dancer, 1971.

Southern Pueblo Pottery and the Railroad

I remember as a child our Pueblo women sold crafts in front of the Alvarado Hotel and the Albuquerque railroad station. Some lived at the station in adobe homes made for them. We used to go visit them when I was a little girl. Their crafts produced an income for the families. The passengers liked to have souvenirs. Isleta was the main seller, and then probably Laguna, when the train stopped at Laguna. When the railroad vanished, it made it a little hard for the people who went and sold. Agnes Dill, Isleta

Home in the Southern Pueblos changed in the 1880s with the arrival of the railroad near Santo Domingo, Laguna and Isleta bringing tourists to Albuquerque. Prior to this, the people of Isleta, San Felipe, Santa Ana and Santo Domingo made pottery primarily for their own use. Zia made pottery both for their use and that of Jemez. As manufactured containers became available, some Pueblo pottery production declined while some potters at Cochiti and Isleta shifted to production of tourist wares. Today, individual potters have created distinctive ceramics that are prized by collectors. Helen Cordero was among the first potters singled out for her Storytellers.

1 Santo Domingo. Bowl, early 1900s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   221p

2 Vincentita Salas Pino (b. 1917), Zia. Jar, 1950-1960. Vincentita Pino learned potterymaking techniques from her maternal grandmother, Augustina Aguilar. Pino worked on large jars until about 1976 when her husband died. Pino was invited to the White House along with 18 other potters in 1974, and she presented pottery to First Lady Pat Nixon. Francis H. Harlow and Dwight Lanmon, The Pottery of Zia Pueblo, 2003. Zi-a7-41

3 Zia. Jar, c. 1885. This jar has a large parrot design that so often is seen combined with plant motifs on Zia pottery, but the bulbous neck of the jar is unusual. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   108p

4 Robert Tenorio (b. 1950), Santo Domingo. Jar, 2001. Robert Tenorio is inspired by the older traditional ceramics of Santo Domingo. Gift of the Artist in honor of the Heard Museum Volunteers   4098-1

5 Sofia Medina (b. 1932) and Rafael Medina (1929-1998), Zia. Jar, 1970s. Husband and wife, Sofia and Rafael Medina, worked collaboratively to make pottery. Rafael’s mother, Trinidad, taught Sofia how to make pottery. Rafael studied art at the Albuquerque Indian School and painted more traditional dancers on the three-dimensional pottery forms Francis H. Harlow and Dwight Lanmon, The Pottery of Zia Pueblo, 2003. Gift of Charles Benton   zi-a12-1

6 Cochiti or Santo Domingo. Jar, early 1900s. This potter depicted animal life as well as Anglo-European life on a water jar. Bequest of Shirley Robbins Rawnsley   3701-3

7 Diego Romero (b. 1964), Cochiti. Bowl, 2000, 6.75 x 12. Diego Romero has created two characters he calls the Chango Brothers. They are shown here as the Twin War Gods. Other depictions of them involve contemporary themes and social commentary.   4038-1

8 Zia. Canteen, late 1800s. This shape was made before Europeans came to America. The back of the canteen is rarely decorated. Francis H. Harlow and Dwight Lanmon, The Pottery of Zia Pueblo, 2003. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 119p

9 Cochiti. Canteen, 1880-1930. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   657p

10 Cochiti. Drum, early 1900s. Drums, as the sound of thunder, are a primary instrument for accompanying song-prayers in ceremony. The arches formed where the drum head meets the drum body have been called a representation of clouds.

Helen Cordero (1915-1994), Cochiti.

11 Drummer, 1976. Co-f-8

12 Figure, c. 1960. Before she created the Storytellers, Helen Cordero made other figures of people. The same attention to clothing and details are visible in Cordero’s early figures. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III   co-f-2

13 Storyteller, 1972-1976. Helen Cordero started a resurgence of figurative pottery following the creation of her first storyteller figure in 1964 that represented her grandfather. Her figures are distinctive not only for their whimsical nature, but also for the details of the painted clothing and jewelry. Gift of Mr. James T. Bialac     3483-1

14 Damacia Cordero (1905-????), Cochiti. Figures, 1984-1989. Damacia Cordero made a range of inventive creatures as well as more traditional Storytellers. These represent a mountain sheep and a rhinoceros. Co-f-10 and 3205-36

15 Seferina Ortiz (b. 1931), Cochiti. Bathing Beauties, 1988. Seferina Ortiz’s keen sense of humor is evident in the many different figures she creates. These represent the sun bathers who visit Cochiti Lake.

16 Virgil Ortiz (b. 1969), Cochiti. Figure, 1991. Virgil Ortiz has created imaginative figures that combine reality and fantasy. Gift of Robert and Ruth Vogele

17 Cochiti. Figure, c. 1889. Cochiti Pueblo has a long tradition of figurative ceramics, many of which were satirical impressions of Anglo-European businessmen, opera singers, priests, circus performers and others. They were often painted with the same plants and water form designs as were painted on pottery bowls and jars.

Florence Yepa (b. 1949), Jemez. Kilt, 2002, 20 x 43.75. This kilt has a classic design in a newer style of cross-stitch. According to Florence Yepa, it is worn mainly at harvest dances and social dances. It is worn as a kilt by men and across the shoulders of women. Speaking of the kilt and clothing worn in ceremony, Yepa said, “Every article of clothing is handmade, everything takes time to have it just the way it should be. There are certain colors, certain dresses, certain things that we wear to put the dance together, and it all represents something. On the kilt are the kiva steps, the rain and the lightning. The red color represents the sky; the green represents the earth. It’s very beautiful, how we have to know the stories of all the clothing that we wear for our ceremonial dances.”


1 Rufina Coriz, Santo Domingo. Necklace, c. 1947. Many families at Santo Domingo made necklaces with bird pendants for tourists in plastic and gypsum, when materials became scarce or unaffordable from the 1930s to the late 1950s. Angie Reano and her siblings helped her mother, Rufina Coriz, make jewelry by gluing the mosaic pieces using epoxy or Duco cement. Gift of Miss Marion R. Plummer and Mr. and Mrs. Stanley W. Plummer   So-j-18

2 Santo Domingo. Necklace, 1940-1950. Santo Domingo jeweler Angie Reano thought this necklace was made by either Domingo Abeita or Ralph Pacheco. It uses hand-drilled shell beads, jet and turquoise. The necklace shows a continuation of the mosaic tradition. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols.   4033-56

3 Santo Domingo. Necklace, c. 1940. The black material is probably from a car battery and the red a plastic comb. The off-white is gypsum and the turquoise is real. Gift of Joe B. Stallings in memory of Shirley A. Stallings   3819-1

4 Santo Domingo. Necklace, 1950s. Gift of Greg Hofmann   Na-j-794

5 Santo Domingo. Joclas, 1950s. Angie Reano remembers as a child her father, grandfather and other men trading the jewelry they made for Navajo blankets and Hopi kilts.   3695-32

6 Pueblo. Earrings, c. 1940. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection     978s-a,b

7 Joe Reano, Santo Domingo. Necklace, c. 1975. Joe Reano worked with his son, Joe B., to produce this necklace. The Reanos use only hand tools to shape, polish and perforate the stone and shell beads they make. Gift of Dennis and Janis Lyon   so-j-32

8 Jose Reano, Santo Domingo. Necklace, c. 1970. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols   4033-101

9 Joe B. Reano (b. 1940) and Terry Reano (b. 1935), Santo Domingo. Necklace, 1986. Joe and Terry used pink mussel shells from Mississippi for this necklace. They cut the shells by hand as well as polish by hand over several grades of sandstone to shape the beads.   So-j-40a

10 Charles Lovato, Santo Domingo. Necklace, 1974. Charles Lovato has been credited as originating shading in shell necklaces. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Tomlinson   4032-1

11 Roderick Tenorio (b. 1955), Santo Domingo. Bolo tie, 1994. Gift of Richard and Lois Rogers   4028-1

12 Joe B. Reano (b. 1940) and Terry Reano (b. 1935), Santo Domingo. Necklace, 1985. The Reanos used only hand tools rather than power tools to shape and polish this necklace made of olivella shells. Gift of Dennis and Janis Lyon so-j-36

13 Percy Reano (b. ), Santo Domingo. Gift of Mrs. Russell A. Lyon     So-j-20

14 Mike Bird-Romero (b. 1946), San Juan. Casino token pin, 1999. “This pin is patterned after the old Zuni manta pins that held silver dollars or other coins. Here the coin is a slot machine token from Acoma Pueblo’s Sky City Casino. The inspiration for the pin evolved from the various attitudes held by non‑Indians in regard to Indian gaming. The four beads are from an old necklace; the holes were drilled with a pump drill.”     3987-1

15 Cippy Crazy Horse (b. 1946), Cochiti. Bracelet, 2001. Cippy Crazy Horse was inspired by the jewelry of his father, Joe H. Quintana, and the early Pueblo silversmiths.     4107-1

Angie Reano (b. 1945), Santo Domingo. “The shell dictates to me a design, the work, the material I’m going to use. I visualize the design as I’m gluing.”

16 Bracelet, 1986

17 Ring, 1986

Julian Lovato (b. 1925), Santo Domingo.

18 Clip bolo, 1965-1969. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols   4033-209

19 Bracelet, 1970s. Gift of Michael Mulberger   So-j-11

20 Buckle, 1998.     3698-1

21 Clip bolo, 1971. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols

22 Jared Chavez (b. 1982), San Felipe. Bracelet, 2003. Jared Chavez learned traditional jewelry techniques from his father, Richard Chavez, but he has developed his own distinctive style focusing on detailed stamped designs. The bracelet references pueblo homes and was created when Jared was home on break from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. 4268-1

Richard Chavez (b. 1949) San Felipe.

23 Ring, early 1980s     4148-4

24 Ring, bracelet and earrings, 1995. 4027-1,2,3

25 Belt buckle, 1995.   4148-3

Gifts of Ruth and Robert Vogele

Western Pueblos: Acoma, Laguna, Zuni

Tourists traveling by train only stopped at the designated depots, but once U.S. 66 came through, people started wandering into Native communities to see things. We have the lava beds, and people would build little shelters with the lava rocks, and the women would sit under those shelters right by the Old Highway 66 and sell their pottery.Theresa Pasqual, Acoma

The Western Pueblo lands are on trade routes that date from ancestral times through today’s interstates. Of the three Western Pueblos in New Mexico, Zuni has inhabited its present homeland since about A.D. 700. Acoma’s mesa-top home community was established before A.D. 1000. Laguna is newer–established between 1697 and 1699, following the Spanish reconquest, by refugees from some of the Southern Pueblos, although ancestors of Laguna lived in the area long before then.

Located away from the Rio Grande, these pueblos traditionally practiced dry land farming and ditch irrigation. In historic times, the railroad passed through Laguna and Acoma lands. With the governor of Laguna’s approval, the railroad agreed to employ as many people from the pueblo as wanted to work. Into the 20th century, through strikes and World Wars, Laguna people were loyal railroad employees, working as far from home as Richmond, California.

Acoma, Laguna and Zuni Pottery

A lot of our potters work at the kitchen table; and when dinner comes, they move their pottery, and everybody sits down. Once dinner is done, the potter brings back her work and continues making pottery. Theresa Pasqual, Acoma

In your home, you always have one of each: a stew bowl, a water jar, a canteen, a corn meal bowl and a dough bowl. Milford Nahohai, Zuni

In all the pueblos, wage labor in government, tribal enterprises or off-reservation employment is the key source of income. Still, in the economies of the Acoma people, pottery occupies a significant place. In the early 1900s at Laguna, pottery making declined as railroad jobs became available and income from pottery production was less important. It was not until the 1970s that a revival of pottery making began. Beyond economic support for families, pottery plays a role in the ceremonies of home. Pottery may be used in an initiation ceremony or in other ceremonies as a container for water or cornmeal or to hold water that accompanies a person on a final journey home. Both Acoma and Zuni potters talk of how much sweeter water tastes when it comes from a jar fired in the traditional way. Painted vessels with designs of rain, clouds and rainbows is a maker’s prayer for a good life.

1 Acoma. Manta, 1850-1860. Embroidered Acoma mantas combine ancestral design elements with floral motifs that are a heritage from the Spanish. The red yarns come from raveled commercial cloth. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   237bl

2 Marie Chino (1907-1982), Acoma. Canteen, 1970s. Marie Z. Chino revived an ancestral Mimbres design for her parrot design motif, and the design has been carried on by other generations of the Chino family.   Gift from the estate of Herman and Claire Blum   3576-136

3 Acoma. Canteen, 1875-1925. “A long time ago, people would dip these canteens in the water, and then they would put a stopper in it, usually a corn cob or corn husk. Canteens were generally used by the men while they were working in the fields to store their water. Because the clay remains porous even after it is fired, its is great at cooling the water.” Christine Sims. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection     72p

4 Marie Z. Chino (1907-1982), Acoma. Vase, 1982.     “I give credit to all the Acoma potters in the past, my grandmother my aunt, my mother, even today’s potters. I’m very happy that out Acoma potters still exist today. It’s a thousand-year-old art and hopefully it will continue many generations to come.” Dolores Lewis Garcia. Ac-A2-11

5 Acoma. Portion of mica window, Late 1800s early 1900s. Sheets of mica were once used as windows in homes. Even though they were not transparent, they let in light.   Ac-v-7a

6 Dorothy Torivio (b. 1946), Acoma. Jar, 1984. Dorothy Torivio uses her eye to measure the sectioning of a pot for her designs. This piece was a division winner in the Heard Museum Guild’s Native American Arts and Crafts Show.     Ac-a2-12

7 Acoma. Jar, 1885-1910. “One of the well-known characteristics of Acoma pottery is the thinness of the pottery, the very thin walls. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   127p

8 Acoma. Jar, c. 1890. “This type of jar inspired me so much. As a young girl, I remember seeing my mother and my aunts make pottery and the design that’s on this particular piece is a parrot design. All the designs that are on this particular piece are related to Mother Nature. Everything that we put on our pottery comes from Mother Earth, and she’s the one that provides all our materials.” Dolores Lewis Garcia. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   508p

9 Acoma. Jar, 1875-1925. “This piece has a rainbow all the way around the whole water jar. After they rain falls you can see the pretty rainbow out on the horizon.” Dolores Lewis Garcia. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection     260p

10 Laguna. Jar, c. 1900. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection     261p

11 Acoma. Jar, 1890-1920. “The first time you pour water in the water jar, you can hear the sizzle. The reason is the water is going into the pours of the pottery. After a while, you can smell the earthly smell and you get that sweet taste of water from out pottery.” Emma Lewis Mitchell. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   734p

12 Evelyn Cheromiah (b. 1928), Laguna. Jar, 1978. Evelyn Cheromiah was credited by ceramic expert Rick Dillingham as successfully reviving the making of large jars at Laguna. Acoma and Laguna Pottery, 1992. La-a7-3

15 Marie Z. Chino (1907-1982), Acoma. Jar, c. 1968. Marie Z. Chino began making pottery in the 1920s and was one of a limited number of potters who had the skill to make very large jars. Gift of Rex Arrowsmith   ac-a2-5

16 Acoma. Digging Stick, late 1800s-early 1900s.

“I was fortunate to have people growing tomatoes, or green chili, or fresh onions. Once you taste those things and then you go to the store and buy them, you realize there’s just such a big difference.” Laura Wachempino


1 Acoma. Manta, 1850-1860. Embroidered Acoma mantas combine ancestral design elements with floral motifs that are a heritage from the Spanish. The red yarns come from raveled commercial cloth. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   237bl

2 Marie Z. Chino (1907-1982), Acoma. Canteen, 1970s. Marie Z. Chino revived an ancestral Mimbres design for her parrot design motif, and the design has been carried on by other generations of the Chino family.   Gift from the estate of Herman and Claire Blum   3576-136

3 Acoma. Canteen, 1875-1925. “A long time ago, people would dip these canteens in the water, and then they would put a stopper in it, usually a corn cob or corn husk. Canteens were generally used by the men while they were working in the fields to store their water. Because the clay remains porous even after it is fired, it is great at cooling the water.” Christine Sims. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection     72p

4 Marie Z. Chino (1907-1982), Acoma. Vase, 1982. “I give credit to all the Acoma potters in the past, my grandmother my aunt, my mother, even today’s potters. I’m very happy that out Acoma potters still exist today. It’s a thousand-year-old art and, hopefully, it will continue many generations to come.” Dolores Lewis Garcia. Ac-A2-11

5 Acoma. Portion of mica window, late 1800s-early 1900s. Sheets of mica were once used as windows in homes. Even though they were not transparent, they let in light.   Ac-v-7a

6 Dorothy Torivio (b. 1946), Acoma. Jar, 1984. Dorothy Torivio uses her eye to measure the sectioning of a pot for her designs. This piece was a division winner in the Heard Museum Guild’s Native American Arts and Crafts Show.     Ac-a2-12

7 Acoma. Jar, 1885-1910. “One of the well-known characteristics of Acoma pottery is the thinness of the pottery, the very thin walls.” Theresa Pasqual Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   127p

8 Acoma. Jar, c. 1890. “This type of jar inspired me so much. As a young girl, I remember seeing my mother and my aunts make pottery and the design that’s on this particular piece is a parrot design. All the designs that are on this particular piece are related to Mother Nature. Everything that we put on our pottery comes from Mother Earth, and she’s the one that provides all our materials.” Dolores Lewis Garcia. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   508p

9 Acoma. Jar, 1875-1925. “This piece has a rainbow all the way around the whole water jar. After the rain falls, you can see the pretty rainbow out on the horizon.” Dolores Lewis Garcia. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection     260p

10 Laguna. Jar, c. 1900. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection     261p

11 Acoma. Jar, 1890-1920. “The first time you pour water in the water jar, you can hear the sizzle. The reason is, the water is going into the pores of the pottery. After a while, you can smell the earthly smell, and you get that sweet taste of water from our pottery.” Emma Lewis Mitchell. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   734p

12 Evelyn Cheromiah (b. 1928), Laguna. Jar, 1978. Evelyn Cheromiah was credited by ceramic expert Rick Dillingham as successfully reviving the making of large jars at Laguna. Acoma and Laguna Pottery, 1992. La-a7-3

15 Marie Z. Chino (1907-1982), Acoma. Jar, c. 1968. Marie Z. Chino began making pottery in the 1920s and was one of a limited number of potters who had the skill to make very large jars. Gift of Rex Arrowsmith   ac-a2-5

16 Acoma. Digging Stick, late 1800s-early 1900s.

“I was fortunate to have people growing tomatoes or green chili or fresh onions. Once you taste those things and then you go to the store and buy them, you realize there’s just such a big difference.” Laura Wachempino


1. Zuni. Shoulder blanket/dress, c. 1900. This woman’s dress was made by a superb weaver. It features tightly-spun yarns woven into a crisp diagonal twill with indigo diamond twill borders. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 154BL

2. Anderson Peynetsa (b. 1964), Zuni. Jar, 1983. The jar features the artist’s approach to two traditional motifs: the “deer’s house” design is traditionally painted to bring good luck in hunting. The deer’s house is formed by two feather designs. The water bird design is traditionally painted to ensure the water jar will never be empty. NA-SW-ZU-A7-46.

3. Randy Nahohai (b. 1957), Zuni. Jar, 1987. The maker was influenced by early Zuni corrugated wares, using a finger to make the indentations. He incorporated design elements from the rainbird style jars, with jagged lines for lightning and stepped clouds with hatching for rain. The break line represents the spirit of the pot and the maker. If you make the line continuous without a break, you are completing your own life. 4070-1.

4. Josephine, Milford and Randy Nahohai. (b. 1912, 1953, 1957), Zuni. Jar, 1983. “This is a pot that we all did. Mom made the pot, Randy designed it and I painted it. The design that we used on this pot is called rainbird, showing the movement of clouds as they’re coming in. This is my very first pot; that started my pottery career. Randy designed it and, of course, when he penciled in the design for me, it had to be this elaborate design, but eventually I got finished with it and now it has a home here.” Milford Nahohai, 2002. NA-SW-ZU-A7-44.

5. Zuni. Owl, late 1800s. Owls are considered a night guard. They call out when someone approaches. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 447P

6. Zuni. Owl, 1950s. There is a Zuni story of burrowing owls that do a dance for rain and that brings the frogs out. NA-SW-ZU-A7-39

7. Zuni. Canteen, c. 1900. Zuni potter Eileen Yatsattie said the designs on the little canteens represent vegetation, and the triangles with the hatched lines are weeds. The black triangles around the base also represent vegetation. Linking a water carrier to vegetation that depends on water makes these designs very appropriate. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 275P.

Milford Nahohai said that every home should have a dough bowl, stew bowl, water jar, canteen and corn meal bowl.

8.Zuni. Corn meal bowl, c. 1900. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 456P

11. Zuni. Canteen, c. 1900. Gift of C.G. Wallace. NA-SW-ZU-A7-29

12. Zuni. Water Jar, c. 1900. The deer painted on this jar have spotted bodies indicating that they are does or fawns instead of the more customary male deer. This jar has been used to hold water. The band of wear below the rim is caused by abrasion from the ladle handle that is hooked over the rim. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 413P.

13. Zuni. Stew Bowl, c. 1900. Randy Nahohai described the rainbird design elements on the four sides as a prayer for rain from each of the four directions. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 410P.

9. Zuni. Water Jar, late 1800s. According to Randy Nahohai this is another version of a rainbird style water storage jar. The rainbird represents billowing clouds, the jagged lines represent lightning and the hatching is rain. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 462P.

10. Siu-Tesa (b. ), Zuni. Water jar, 1918. Wallace described this as a small girl’s water jar. Gift of C. G. Wallace. NA-SW-ZU-A7-26

14. Zuni. Jar, c. 1900. According to Milford Nahohai this jar has a hanging cloud design. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 804P.

15. Tsiayuditsa (b.   ), Zuni. Storage Jar, c. 1900. Josephine Nahohai identified the maker, known for large storage jars. Design elements include floral medallions and rainbirds, linking rain to the growth of vegetation. Gift of Valley National Bank. NA-SW-ZU-A7-23.

Zuni Jewelry

Although Zuni is still a very close community, having relationships was critical back in my father’s day. We shared crops, food–everything. Jewelers worked together. My father collaborated with a number of different jewelers. Dan Simplicio, Jr., Zuni

Ancestral Zuni jewelry was made of stone and shell. Around 1872, Atsidi Chon, a Navajo, is thought to have taught silversmithing to La:niyadhi at Zuni. Because jewelry making is expensive, traders such as C.G. Wallace provided materials and tools to jewelers in return for payment by the piece or credit at the trader’s store.

Since the 1920s, jewelry has been an economic mainstay at Zuni. Jewelers usually work in the home and family members have worked together. As a child, Veronica Poblano remembers cranking a buffing wheel for her father, Leo Poblano’s, jewelry. By the 1930s, Zuni jewelry had a distinctive look featuring superb lapidary work with silver as a setting or background to the stone and shell. Jewelers created styles such as needlepoint that were distinctively Zuni. By the 1940s, power tools let jewelers further refine and detail the jewelry. Today, styles that were innovative in the 1940s have become classics. Contemporary jewelers are developing their own designs with new materials inspired by the wider world of ornament.

1 Zuni fetish necklace, 1920s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.

Juan de Dios (1882-1940s), Zuni.

2 Necklace, 1923.

3 Knifewing pin, 1934.

Gifts of Mr. C.G. Wallace.

Leekya Deyuse (1889-1966), Zuni. Known by first name only, Leekya became famous for his fetish jewelry and carvings. He was known to study a stone for hours until he could visualize the figure in the stone before carving (Deborah Slaney, Blue Gem, White Metal, 1998).

4 Necklace, 1939.

5 Fetish necklace, 1926

6 Necklace, 1935

7 Bear carving, 1940-1960

Gifts of Mr. C.G. Wallace

Leo Poblano (1905-1959), Zuni. Leo Poblano was one of the first carvers to use dot inlay as decorative elements in his carvings. According to Poblano’s daughter, Veronica, “He used to pick up rocks at his ranch in Nutria. He rarely had enough material to work with, so he would go hunt for different rocks for his carvings. He was known for doing elaborate birds.”

8 Carved figure, c. 1940. Gift of Katie Noe.

9 Bird, 1939. Gift of Mr. C.G. Wallace.

10 Frog, 1950s. Gift of Mr. C.G. Wallace.

11 Necklace, c. 1938. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols.

12 Veronica Poblano (B. 1951), Zuni. Rings, c. 1987.

According to Zuni jeweler Dan Simplicio, Jr., much of the large-format Zuni jewelry was made to be worn in ceremony by participants and spectators, and it also could be seen by the ancestors looking down showing that people are well and surrounded with beautiful things.

13 Lambert Homer (1917-1972), Zuni. Necklace, 1930s-1950s.

14 Warren Ondelacy (1898-1970s), Zuni. Bracelet, 1930s-1950s.

15 John Gordon Leak, Zuni. Pin, 1940s.

16 Jerry Dixon, Zuni. Bracelet, 1937.

17 Leekya Deyuse (1889-1966), Zuni. Bow guard, 1948.

Gifts of Mr. C.G. Wallace.

18 Zuni necklace, early 1940s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.

Frank Dishta (1902-1954), Zuni.

19 Necklace, 1938.

20 Earrings, 1936.


Teddy Weahkee (c. 1890-1965), Zuni.

21 Carved snake, 1929.

22 Inlaid figure, 1931.

Gifts of Mr. C.G. Wallace.

23 Edna Leki (b. about 1930), Zuni. Necklace, 1960s. Edna Leki is the daughter of skilled carver Teddy Weahkee, who inspired her to make carved jewelry. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols.

24 Dennis Edaakie (b. 19xx), Zuni. Pins, 1950-1978. Gifts of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Galbraith and the estate of Carolann Smurthwaite.

25 Christina Eustace (b. 1954), Cochiti-Zuni. Pins, 1983-1998. Gift of Jeanie Harlan and Heard Museum purchases.

Frank Vacit (b. 1915-XXXX), Zuni.

26 Necklace, 1932. Gift of Mr. C.G. Wallace.

27 Pin, 1920-1930. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.

28 Edith Tsabetsaye (b. 1940), Zuni. Bracelet and ring, 1998.

29 Dan Simplicio (1917-1969), Zuni. Bracelet and pin, 1940-1950. Gift of Mr. C.G. Wallace.

30 David Tsikewa, Zuni. Fetish necklace, late 1960s. Gift of Dennis and Janis Lyon.

31 Frank Vacit (1915-d. unknown), Zuni. Belt, 1948. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols     4033-240

32 Mary Kallestewa (1915-1980s), Zuni and Roger Skeet (c. 1900-1970), Navajo. Box, 1948. Mary Kallestewa used an inlay technique to create motifs related to water and rain on this box lid. Within the shell inlay is a tadpole and frog image. Both the frog and the tadpole are capped with clouds and have lightning bolts overhead. According to Deborah Slaney, C.G. Wallace would bring Zuni mosaic work for setting to the Navajo smiths in his employ or living in Zuni. Or, he would bring Navajo silverwork to the Zuni lapidarist with empty settings so the lapidary work could be customized to the overall form of the piece. Blue Gem, White Metal, 1998. Gift of C.G. Wallace     ZU-j-330

Lambert Homer (1917-1972), Zuni and Roger Skeet (c. 1900-1970), Navajo. Lambert Homer is perhaps best known for his mosaic work over orange spiny oyster shells.

33 Tobacco canteen, 1940s.   Zu-j-63

34 Belt, 1945.   Zu-j-285

35 Leekya Deyuse (1889-1966), Zuni and Roger Skeet (c. 1900-1970), Navajo. Belt, 1943. This belt combines the carved turquoise bears of Leekya and silverwork of Roger Skeet.     Na-j-305

Home at Hopi


When I think of home, I picture the mesas. We live out in the desert with beautiful colors, wide-open space and the blue skies. Ruby Chimerica, Hopi

We see ourselves as caretakers of that piece of the earth that we use. We have respect for the heavens, the stars, the moon, the sun and nature itself, the clouds, rain, snow. What makes us whole is to recognize and respect all these things and their seasons. We live on a definite calendar, planting season, katsina season, home dance, are all dictated to us by Mother Nature. Albert Sinquah, Sr. Hopi-Tewa

Home for the Hopi people is 12 mesa-top villages in northeastern Arizona, but home is also the place of the Katsinam on the San Francisco Peaks. Hopi migration stories tell of clans gathering from every direction. Traditionally, the Hopi have grown corn, squash, melons, beans and fruit trees on land that receives less than 10 inches of precipitation a year. Corn is more than a staple food. It is deeply entwined within a way of life and a value system that prizes virtues of humility, respect, caring for others and caring for the earth.


We would get along better as a people if we really could talk the Hopi language together. Some English words seem harsh even if you really don’t mean that. In Hopi, it’s soft and it really means something. Karen Kahe Charley, Hopi

Family and Community

Our clan is small; it’s the whole family, my sisters and my aunts and their kids. We’re all related and that just makes us a big family. Karen Kahe Charley, Hopi

As an educator, I see the positive change from Hopi High School being built. More youngsters are around the culture all year not just in summer when they come home from boarding school.Albert Sinquah, Sr., Hopi-Tewa

There are 34 living clans at Hopi. Some clans are linked through migration stories. Each clan has a common ancestor and lineage is traced through the mother. Aunts and uncles have important and specific family roles at Hopi.

Some of the communities at Hopi are quite old. People have been living at Orayvi since at least A.D. 1150, making it the oldest, continuously inhabited community in the U.S. The Tewa people from the east settled one of the villages, Hanoki. They were invited by the Hopis to help defend their people and crops from enemy tribes.

Today, the village communities are, in many respects, independent. In recent decades governance changed with the creation of an elected tribal council providing central government for matters that affect all Hopi.

The Hopi Wedding

In a traditional Hopi wedding, months of ritual exchanges between the families of the bride and groom take place before the wedding is complete.

A central event in the whole wedding process occurs when the bride goes to her groom’s mother’s house. Her hair is worn in a set of poli’ini, or “butterfly hair whorls,” which is the customary style of unmarried women. For three days, she grinds corn. Before sunrise on the fourth day, her hair is taken down, and she and her groom have their hair individually washed by their future mothers-in-law. Their hair is then washed together in a single bowl to symbolize that they are now one.

Then the couple walks along the east side of the village toward the rising sun. Holding a pinch of cornmeal to their lips, each offers a prayer for prosperity and a long life together. On completion of their prayers, they sprinkle the meal toward the rising sun. They return to the house as man and wife.

Wedding Robes

In the days following their wedding, the couple remains at the groom’s mother’s home while he and his male relatives complete the weaving of the bride’s wedding robes. When they are finished, she is dressed by her husband’s family and wears her robes on a ritual journey to her mother’s house, where the couple will reside.

Today, couples may wait a few years after their civil marriage ceremony to complete the traditional wedding. If children have been born before the Hopi wedding ceremony, they also will receive Hopi traditional woven clothing.

Robe Tassel And Prayer Feather

The tassel of the wedding robe is called qaao-corn. The feather on the robe is a prayer-wish for the health and happiness of the bride and her children to come.

Embroidered Blood Line

The embroidered line symbolizes the life-giving bloodline — or umbilical cord — from mother to baby.

Reed Mat

Two white robes are woven for the bride. For the bride’s journey home, one is worn and the other is rolled in a reed mat, which she holds in her arms. Traditionally, all of the wedding garments were rolled in this mat for storage. One of the bride’s robes is kept until she dies, when she will be buried in it.

Women who have completed their traditional Hopi wedding in the months previous to Niman ceremony are presented to the Katsinam in their new wedding robes. Dressed in her robes, each new bride receives a special, elaborate Katsina doll from the Katsinam, representing special blessings for motherhood. If she has children, they too will wear their new Hopi clothing and accompany their mother. The children will also receive special gifts from the Katsinam.

Hopi Pottery

Sometimes when I work on a pot and I’ve really worked hard on it and I want to go to the next step, my mom comes and she inspects it and tells me, “No, it’s not ready for the next step. You take it back and do it over again.” She wouldn’t say that to anybody else except me. Karen Kahe Charley, Hopi

Today, individual Hopi potters are widely appreciated by collectors of Native art. Historically, Hopi pottery was utilitarian and produced on all three Hopi mesas. From the 14th through the 16th centuries, black on yellow pottery of the Hopi region was one of the most widely traded ceramics of its time. By the 1900s, utilitarian Hopi pottery production had declined as metal containers became more widely available. Pottery revived as an art form when potters at First Mesa, led by Nampeyo, developed styles based on pottery fragments found at the ancient site of Sikyatki. One of the first artists to be known by name, Nampeyo was the first of a family dynasty of potters. For years, the Nampeyo family and other families made First Mesa the exclusive pottery-making center, and it remains a center for traditional pottery today. As the collector market has developed, men are pursuing what was once a woman’s art, and potters are pursuing innovations in both form and surface treatment.

Hopi. Jar, 1905-1910. Potter Mark Tahbo commented on the unusual design below the rim on this jar. Instead of featuring abstract bird feathers or beaks, the entire bird is depicted. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection                 506P

Annie Nampeyo (c. 1884-1968) or Daisy Hooee (1910-1994), Hopi-Tewa. Jar, 1920s. Originally purchased as the work of Nampeyo (c. 1862-1942), this jar may have been made by her daughter, Annie Nampeyo, or by Annie’s daughter, Daisy Hooee. Abstract designs of bird feathers were painted on the jar.             HO-A7-30

Dextra Quotskuyva (b. 1928), Hopi-Tewa. Jar, 1976. Dextra Quotskuyva is known to paint complex patterns inspired by the pottery of her great-grandmother, Nampeyo.         HO-A&-159

Steve Lucas (b. 1955), Hopi-Tewa. Jar, 2001. Steve Lucas’ aunt, Dextra Quotskuyva, taught him how to make these large-diameter, low-shoulder jars. The designs on this jar are derived from pottery by Lucas’ great-great grandmother, Nampeyo. Gift of the family of Marcia L. Katterhenry in loving memory                     4127-1

Grace Chapella (1874-1980), Hopi-Tewa. Bowl, 1950s. Potter Mark Tahbo has described the designs on his great-grandmother’s jar as being a type of landscape. Grace Chapella depicted the three Hopi mesas with “x” elements denoting the fields below the mesas. The curved, wave-like element is a stylized water pattern. The black columns represent the buttes seen from First Mesa looking south toward the Navajo Nation around Seba Dalkai. The butterfly motif is a figure that Chapella derived from the Sikyatki bowls she saw being excavated that had a moth design on them. Chapella made her butterfly with curled antennas surrounded with dots of pollen representing germination or fertility. Her butterflies have a heartline ending in an arrow-shaped heart. Gift of Mrs. Scott L. Libby, Jr.                   HO-A7-173

Polingaysi Qöyawayma (1892-1990), Hopi. Canteen, 1966. Polingaysi Qöyawayma’s distinctive method of pushing the clay from the inside of the vessel to form a design was often used to create ears of corn on her pottery. She uses that technique here to create a moth design. Bequest of Polingaysi Elizabeth Qöyawayma                 3413-1

Al Qöyawayma (b. 1938), Hopi. Jar, 1980. Al Qöyawayma used the techniques of working with the clay learned from his aunt, Polingaysi Qöyawayma, but the design was of his own creation. Gift of Jerry and Lois Jacka               4187-20

Attributed to Nampeyo (1862-1942), Hopi-Tewa. Jar, 1920s. Although this jar was purchased by Maie and Dwight Heard as the work of Nampeyo, family members have suggested that it may have been made by Daisy Hooee or Rachel Nampeyo.     HO-A&-31

Nampeyo (1862-1942), Hopi-Tewa. Jar, early 1900s. Nampeyo demonstrated potterymaking for the Fred Harvey Company in 1905 and 1907 at Hopi House at the Grand Canyon. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection     495P

Rondina Huma (b. 1947), Hopi-Tewa. Jar, 1994. Gift of Richard and Carolyn Morgan       4043-34

Hopi. Canteen, late 1800s. Water serpents flank a turtle on this water carrier collected at Polacca, Arizona.                       HO-a7-36

Joy Navasie (b. 1919), Hopi-Tewa. Jar, 1970s. This accomplished potter inherited her mother’s pottery signature, a frog. Both Navasie and her mother, Paqua Naha, have been called Frog Woman because of the signature. Gift of Mr. Charles Benton             Ho-a7-139

Hopi. Canteen, 1880-1910. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection           496p

Emma Adams, Hopi. Piki batter bowl, early 1900s. Marcella Kahe identified this as the work of her mother. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection           650p

Lena Charlie, Hopi-Tewa. Canteen, 1950-1960. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection         702p

Paqua Naha (c. 1890-1955), Hopi-Tewa. Bowl, 1960s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection           805p

Preston Duwyenie (b. 1951), Hopi. Jar, 1984-1987. “The pottery I make is a collaborative work between myself and the clay. It was through unsuccessful attempts in my earlier years to produce such a pot that Clay Woman taught me patience. She tells me to go slow and create one coil at a time and allow that to stand and stiffen before I add another piece. I received her teachings in that way and, in order to produce that piece of artwork, it has taken numerous years of trial and error. Being attuned to Clay Woman’s teachings, listening to it and feeling it within the heart, that is how I learned patience.” Preston Duwyenie. Gift of the family of Thomas and Elizabeth Pickard 4197-1

Hopi. Ladle, c. 1900. Gift of Mrs. Dove E. Smith in memory of Mrs. Helen Funston Harding     Ho-a2-13

Hopi. Ladle, early 1900s According to advisor Karen Kahe Charley, this would have been used as a dipper for stew.       Ho-a7-25

Hopi. Polacca polychrome bowl, late 1800s.             Ho-a7-143

Garnet Pavetea (1915-1981), Hopi-Tewa. Bowl, 1970s. Gift of Mr. Charles Benton         Ho-a12-12


Every year, Hopi farmers plant their fields of blue corn, white corn, multi-colored corn and sweet corn. Each type of corn has a specific purpose in Hopi lifeways. In drought years, farmers find it difficult to harvest a successful crop. Additionally, animals such as rabbits, prairie dogs and crows seek food and raid the fields before the corn has fully matured for harvesting.

Piki is made from blue corn that has been ground into cornmeal and uniquely prepared into bread. Once made by all Pueblo people, today it is more commonly made at Hopi. Hopis eat it during ceremonies, everyday meals and as a snack, making it an important food for the Hopi, while for other tribes it is considered a delicacy. Girls are first taught to make piki during their corn grinding ceremony, also known as a girl’s puberty ceremony.

Traditionally, corn was hand-ground on grinding stones to prepare corn meal. Today, Hopi women grind their corn with an electric meal grinder, which makes it easier to achieve the fineness needed. Only if they do not have access to an electric one will they grind by hand. The exception is during the corn grinding ceremony, when all the meal grinding is done on stones.

Piki Making

First, the piki stone is prepared for cooking. A good piki stone is made from a flat sandstone with a smooth surface, prepared and cured with multi-layers of different oils and grease. The stone is uncovered, and any wood ashes under the stone are removed. A new fire with cedar wood is lighted under the stone to heat it. Once the fire has been established, the batter may be prepared.

Finely ground blue cornmeal, along with salt brush ashes and water, is used to make piki. If salt brush ash is not available then baking soda may be used, although this gives it a slightly different flavor. The mixture is made into a thick, watery, lump-free batter.

The piki maker sits beside the piki stone with the fire opening on her right. This enables her to add more wood as needed while cooking. The piki stone is then greased with a small amount of rich fat, either cow brain or bone marrow, which is sparingly applied between each batter application. When the stone is considered hot enough, the piki batter is scooped up by the bare right hand and spread onto the stone in quick, wave-like movements. When the sides of the piki sheet begin to curl, the layer is carefully peeled off whole and laid to the side. When it cools slightly, the piki sheet is rolled or folded, depending on what the bread is being prepared for.

After all the piki batter is used, the firewood is cleared out from under the stone. The stone is allowed to cool down for a few hours before it is covered for protection. Great care is given to one’s piki stone, for it is a special possession.

Piki is always eaten during ceremonies and given during ceremonial food exchanges. Piki is great eaten with watermelon!

 Hopi Katsinas/Katsinam

Songs the Katsinas sing in Hopi tell us how we should treat each other. They tell us how we should treat the land and how we are going to get blessed if we become the humble people that we should be. Ruby Chimerica, Hopi

Katsinas are the spirit messengers of the universe representing all things in the natural world as well as Hopi ancestors. After death, a Hopi continues a spiritual existence as a life-sustaining Katsina. When Katsinas appear as rain clouds, they bring prayers for nourishment of the earth, moisture and a long life for all mankind.

Katsina Dolls

The cultural and religious belief of Hopi people is that Katsinam bring the ti’tihu (Katsina dolls) in their likeness as gifts for the young girls. Each gift represents a prayer wish for good health, growth and fertility. With this daily reminder in the home, young girls remember the Katsinam and their teachings. Male family members may assist in the learning process by casually singing bits of Katsina songs within the home to remind others of the prayer songs shared.

The first tihu given to babies is Hahai’i wuhti (Mother of the Katsinam). Male babies also receive Hahai’i wuhti along with other gifts. When a young girl receives a tihu, she is either allowed to play with it or it is hung on the wall as a reminder of the Katsinam. Girls receive them from the time they are born until they are initiated into Katsina society. They may receive a tihu during Powamuya (Bean Dance) and the Niman ceremony (Home Dance).

Hopi Ceremonial Cycle

The religion of the Hopi people is a complex, holistic belief system referred to as “being Hopi.” Religious ceremonies, including prayers and songs, are all a part of a completely defined and orderly ritual cycle. Each ceremony has a specific purpose. The central theme throughout Hopi ceremonies is prayer for a lasting and harmonious balance in the universe for all life as well as the nourishment of corn, “mother corn,” the food of life.

The Hopi religious cycle is initiated in November, during Wuwusimt. Winter solstice marks the beginning of the new year with prayers for all life and the world. Katsina ceremonies are an important part of this ceremonial cycle, to which half of the year is committed. The Katsinam first appear in the Hopi villages in January and are seen at intervals until they return to their homes in July. Katsinam are the spirit messengers of the universe, bringing prayers for nourishment of the earth, moisture and a long life for all mankind. Renewal ceremonies are completed each year to maintain the balance of harmony and nourishment for all life.

Soyalung Ceremony

Soyalung, the Winter Solstice Ceremony, signifies the beginning of the sun’s journey to its summer house. The days begin to grow longer, and preparations begin for the planting season. Prayers are conducted for universal life renewal to ensure a long, healthy, nourishing life as well as bountiful crops. Ahöla is the first ceremonial figure to appear in the village to symbolically open the village’s doors. He makes ceremonial markings by each doorway to welcome the return of the Katsinam. Other Katsinam who conduct specific rituals eventually accompany Ahöla to assist in this important beginning.

Powamuya/Bean Dance

With the entrances of the ceremonial kiva chambers opened by Ahöla, Katsina ceremonies may commence. For four days before Powamuya, the Whipper Katsinam, powerful spirit beings, begin returning to the villages in the evening. They check to see if the people are living according to the Hopi way.

At sunrise on the day of Powamuya, two Qöqöqli appear in the village with their baskets full of bean sprout bundles and gifts for the children. Each household matriarch receives a miraculous bundle of fresh bean sprouts with bits of earth still clinging to their roots. The children receive special gifts. The boys receive brightly painted gourd rattles, lightening sticks, and possibly a new pair of moccasins. The girls receive Katsina dolls, masumpi (dancing wands), and maybe a basket plaque. These wonderful gifts from the Katsinam tell the children they are special and encourage them to behave properly in the Hopi way. Children between the ages of 9 and 15 are initiated into Katsina society during Powamuya. They receive religious teachings about being Hopi and purification of life.

At night, when the Powamuya Katsinam are in the kiva, only those who have completed the Katsina initiation may see the dance. These colorful Katsinam bring special prayers through their songs for a renewed year.


Powamuya continues the purification of life with the So’so’yoktu, Ogre Katsina spirits. So’yok’wuhti (Ogre Woman) appears in the village, stopping at each home where she selfishly demands food that will take skill and many hours to make. She also checks to see if people are living the Hopi ways.

Evolution of Carving

Katsina dolls are carved from cottonwood roots, which embody a spiritual prayer for moisture and growth. Each carving represents a specific Katsina spirit. Outside interest in Katsinam and carved figures began in the late 1800s. Since that time, Katsina doll carvings have become a popular item in the cultural art market. Carving styles of Katsina dolls have changed over the years from simple, natural-colored representations of Katsinam to complicated, stylized sculpture. Buyers requested that carvers sign the dolls with a distinguishing mark. Carvers now sign their carvings either with a name, initials or clan symbol. To Hopis, the carvings themselves are signatures of the carver. Katsina doll carvers are constantly seeking innovative ways to present Katsinam: in ceremonial groupings, in storytelling scenes or in an action pose appropriate to the Katsina being represented.

Other ceremonial figures that are not Katsinam are also represented through carvings. Popular non-Katsina figures are male buffalo dancers, butterfly maidens, sacred clowns and mythological beings.

The Goldwater Katsina Doll Collection

My fondest wish for the future of this collection is that students of all ages will be able to visit and study it and emerge with a full understanding of what the Katsina means.

–Senator Barry M. Goldwater

Around 1913, architect John Rinker Kibbey began collecting Hopi Katsina dolls. A few years later, he took a friend’s son, Barry Goldwater, on one of his collecting trips to the Hopi villages on top of the mesas. This experience began Goldwater’s lifelong love of the culture, land and people of the region. Shortly after World War II, Goldwater bought Kibbey’s collection, adding it to his own. In all he acquired more than 400 dolls including more than 90 that he commissioned from carver Oswald “White Bear” Fredericks. In 1964, Goldwater donated the entire collection to The Heard Museum.

Hopi Weaving

Hopi textiles are worn today, as they were in the past, in Hopi ceremonies. Traditionally, weaving was done by Hopi men and comes from a complex ancestral tradition of woven cotton. With the introduction of Spanish sheep, weavers added wool to their tool kits. Because weaving was done to produce ceremonial garments, it continued even when the introduction of machine-made cloth and the adoption of western-style clothing meant every day garments did not need to be woven. Children removed from home and taken to boarding schools had their traditional clothing destroyed and replaced with uniforms. For a time in the late 1800s, Hopi weaving was an important trade item to the New Mexico pueblos, where the cloth would be embroidered in the manner appropriate to the purchaser’s pueblo. Today, the time-consuming aspect of weaving means that more ceremonial garments are hand-embroidered by women on machine-made cloth. However, a few younger men continue the weaving tradition.

Hopi. Man’s wearing blanket, 1870s-1880s. Hopi men weave clothing for their families. This striped blanket contains raveled bayeta yarns. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   299bl

Hopi. Kilt, early 1900s. This is a man’s kilt worn only in ceremony. The design features rain clouds with red vertical stripes below, signifying sun shining through the rain. The handwoven cotton fabric is embroidered with wool designs. The kilt is worn in ceremonies to encourage rain. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   337BL

Hopi. Sash, early 1900s. This handwoven sash is made of cotton with a brocaded wool design. The sash is worn in various ceremonies and may be worn with a kilt. Na-SW-Ho-C-18

Hopi. Leggings, early 1900s. These leggings were being knitted at Shungopovi Village on Second Mesa when they were collected. The needles are large sewing needles. According to Kate Peck Kent, the Spanish introduced the technique of knitting in the 17th century. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   691CI-A

Hopi. Leggings, mid-1900s. These wool leggings are worn by men in ceremony. They also may be seen on Koyemsi (Mudhead) Katsinam when they appear during a ceremony. Gift of Mr. William and Louise McGee Na-SW-Ho-C-94

Hopi. Weaving kit, c. 1930. This partially completed sash shows how the design was woven in, using a brocading technique, rather than being embroidered on after the sash was completed. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   708CI

Hopi. Girl’s shawl, early 1900s. Shawls of this style may be considered a maiden’s shawl. It is worn in ceremonial dress wear. Often, a grandfather will weave the shawl for his granddaughter. NA-SW-Ho-C-9

Hopi. Rain sash, early 1900s. This cotton sash is made with a technique called sprang that is a type of braiding. NA-SW-Ho-C- 38

Hopi. Man’s shirt, early 1900s. This is the classic style of wool shirt worn by Hopi men before commercial cloth became prevalent. NA-SW-HO-C-51

Luther Honeyestewa, Hopi. Man’s moccasins. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III NA-SW-HO-C-57A

Hopi. Wedding robe, mid-1900s. The male relatives of the groom will weave his bride’s wedding robe during the ritual wedding ceremony. During this time, the bride provides the meals to the weaver of her robes. NA-SW-HO-C-74

Hopi. Belt, mid-1900s. These are the traditional colors of a Hopi woven belt. This type of belt may be worn during ceremonies or for special dress wear. Gift of William and Louise McGee NA-SW-HO-C-80

Hopi. Belt loom, early 1900s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   620ci

Hopi. Loom, early 1900s. The weaver who owned this kit was making a pair of man’s garters. One garter is completed, and one is still on the loom. He kept the kit wrapped in a flour sack from the Lamar Milling and Elevator Company. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   710Ci a-c

Hopi. Man’s blue kilt or breechcloth, mid-1900s. Historically, this was worn by men in their mid-30s and older. Once cotton cloth and White man’s clothing were introduced, breechcloths were worn by men only during special ceremonies. Gift of Byron Hunter NA-SW-HO-C-138

Harvey Lomahaftewa, Hopi. Hair tie kit, 1950s-1960s. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William Clore NA-SW-HO-L-2

Hopi. Handspun cotton yarn, 1960s. Yarn that has been cleaned and prepared for weaving is spun and kept in a ball. A weaver will spin yarn until sufficient yarn is prepared for weaving a garment.

Hopi Jewelry

As far as I am concerned, it is the Katsinas who are giving us the wealth of ideas and talent we have. Charles Loloma, Hopi

Two major developments in Hopi jewelry have brought it to the distinctive and highly regarded place it holds today. The first development was the creation of the overlay style. Overlay means a thin sheet of silver with a fine design cut in it is overlaid onto a solid piece of sheet silver. The cutout design is blackened for accent. Efforts to develop a style unique to Hopi were begun by Mary-Russell Colton, a founder of the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. When Hopi veterans of World War II returned home, a G.I. training program led by Paul Saufkie and Fred Kabotie offered 18 months of training in jewelry making. It opened a career path that could be pursued at home.

The second major development in Hopi jewelry was the innovative work of Charles Loloma. Loloma combined stones and wood in elegant shapes. His jewelry presented an entirely original vision that broke from the conventions of Indian jewelry. The result has inspired subsequent generations of jewelers far beyond Hopi. At Hopi, community efforts aimed at inspiring further innovation continue.

Charles Loloma (1921-1991), Hopi. One of the most innovative jewelers of the 20th century, Charles Loloma has influenced contemporary jewelers through his use of unusual stones and creative designs.

1 Hopi. Turquoise mosaic earrings, early 1900s.   Ho-j-1

2 Paul Saufkie (1898-1998), Hopi. Bracelet, 1946. Paul Saufkie and Fred Kabotie worked with Hopi GIs returning from World War II to develop a unique jewelry style of overlaying one sheet of metal with a design cut out over another sheet of metal. This experimental bracelet in copper incorporates both the overlay technique and stamped designs. Gift of Lawrence Saufkie     4048-1

3 Hopi. Bracelets, 1940s. These bracelets incorporate the overlay technique, applique silver and stamped designs. Gift of C.G. Wallace       Ho-j-57, 58, 59

4 Bernard Dawahoya (b. 1937), Hopi. Silver jar, 2002.       4206-1

5 Howard Sice (b. 1948), Hopi/Laguna. Silver miniature jar, c. 1980. Gift of Dick Shefrin     4211-20

6 Ray Sequaptewa, Sr., Hopi. Belt, 1986. This pictorial belt, done in traditional overlay technique, features scenes from Hopi history and ceremony. Gift of Mr. James T. Bialac     3579-1

7 Delbridge Honanie (b. 1946), Hopi. Belt, 1965-1970. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols     4033-26a

8 Hopi. Belt, c. 1950. Gift of Victor N. and Amy Leone Nelson   Ho-j-118

9 Morris Robinson (1900-1987), Hopi. Footed bowl, 1950s.         4166


1 Bernard Dawahoya (b. 1937), Hopi. Bracelets, 1965-1972. Gifts of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Galbraith and Woodard’s Indian Arts           j-33, 3309-76, j-55

2 Walter Polelonema (d. 1971), Hopi. Bracelet, 1969. J-19

3 Wallie Sekayumptewa, Hopi. Bracelet, 1969. J-5

4 Hopi. Bracelet, 1960s-1970s. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Galbraith 3309-33

5 Lawrence Saufkie (b. 1935), Hopi. Bracelet, 1976. Gift of the artist j-60

6 Jackson Seklestewa, Hopi. Bracelet, c. 1975. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Galbraith   3309-34

7 Phillip Honanie (b. 1943), Hopi. Bracelets, c. 1971. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols           4033-218, 219

8 Arthur or Hubert Yowtewa, Hopi. Pin, c. 1965. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Galbraith                 3309-79

9 Hopi. Pin, 1972. J-38

10 Patrick Lomawaima, Hopi. Buckle, 1969 J-14

11 Bernard Dawahoya, Hopi. Buckle, c. 1974. Gift of Woodard’s Indian Arts j-53

12 Roy Talahaftewa (b. 1955), Hopi. Bolo, 1990s. Gift in memory of Richard L. Rogers   4236-6

13 Gary Yoyokie (b. 1953), Hopi and Elsie Yoyokie (b. 1951), Navajo. Bolo ties, 1990s. Gifts in memory of Richard L. Rogers and gift of Sonia and Stanley Cohen 3660-1, 4236-4,7

Lawrence Saufkie (b. 1935), Hopi.

14 Bolo tie, 1990s. Gift in memory of Richard L. Rogers   4236-3

15 Bracelet, 1970s. Gift of Harry L. and Claradell G. Shedd           j-111

16 Bracelet, c. 1974. Gift of Woodard’s Indian ArtsJ-54

17 Bracelet, c. 1975. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry S. Galbraith 3309-6

18 Buckle, 1970s. Gift of Harry L. and Claradell G. SheddJ-109

19 Hopi. Pins, 1967-1969. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III J-8, 30

20 Weaver Selina (b. 1944), Hopi. Pins, 1969-1974. Gift of Woodard’s Indian Arts         J-20, 51

21 Leroy Kewanyama (1922-1987), Hopi. Pins, 1950-1969. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Galbraith J-11, 3309-77, 62

Morris Robinson (1900-1987), Hopi.

22 Necklace, 1950s Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols 4033-90

23 Bracelet, late 1930s-early 1940s. 3500-1

24 Butterfly pin, 1940s. 3712-1

25 Bracelet, 1950s. J-45

26 Phillip Honanie (b. 1943), Hopi. Necklace, 1970s. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols   4033-86

27 Ralph Tawangnaouma, Hopi. Bracelet and pin, 1940s. J-28, 27

28 Stephen Hyson Naseyoma, Hopi. Necklace, 1970s. Bequest of Edith Edward 3521-12


1 Bolo, early 1960s 4033-257

2 Bolo, 1980. Gift of Barbara Haas in memory of Alvin Haas 3662-6

3 Necklace, c. 1981. Gift of Dennis and Janis Lyon  Ho-j-73

4 Bracelet, 1975. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols 4033-246a

5 Earring and necklace, 1969. Gift of Mrs. John W. Kieckhefer ho-j-62, 63

6 Bracelet, 1975-1980. Gift of Barbara Haas in memory of Alvin Haas 3662-2

7 Bracelet, late 1950s Ho-j-98

8 Bracelet, 1977 3409-1

9 Bracelet, 1972 Ho-j-32

10 Bracelet, 1970s 3453-2

11 Bracelet and earrings, 1967. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols 4033-189, 119 a,b

12 Bracelet, 1974-1975. Gift of Dennis and Janis Lyon 3540-2

13 Bracelet, 1970s. Gift of Dennis and Janis Lyon Ho-j-69

14 Ring, c. 1980. Gift of Leon Feinberg Ho-j-95

15 Rings, 1968-1978. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols4033-246b,85,ho-j-67, 4033-184

16 Clip bolo, 1971. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols 4033-189

17 Buckle, 1960s. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols 4033-204

18 Cuff links, 1960s. Gift of Barbara Haas in memory of Alvin Haas 3662-10a,b

19 Ramona Loloma Poleyma (b. 19XX), Hopi. Bracelet, 2003

20 Verma Nequatewa/Sonwai (b. 1949), Hopi. Pendant, 1993. Gift of Eric D. Tack in memory of Caroline Tack     3715-1

Victor Coochwytewa (b. 1922), Hopi.

21 Necklace, 1970s Ho-j-82

22 Buckle and bracelet, 1970s. Gift of Harry L. and Claradell G. Shedd Ho-j-108, 110

23 Pin, early 1950s 3821-1

24 Buckle, 1981-1982. Gift of Ruth and Robert Vogele 4148-1

25 Necklace, 1979. Gift of the Museum of Northern Arizona ho-j-70

26 Buckles, 1970-1975. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Galbraith 3309-7, 18

27 Bracelet, 1970s. Gift of Antonio J. Castille, M.D. 4053-2

Plateau Homelands

When people ask me where I was born, I always say, “In my father’s land.” Rena Martin, Navajo

The smell of pine, cedar, sage, and rabbit brush remind me of home. Vivienne Caron Jake, Kaibab Paiute

The Colorado Plateau is the name applied to an entire geologic province that includes the northern third of Arizona to the Grand Wash Cliffs, southern Utah, southwest Colorado and northwest New Mexico. Within that region are many smaller plateaus that vary in height. They include the Coconino Plateau at 6,000 feet, the Kanab Plateau at 5,000 feet and the Kaibab Plateau at 8,000 feet. The plateaus are composed of colorful layers of sedimentary rocks that have eroded into tablelands separated by canyons and cliffs with steep slopes. The creeks that cut down through the rocks are fed by seven to 13 inches of precipitation in a year.

Home in the Navajo Nation


The mountains remind me of home. It just feels like you’re in a big bowl, and you’re protected from all the outside forces. Michael Ornelas, Navajo

 The Navajo believe they were born of the Earth and call the dry and oftentimes harsh environment of the Four Corners region of the Colorado Plateau home. They refer to themselves as Dineh or “the People.”

Navajo oral tradition explains the placement of the Four Sacred Mountains that border their homeland. They are Blanca Peak near Alamosa, Colorado; Mount Taylor near Grants, New Mexico; Humphrey’s Peak near Flagstaff, Arizona; and Hesperus Peak near Durango, Colorado.

Located in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, the Navajo Nation is the largest population of tribal people in Arizona. Their reservation, approximately the size of West Virginia, is the largest federally recognized reservation in the United States.


If you have ceremonies and know your language, that ties you to the land.Timothy Begay, Navajo

Navajos feel great kinship to their homeland; every canyon and hill has a descriptive name. The language is still spoken widely in the Navajo Nation and many school curricula require students to read, write, and speak Navajo. In urban centers such as Phoenix, Navajo language and culture is taught to eager classes as Navajos strive to maintain their language.

 Family and Community

I never lived in a house that was just my biological brothers and sisters. We always had a cousin living with us or I lived at an aunt or uncle’s house. Today we live very different; the children aren’t raised together anymore, and when we get together we all have different daily activities. Steven Begay, Navajo

Knowing your clans and knowing where you come from is important, and you have allegiance to your family above all. Sierra Nizhonii Teller Ornelas, Navajo

Family is the foundation of Navajo society. Children are celebrated and included in everyday activities. When introducing themselves, Navajos consider it proper to identify first the clan they are born into (their mother), then the clan they are born for (their father). Next, they list the clan of their maternal grandfather followed by their paternal grandfather’s clan. After they’ve given their clans, they state their home community and then, finally, their name.

Navajo communities are small and spread out, with larger towns sprinkled throughout the reservation. There are 110 chapters or local governing bodies. Each has at least one council delegate who represents the chapter on the Navajo Nation Council. The capitol of the Navajo Nation is in Window Rock, Arizona, with a branch office located in Washington, D.C.

Navajo Hogan

This hogan is referred to as a female hogan because it simulates the roundness of the female body of Mother Earth. Once this was the primary Navajo home. While most Navajo families do not reside permanently in hogans today, their modern homes almost always include a hogan near the main house. Hogans are used for ceremonies that are still practiced by Navajo people including the Kinaalda, a coming-of-age ceremony for young Navajo women.

Often, family members spend quiet time in the hogan as a way to reconnect themselves with Navajo teachings and to remind themselves from where they have come.

The Emergence

(extended version of story)

At this time, the earth was small. It was the place of the water creatures. You can see a whale, frog and heron. Into this world came the Flying Insect People. They are shown flying around in this section and include ants, fire flies and bats (even though these are not insects in scientific lexicons). After a time, the Flying Insect People misbehaved and the Water People decided that they should leave their place. The Water People caused the waters to flood, forcing the Flying Insect People to rise up in the sky. There they met a Blue Bird or Swallow who invited them to come and live with them in the next or Second World.

The Second World is blue or turquoise. After a time, the Flying Insect People misbehaved again and the Swallow Chief decided that they had to leave their world. So the Swallow Chief contacted the Water People who again caused the water to flood. The Flying Insect People rose up to escape the water, and the wind spoke to them, inviting them into the Third World.

The Third World is the Yellow World. It is the place of the Locusts. Once again the Flying Insect People behaved badly, the water again rose and the wind showed the Flying Insect People the way to the Fourth World.

The Fourth World (the largest section in this painting) is where the Fur People live. These include all the animals with fur hides: deer, rabbits, etc. The Flying Insect People saw the four sacred mountains with snow on top. They also saw humans. One day, they heard a whistle coming from far away. Then the Holy People arrived and told everyone that they would be holding a ceremony in 12 days time. (If you look at the central image, you will see 12 Holy People around the square in the middle. The plants around the square are the four sacred plants: corn, beans, squash and tobacco).

On the 12th day, the Holy People returned and performed the ceremony. This created First Man and First Woman (symbolized by the hand in the middle of the square). First Man and First Woman started a family (shown off the lower right corner of the square). Two of their offspring (shown off the lower left corner of the square) made baskets and pottery.

After a time, men and women thought that they did not need each other, so they moved to opposite sides of the river (shown off the upper corners of the square). Coyote went back and forth between the men and women because Coyote realized that he needed to visit both to get enough to eat. Then Coyote decided that he wanted to start a family of his own. Coyote found a child and stole it. It turned out that the infant was the Child of Water. But the Water wanted the child back, and caused the floods to come again.

By this time, Men and Women were realizing that they missed and needed each other. They were concerned about the rising water. Then an old man and young boy appeared. They began to plant the various trees, but no plant was satisfactory. Finally they planted a reed that led to the Fifth World.

The Fifth World is the world in which we live now. When the people saw the reed they took their possessions and began climbing up through the reed. The animals did this too. The Turkey saw everyone else taking things with them, so he put beans and other foods under his feathers. Then he was so fat and heavy that he had trouble moving quickly. That is why he was the last one to go through the reed. The foam of the rising water touched his tail making the white mark on his feathers.

It was crowded in the reed, but a Holy Person was present and caused the first breaths to be taken. When the people and animals came out through the reed, the Holy People again created the four sacred mountains, First Man and First Woman and all things male and female. They sent the ducks out of the area, causing them to fly east and west. (This World is encompassed by the U-shaped rainbow, open to the East. Look for the Four Mountains, the Holy People, the corn plant, bear and mountain lion, and the ducks.)

Navajo Weaving

If you have an art passed down, you have a responsibility. I remember my mom telling me when I was little, even if you don’t become a weaver as a vocation, you still need to learn it. It’s part of who you are and part of what we do. It’s something you’re going have to carry on to your kids. Sierra Nizhonii Teller Ornelas, Navajo

Navajo weaving has always reflected the weaver’s individuality as well as the changes in use, available materials and market influence. By the late 1800s, with ready-made clothing and cloth available through traders, weavers changed from weaving garments to weaving floor coverings to sell to Anglo-Americans. Around the 1930s, regional rug styles began developing. The styles had names drawn from place names and names of trading posts on the reservation such as Two Grey Hills and Wide Ruins. For several decades, the style of rug a weaver wove reflected her home area. By the late 20th century, weavers were weaving the styles they enjoyed, regardless of where they lived. A weaver might have two looms with textiles of very different styles in progress at the same time. Other weavers enjoy working with revivals of old styles. Many finely woven textiles today are meant to hang on the wall and be enjoyed as art.


1   Bessie Taylor (b. about 1950), Navajo. Rug, 1982. In this pictorial textile, the weaver presents scenes of home, including hogans and mobile homes. A Yé’ii bichei Ceremony is in progress. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Foutz.   Na-r-536

2 Della Woody (         ), Navajo. Yé’ii bichei textile, c. 1977. This textile depicts a Yé’ii bichei Ceremony that includes references to rain. The figure of Watersprinkler on the left is the water carrier for the gods and produces rain. Gift of Mr. Richard F. Chedester.   Na-r-493

3 Navajo. Germantown textile, c. 1885. Trains had only recently been seen on Navajo lands when this textile was woven. The letters may have come from words on the train or from newly introduced commercially packaged products. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   86bl

4 Navajo. Textile, c. 1900. The Navajo woman depicted on this textile is surrounded by design elements drawn from commercial products that were sold at trading posts. Banner lard is one of the products that caught the weaver’s eye. Weavers incorporated isolated letters or numbers into their textiles as interesting graphic elements. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 351bl

5 Joann Johnson (b. 1964), Navajo. “High Moon Over Monument Valley,” 2002.     4170-1

6 Elsie Holiday, (b. 1965), Navajo. Basket, “Bicentennial Train,” 1990s. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. E. Daniel Albrecht.   Alb-b-1

7 Elsie Holiday, (b. 1965), Navajo. Basket, “Old #9 Train,” 1998. This is one of a series of baskets woven to depict the various types of trains that crossed the Navajo Nation over the years. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. E. Daniel Albrecht.   Alb-b-2

Navajo Saddle Blankets and Bridles

To the Navajo, horses were a gift from the Holy People and represent wealth and status in Navajo society. They are considered to be the property of the men of the family and are cared for accordingly. Horses take on various roles in many ceremonies and are sometimes given to the family of the bride in a wedding.

In the mid-1800s, Navajo silversmiths began crafting elaborate ornamentation for their horses’ bridles. Some of the more common design elements found on these pieces are the naja and the pomegranate blossom. Saddle blankets were woven by the women, and unique patterns developed that identified the woven piece as a saddle blanket.


1 Navajo. Saddle blanket, 1920-1940. This is a double saddle blanket with an open center design. It would have been doubled under the saddle with the borders showing at front and back. It is accented with decorative tassels. Gift of Mr. C.G. Wallace.   Na-r-306

2 Navajo. Pictorial saddle blanket, 1910-1920.     Na-r-74

3 Navajo. Saddle blanket, 1980. This saddle blanket is a modern style with a traditional twill weave.   Na-r-510

4 Navajo. Tufted saddle blanket, c. 1959 The foundation of this textile is woven of sheep’s wool, but the long hair on the surface is from goat hair that has been tufted or inserted in the weave. Only a few weavers continue to make this type of textile. These were often used as saddle throws, over the top of a saddle, or as a pad for a weaver sitting at a loom.     Na-r-77

5 Christine McHorse (b. 1948), Navajo. Canteen, c. 1987. [you can cut=filler]This contemporary canteen contains has a design of a horse and is further decorated with sections of horsehair. Christine McHorse is known for making pottery with micaceous clay. The mica looks like glitter in the clay composition.   4070-4

6 Navajo. Bridle and bit, c. 1950. Brass was sometimes used instead of silver.   Na-q-3

7 Navajo. Bridle, early 1900s. The older silver bridles usually were made from American silver coins and later, Mexican silver coins. The earliest bridles were very plain, and some had designs marked with awls. Later bridles had stamped designs, and some were set with turquoise. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   427s-a

8 Attributed to Atsidi Chon, Navajo. Headstall, c. 1875, 28 x 17. Atsidi Chon is one of the earliest Navajo silversmiths to be distinguished by name. He is credited with being the person who taught Zuni silversmith La:niyahdi metal working around the 1870s. Gift of The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.   2769-266

Navajo Clothing

My grandma always wore skirts, pretty velvet blouses and all her jewelry. She’d be herding sheep and you could see her pins flashing and hear her necklace jingling against her conchos or silver buttons. As a traditional person, you’re always supposed to look presentable for the sun to greet you. Rena Martin, Navajo

Early historical clothing styles included woven mantas for the women and wearing blankets for the men. Wearing blankets became popular on the trade market in the 1800s and were exchanged with tribal leaders from other regions, like the Great Plains, thus earning the name “Chief Blanket.”

After the Bosque Redondo era in the late 1800s, Navajo women started wearing long full skirts and velvet blouses. The men began wearing cotton shirts and trousers, reflecting the influences of European-American attire.

Today, clothing styles include the woven blanket dress as well as the velvet blouse and long full skirts of calico or satin. Women’s moccasins are crafted from cowhide and buckskin, and the buckskin wraps around the legs to the knee. Men’s moccasins are made from red cowhide.

Turquoise and silver jewelry is always worn. Many young Navajo women wear their woven dresses for special occasions such as school graduations, weddings and traditional ceremonies.


1 Navajo. Germantown textile, 1875-1880. Much of the yarn used to create these brightly colored, aniline-dyed textiles was from Germantown, Pennsylvania. This textile typifies the “eyedazzler” name given to some of the more brilliant designs. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   219bl

2 Navajo. Sarape, 1800-1850. The bayeta was dyed with lac dye, which fits with the early date of the textile. It is the only known Navajo serape that employs cotton wefts. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   186bl

3 Navajo. First Phase Chief Blanket, 1800-1850. Men’s wearing blankets, woven in the 1800s, became known as “Chief” Blankets because they were highly prized and often owned by individuals of importance. The First Phase style has a banded pattern. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   196bl

4 Navajo. Second Phase Chief Blanket, c. 1850-1865. The Second Phase style of Chief Blankets has blocks of color added to the banded pattern. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. 288bl

5 Navajo. Poncho, 1840-1860. Classic period ponchos were created with an extremely tight weave that was warm as well as nearly waterproof. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   231bl

6 Hosteen Klah (1867-1938), Navajo. Textile, c. 1921. This piece is thought to be the first sandpainting rug that Hosteen Klah wove. It depicts the sandpainting called “Whirling Logs” from the Night Chant. Klah was a respected medicine man who was the first to weave images from ceremonies into textiles. Gift of Mr. Read Mullan. Na-r-278

“In times of surplus, in times of tragedy, we have found a way to evolve with the times, adopting new ideas and systems, while still retaining a sense of cultural ownership. Although garments had a sensible function, to clothe and bring warmth, the style of each is permeated with the pride and ideas of the weaver who created it—dresses made for daughters and granddaughters, for girls becoming women, and women becoming mothers. Each blanket and dress is a symbol of the weaver’s emotions toward the recipient of the respected piece.” Sierra Nizhonii Teller Ornelas, Navajo

7 Navajo. Woman’s dress and shoulder blanket, c. 1865-1870. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   278bl and 23bl

8 Navajo. Man’s pouch, late 1800s. This pouch has a beaded panel depicting a Yé’ii figure with a rainbow guardian. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   176be

8 Navajo. Man’s pouch, 1930s-1940s.   Na-q-4

8 Navajo. Man’s pouch, 1900-1915. This pouch has a silver corn plant on the flap. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III.

9 Navajo. Buckskin pants, late 1800s. Silver buttons were added for decoration on the legs of the pants.   na-c-13

10 Navajo. Man’s moccasins, early 1900s. Gift of Deborah Bate McDaniels.

11 Navajo. Blouse, c. 1950. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III; and Skirt, c. 1950. This satin skirt and velvet blouse would have been worn on a special occasion and complemented with silver and turquoise jewelry. 2895-5and na-c-2

12 Daisy Taugelchee (1909-1990), Navajo. Two Grey Hills textile, 1960. Daisy Taugelchee was a master weaver. Since the 1940s, her work set the standards for the Two Grey Hills style of weaving. This textile won a First Award at the Gallup Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonial in 1960. Gift of Mr. Read Mullan. Na-r-263

13 Rose Maloney, Navajo. Storm Pattern textile, 1961. Storm Pattern textiles show motifs at each corner that represent the Four Sacred Mountains connected to the center by zigzag lightning. The motif in the center is sometimes described as a hogan at the center of the world.   Gift of Mr. Read Mullan.   Na-r-346

14 Navajo. Basket, c. 1900. This basket was purchased by the Fred Harvey Company in 1910 from the widow of Richard Wetherill, a trader and explorer. It was probably collected between 1897 and 1910, the period during which Wetherill operated a trading post near the site of Pueblo Bonito. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   7ba

15 Navajo. Water bottle, c. 1900. Baskets such as this were sealed with piñon pitch to make them water proof, easy to transport and less breakable than pottery. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   38ba

16 Navajo. Ceremonial basket, c. 1900. This basket design is often called the wedding basket because the basket is used in weddings, but it also is used in other ceremonies. The designs on this basket represent the landscape. The exterior edge represents daylight, while the dark triangles immediately below represent night. The red band is a rainbow. Inside the band the dark triangles represent rain clouds, and the light central area is mountains and land. The center point is the beginning of life and the source of rain, and the break in the design is the pathway of consciousness. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   229ba

17 Navajo. Basket, c. 1900. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   250ba

17 Navajo. Basket, c. 1900. This basket has designs that represent clouds. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   220ba

17 Navajo. Basket, c. 1900. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.   740ba

18 Maggie Roan (     ), Navajo. Pine Springs rug, 1961. This vegetal-dyed textile won a Second Award at the Arizona State Fair in 1961. Gift of Mr. Read Mullan.   Na-r-413

19 Virginia Yazzie Ballenger (b. 1957), Navajo. Blouse and skirt, 1999. Virginia Yazzie Ballenger uses traditional clothing as inspiration for her contemporary designs.


19 Navajo. Concho belt, c. 1950. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry S. Galbraith.   3309-59

20 Emma Lee, Navajo. Dress, late 1970s. Traditional Navajo dresses continue to be worn for special occasions such as a graduation ceremony. Gift of Mr. William E. McGee.   Na-c-42

20 Navajo. Silver necklace, 1930s. 3694-24

20 Navajo. Turquoise and shell necklace, c. 1920. Gift of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.   Na-c-636

20 Navajo. Concho belt, 1950s. Gift of Mr. Read Mullan.   Na-j-452

21 Navajo. Moccasins, 1960s. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry S. Galbraith. Na-c-4

22 Victoria Keoni, (b. around 1960), Navajo. Burntwater textile, 1992. Burntwater textiles are Two Grey Hills design motifs woven in pastel colors. Purchased with funds provided by Mrs. Mary Coughlin. 3419-1

Navajo Jewelry

I started wearing turquoise when I was a toddler, and I can’t see myself without it. It makes me feel close to whoever gives it to me. I feel like I’m with my mother when I wear the things she gives me. Rena Martin, Navajo

Oral tradition explains the significance of jewelry to the Navajo people. White shell, turquoise, abalone and jet are sacred stones, used to create the first objects of adornment worn by the Navajo. Turquoise has aesthetic, economic and ceremonial significance and is used as an indicator of status as well as a medium for exchange.


In the mid-1800s, the Navajo were introduced to silver working by Spanish smiths. They mastered the techniques and, today, are considered among the best jewelers. There are several methods that Navajo artists employ to work with silver. One method is wroughtwork, where silver is cut and hammered, filed and stamped. A second method is repousse, where the area on one side of a flat metal piece is hammered, causing a raised design to appear on the opposite side. Wirework is another method and is achieved by twisting strands of wire or by shaping and flattening them with a hammer. In the casting technique, a mold is carved from soft volcanic stone called tufa. Molten silver is poured into the mold, creating beautiful works of art.


1 Eskisose, Navajo. Necklaces, bracelets and bowguard, 1922-1928. Gift of C.G. Wallace

2 Roger Skeet (c. 1900-1970), Navajo. Necklace and bracelet, 1952 and 1930. Gift of C.G. Wallace

3 Ike Wilson, Navajo. Bracelets, 1934 and 1943. Gift of C.G. Wallace

4 John Six, Navajo. Necklace, 1931. Gift of C.G. Wallace

5 Ambrose Roanhorse, Navajo. Necklace, 1938. Gift of C.G. Wallace

6 Fred Peshlakai (1896-1973), Navajo. Bracelets and ring, 1920s-1930s. Bequest of Mary Alice Heard, Bequest of Edith Edwards and the Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

7 Johnnie Mike Begay, Navajo. Necklace and ring, 1960s-1970s.

8 Kenneth Begay (1913-1977), Navajo. Bracelets, 1950s-1975 and pin, 1950s. Bequest of Carolann Smurthwaite

9 Sylvia Begay , Navajo. Earrings, 1994.

10 Harvey Begay (b. 1938), Navajo. Bracelet, 1997.

11 Allen Kee, Navajo. Necklace, 1950s. Bequest of Carolann Smurthwaite


1 Bead necklaces, late 1800s-early 1900s. These necklaces use trade items of turquoise and coral as well as shell. Gifts of The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and Mr. Read Mullan

2 Squash blossom necklaces, early 1900s. Gifts of the Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection and The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts

3 Joclas (Jaa’tloo), early 1900s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

4 Children’s jewelry, including a boy’s bowguard, early 1900s. Gifts of Mr. Byron Harvey III and the Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

5 Jewelry that incorporates mercury dimes and other coins, early 1900s. The silver dollar on the bracelet was minted in 1922. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

6 Necklace with red glass beads and reused, hand-drilled turquoise beads, early 1900s. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Galbraith

7 Gun powder chargers, c.1875. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

8 Tobacco canteens, c. 1900. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Galbraith and the Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

9 Bowguards, early 1900s. Gifts of The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

10 Earrings, collar ornaments and buttons, early 1900s. The edges of a coin are still visible on the round button. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

11 Cast belt buckles, early 1900s. Gifts of Byron Harvey III and The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts

12 Rings made of silver and Southwestern stones, including three garnets and a single jet stone, early 1900s.

Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

13 Bracelets of petrified wood (red), jet (black), glass beads or Hubbell beads (blue) and hand-drilled and reused turquoise beads, 1920s-1930s. Gifts of Mr. C.G. Wallace, Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III, The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

14 Lone Mountain turquoise. James Little (b. 1947), Navajo. Ring, 1980s. Gift of Matthew A. Buesing. Necklace, 1968. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Martin Raymond Lebowitz in memory of Henry and Esther Lebowitz. Bracelets, 1920s-1930s. Gifts of Mareen Allen Nichols and the Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

15 Bisbee turquoise. Necklace and bracelets, 1970s. Gifts of Mareen Allen Nichols and Mr. and Mrs. Henry Galbraith

16 Morenci turquoise. Bolo tie, 1970s. Gift in memory of Richard L. Rogers. Necklace and bracelets, 1920s-1970s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

17 Turquoise from the Number 8 Mine. Necklace and bracelets, 1950s-1970s. Gifts of Mareen Allen Nichols and the Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. John Burnside, Navajo. Buckle, 1963. Gift of Mr. Read Mullan

18 Blue Gem turquoise. Necklace, ring and bracelets, 1940s-1960s. Gift of the Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection and Mareen Allen Nichols

19 Fox turquoise. 1960s-1970s. Gifts of Mareen Allen Nichols, the Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection and the Evelyn D. Barnard Trust

20 Persian turquoise. 1960s-1970s. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols and the Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

21 Indian Mountain turquoise. Bracelets, 1940s. Gifts of Byron Harvey III and the Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

22 Kingman turquoise. Bracelet, 1940s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection


1 Eskisose, Navajo. Necklaces, bracelets and bowguard, 1922-1928. Gift of C.G. Wallace

2 Roger Skeet (c. 1900-1970), Navajo. Necklace and bracelet, 1952 and 1930. Gift of C.G. Wallace

3 Ike Wilson, Navajo. Bracelets, 1934 and 1943. Gift of C.G. Wallace

4 John Six, Navajo. Necklace, 1931. Gift of C.G. Wallace

5 Ambrose Roanhorse, Navajo. Necklace, 1938. Gift of C.G. Wallace

6 Fred Peshlakai (1896-1973), Navajo. Bracelets and ring, 1920s-1930s. Bequest of Mary Alice Heard, Bequest of Edith Edwards and the Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

7 Johnnie Mike Begay, Navajo. Necklace and ring, 1960s-1970s.

8 Kenneth Begay (1913-1977), Navajo. Bracelets, 1950s-1975 and pin, 1950s. Bequest of Carolann Smurthwaite

9 Sylvia Begay , Navajo. Earrings, 1994.

10 Harvey Begay (b. 1938), Navajo. Bracelet, 1997.

11 Allen Kee, Navajo. Necklace, 1950s. Bequest of Carolann Smurthwaite


1 Clarence Lee (b. 1976), Navajo. Bracelet, 1989 and pins, 1990s. Gift of Jeanie and Joseph Harlan

2 Edison Cummings (b. 1962), Navajo. Bracelets, 2001 and flatware and teapot, 1996.

3 Perry Shorty (b. 1964), Navajo. Pin, 2001. Gift of Gail Bird and Yazzie Johnson. Bracelet, 2001.

4 Cody Sanderson (b. 1964), Hopi/Navajo/Nambe/Pima. BMW tire ring, 2004.

5 Ric Charlie (b. 1959), Navajo. Pins, 1992 and 1996.

6 Carl Clark (b. 1952) and Irene Clark (b. 1950), Navajo. Bolo tie, 1990s. Gift in memory of Richard L. Rogers

7 Victor Beck (b. 1941), Navajo. Bolo tie, 1990s. Gift in memory of Richard L. Rogers

8 Kee Yazzie, Navajo. Miniature jars, 1990s.

9 Orville Tsinnie (b. 1943), Navajo. Bracelet, 1984.

10 Norbert Peshlakai (b. 1953), Navajo. Bracelet, 1992. Gift of Jeanie and Joseph Harlan

11 Jesse Monongya (b. 1952), Navajo. Pendant, 1984, and bracelet, 1970s. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Galbraith Bracelet, 2003. Gift of Mr. Jesse Lee Monongya. Reviewing his bracelet, Monongha said, “This is one of the first pieces I did using high-grade stones—malachite and Royston turquoise. It is also the first one I did in this style of inlay. The design on the bracelet shows a Navajo sun face, and the dots around the face represent the Four Sacred Mountains.”

12 Darrell Jumbo (b. 1960), Navajo. Pins and bracelet, 2000-2004. Gifts of the artist and Jeanie and Joseph Harlan

13 Cheyenne Harris (b. 1963), Navajo/Northern Cheyenne. Flatware, 1993.

14 Ron Bedonie (b. 1967), Navajo. Container, 1996 and buckle, 1993.

34 Navajo. Concho belts, c. 1890-1900. Gifts of the Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection and Mareen Allen Nichols

35 Navajo. Turquoise bracelet, 1940s and silver bracelets, 1900-1920. Gifts of Byron Harvey III and the Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

36 Navajo. Brooch, 1940s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

37 Navajo. Stamps, early 1900s. “This big concho stamp is made out of an automobile axle. They temper this, and they throw it in cold water to strengthen it. It’s all done by hand, using different files to get the shapes. The next one is a railroad spike, which is made into a stamp for a smaller concho. One of the two smaller stamps was made out of a file just cutting a little U into it to get a little curve to make a complete circle. The other one originally was a file for horse hoofs and made into a nice file. These are some of the tools that are made by the Navajos to punch out their concho belts.” Jesse Monongya, Navajo. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection

38 Johnnie Mike Begay, Navajo. Belt, c. 1970. Gift of Thelma Kieckhefer

39 Roger Skeet, Jr. Navajo Belt, 1970s. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard L. Rogers

40 Kay Begay Rogers, Navajo. Belt, 1998.

Navajo Pottery

The Navajo say that the Holy People taught the art of pottery making to them in early times. Oral tradition describes the process used in constructing a piece of pottery and provides its significance and use in Navajo life. Completed pots represent lessons in Navajo culture that describe familial relationships, responsibilities and ties to Mother Earth and home.

In historical times, pottery served two main purposes, both as a storage container for food and water and for use in ceremonies. Large vessels were constructed for food storage and cooking.   In the latter half of the 18th century, when the Navajo began to depend on a sheep herding economy, the size of the pots decreased considerably, since they stored smaller amounts of foodstuffs.

The clay used in Navajo pottery is tempered with sand, pottery shards or volcanic cinders and is shaped and processed by hand. Corncobs, sticks, gourd scrapers and polishing stones are used to give texture or shine to a finished work. After Navajo pots are fired, they are coated with piñon pitch, giving each a unique smell and feel. In most pots a rainbow with an opening can be found, supporting the Navajo belief that all things must have an opening to breathe.

Navajo Baskets

I don’t know if you’ve ever smelled a freshly woven Navajo basket. They’re made out of sumac, which has its own aroma. The berries of that plant can be made into a gravy that you can’t find anywhere else. That’s also a favorite food of mine. I made sure that my sisters know how to make it, so that when I’m an old man, somebody will make and feed it to me. Steven Begay, Navajo

Navajo baskets have their origins in Navajo oral traditions. They believe the first baskets were made from the sacred stones that belong to each of the four sacred mountains: white shell, turquoise, abalone and jet.

In historical times, the Navajo created baskets for use in cooking and food storage. The baskets were tempered using piñon pitch, making them suitable for storing water. More importantly, Navajo baskets were and are still used in every ceremony today. In the early 1900s, the Navajo population grew rapidly as did the demand for baskets being used ceremonially. The Navajo looked to their neighbors, the Paiutes, to create baskets to fill the demand. This practice continues today.

The most common basket design is the wedding basket, which incorporates black step design with a line of red in the middle of the step design. Several interpretations of the designs exist among the Navajo, and each is significant to the community from which it comes.

Home on the Plateaus: San Juan and Kaibab Paiute


Thunder Mountain is a sacred mountain. In my grandmother’s day, that mountain used to thunder, so it’s called after the thunder. And the Kaibab Mountains to the south, the blue mountains, they’re called Kai-babage, that means mountain lying down. Those are the two significant landmarks for me. We live north of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River and those, too, are significant. Vivienne Caron Jake, Kaibab Paiute

Paiute people’s homeland is the dry region of northwest Arizona, southern Utah and Nevada. They led a hunting and gathering lifestyle that emphasized the importance of sharing resources and land. Competition for Paiute homelands began in the mid-1800s, when a major wagon route between New Mexico and California went through Paiute lands. Settlers moved in, fenced off property and enclosed water sources. The delicate balance of Paiute life could no longer continue, and many died of starvation. Today, the Kaibab Paiute have a reservation in Arizona on the Utah border. The San Juan Southern Paiute are the only Paiute living east of the Colorado River. They live on traditional lands within the Navajo Nation and are working to have lands designated for their own reservation.


Language plays a major role in our ceremonies; we are orators, and a lot of the orators speak in the Paiute language. In order to understand the whole person, the soul and the spirituality, you need to know that language. Otherwise, you’re just a body walking around in the world not having full knowledge of who you are. Vivienne Caron Jake, Kaibab Paiute

Family and Community

Relationships were very close; people would do the chores or tasks that needed to be done for the day, together. Family is still very important. But in our community, nobody really visits like the old people used to. They would visit in the evening or late afternoon, or in the morning before chores got started, like working in the garden. It seems today, everybody’s either working, or they are watching television. That is a big change. Vivienne Caron Jake, Kaibab Paiute

Extended families were the basis of traditional Paiute life. Each of the 15 bands of Paiute lived and moved in their own areas, coming together on communal lands for piñon harvests. During the early to mid-1800s, the Paiute were the victims of an active slave trade. In the 1860s, when Mormon communities were established in the Kaibab area, Paiute people settled near those communities where jobs were available. In 1909, with support from local residents, the Kaibab Paiute Reservation was established. Year-round San Juan communities are in the north around Navajo Mountain in Utah and in the south at Willow Springs in Arizona.

Southern Paiute Baskets

The way of doing things was to do it together. If women had basketry to be made, they did it together. If they had to go out and harvest the willows for baskets, they would do it together. Vivienne Caron Jake, Kaibab Paiute

When the Paiute lived in their traditional ways, baskets were important tools for harvesting, sorting, drying and storing food. Paiute people needed winnowing baskets, seed beaters and burden baskets to collect wild foods, including seeds from more than 40 species of grass. Pitch -covered baskets held water and were used to parch corn. Basketry hats protected women’s foreheads from the tumplines of filled burden baskets. Basketry cradleboards protected babies. Baskets were even used to cook food, using hot stones moved quickly around to prevent burning the basket.

As traditional lifeways changed, baskets changed. The Paiutes were not on the main tourist routes so, for much of the 20th century, few women wove baskets for sale. San Juan Paiute weavers, located within Navajo land, wove Navajo-style “wedding baskets,” which they sold to traders and Navajo customers for ceremonies. The baskets provided a modest source of income. In recent years, a whole artistic tradition of coiled baskets has developed using brilliant dyes and innovative designs.

1 Paiute. Rabbit-fur blanket, c. 1928-1929. In the past, warm blankets of rabbit fur were made by people in the Yucatan, throughout North America west of the Rocky Mountains, all the way to the Arctic Circle. They offered a practical alternative to the skins of large animals, which were more difficult to obtain. Rabbit-fur robes were made in small sizes to fit children and larger, like this example, for adults. (From Kate Peck Kent’s, Pueblo Indian Textiles, 1983)     Ho-l-4

2 Paiute. Basketry hat, early 1900s. Basketry hats protected women’s foreheads from the tumplines of filled burden baskets. Gift of Barbara Lenone      Pa-b-7

3 Paiute. Burden basket, early 1900s. Baskets such as these were used for gathering and winnowing seeds. The Southern Paiute people picked berries and dug roots like other native peoples in the Southwest, but they also gathered the seeds of at least 44 species of grass. They harvested millions of minuscule seeds from grasses, pigweed and lamb’s quarters, using baskets and seed beaters. (From Andrew Hunter Whiteford’s Southwestern Indian Baskets, 1988). Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   1011ba

4 Paiute. Basket, c. 1900. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection     1012ba

5 Paiute. Water bottle, c. 1900. According to Brenda Drye, Kaibab Paiute, this basket also could be used to hold wild seeds. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection.     811ba

6 Paiute. Wedding basket, c. 1900. Historically, coiled bowls and tray-shaped baskets were used in gathering and carrying of berries, nuts and other foods.   Na-b-24

7 Paiute. Wedding basket, c. 1900. Paiute people wove many of these baskets for sale to Navajo people, who ordered them for ceremonies. There are various interpretations of the designs on this style of basket. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection     741ba

8 Paiute. Cradleboard, c. 1920. This is a Paiute cradleboard for a newborn female because the diamond designs are for a girl. A boy’s cradleboard would have crosses on it, according to Brenda Drye, Kaibab Paiute. Gift of A. E. Taylor           Na-bs-pa-q-3

Defending Home

I volunteered my service for this country. I was a Japanese prisoner of war in the Philippines. I survived with a determination to come back because of my people and my land. Tony Reyna, Taos

My grandmother lived here in Phoenix in an enclave of O’odham from the reservation. They came to find work during the Depression. During World War II, it was easier to get communiqués in Phoenix than out on the reservation, so families moved up here. Gary Owens, Piipaash, Tohono O’odham, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community

I was in the Marine Corp in Okinawa for 14 months. I thought of home a lot. I’d close my eyes and picture my community. My father outside chopping wood—my mother sitting on the ground over the open fireplace cooking our breakfast. I could hear over the ocean, dogs barking or children playing in the village. It brought me back home even though I was thousands of miles away. Danny Lopez, Tohono O’odham

Dad got letters from Uncle Blackie, in Vietnam. We’d go to grandma’s and he’d translate them into Indian for her. Then she would make care packages with chili, bread, cookies and jerky. Marie Reyna, Taos

Native Americans are three times as likely to have served in the military in the 20th century as the rest of the population. It has been said they were pulled by patriotism and pushed by poverty.

During the Civil War, Maricopas and Akimel O’odham served in the Arizona Volunteers, replacing regular Army troops as defenders of the region against Apache and Yavapai raids. During the Indian Wars of the 1870s, 11 Apache and Yavapai scouts were among the first recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor. In the 20th century, six American Indian soldiers have received this honor.

Native language speakers, especially Choctaw, were used in World War I. In World War II, Marine Corp’s Code Talkers developed an actual code using the Navajo language. Twenty-nine people were in the original group, and 375 to 420 more were trained later. The actions of the Code talkers remained secret until recognition began in 1968, culminating in the awarding of Congressional Gold Medals in 2001 to the original Code Talkers.

Among the best-known soldiers was Corporal Ira Hamilton Hayes, Akimel O’odham, from the Gila River Indian Community. Hayes enlisted in the Marine Corp Reserve in 1942 and took part in hard-fought Pacific campaigns including the battle for Iwo Jima. He and five fellow Marines were photographed raising the flag on Mt. Suribachi in the midst of battle. The image came to symbolize the epic struggle and ultimate victory of the War.

Many distinguished Native artists served in the military service. A number of veterans became jewelers and excelled at that art form. It is estimated today that Native American men and women constitute 10 percent of all living veterans.

Navajo. Bracelet, 1940s. This bracelet belonged to someone who received a Purple Heart in World War II. It is set in a bezel of heavy twisted wire and flanked by turquoise stones. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   887S

Edward Beyuka, Zuni. Bolo tie, c. 1969. The artist is known for his figurative work, such as this multipart bolo tie of a Plains dancer. The shield removes to become a pin, and the feather in the dancer’s left hand detaches to become a tie tack. Edward Beyuka survived the Bataan Death March of World War II and took up jewelrymaking in 1956. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols 4033-146a-c

Edward Beyuka, Zuni. Bolo tie, c. 1969. Five separate pieces that can be detached and worn as pins make up this bolo tie. Gift of Mareen Allen Nichols 4033-152

Sadie Curtis, Navajo. American flag textile, 1976. This textile by an accomplished weaver was one of two commissioned by Arizona Highways magazine in 1976 to celebrate the Bicentennial. The other textile was the Arizona state flag. Both textiles were woven at Hubbell’s Trading Post, managed by William Young. A grommeted strip was sewn into the textile so that it could be ceremonially flown over the U.S. Capitol and the Arizona State Capitol. 4126-1

Lloyd Oliver, Navajo. Bracelet, early 1960s. Lloyd Oliver was a Code Talker during World War II, and he was recognized for his participation in that capacity at veterans’ events. This bracelet was made by him following the war. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Hunter   4154-1

Lorenzo Reed, Navajo. Carving, 2002. In recent years, recognition has been given to Native servicemen who used their language to communicate military information during World War II. Known as Code Talkers, this carving represents two Navajo Code Talkers. Other Native people, including Hopi and Comanche, also served in this capacity during the war. Four Code Talkers signed this carving. 4295-1

Paul Saufkie (1898-1993), Hopi. Belt buckle, early 1960s. Paul Saufkie was the principal technical instructor for the Hopi GI’s silversmithing program. Saufkie began making jewelry in the 1920s.   NA-SW-Ho-J-46

Jesse Monongya (b. 1952), Navajo. Bracelet, c.1977. “This is one of my favorite pieces because it shows the mudhead’s muscle structure along the curve of bracelet. It took a lot of stone just to get that curve. It’s a mudhead dancing, and also it has the Hopi sun face.” Jesse Monongya Gift of Mrs. George L. Clements NA-SW-HO-J-107

Jesse Monongya (b. 1952), Navajo. Buckle and Bolo tie, c. 1984. Jesse Monongya began making jewelry following service with the Marines in Vietnam. Reviewing this set, Monongya said, “This won Best of Show at O’odham Tash in 1984 or 1985. The design includes the sun face, the new direction, quarter moon, the shooting star and the evening star.” Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry S. Galbraith 3309-8, 9

Apache Home in the Mountains


There’s a chief that lived here at Ft. Apache, Chief Diablo. When the U.S. military first came to our reservation and began to burn the corn crops and storage areas, he told his warriors not to retaliate because they would be sent to San Carlos to the concentration camp. Today, because of him we still live on our homeland. Most of the tribes, their land was taken away. Chief Diablo’s the one that chose to let the U.S. military build a fort here at Ft. Apache. He foresaw all the resources on our reservation and saved them for the next generations. Ramon Riley, White Mountain Apache

The homelands of related Apache groups, the Ndee, cover six states in the U.S. and two states in Mexico. It is a rugged territory of varied geographyproviding seasonal hunting and gathering. Harvests at summer villages supplied additional food.

When their territories came under pressure from settlers, the Apaches raided to survive. The resulting conflicts caused the establishment of reservations, first by the Spanish in the late 18th century and then by the U.S. military a century later. The reservations did not provide enough territory to feed the Apache people, and government rations were inadequate. Shortages once again led to raiding. In 1874, all Apaches west of the Rio Grande as well as the Yavapai were imprisoned at San Carlos. This created a volatile situation with openly hostile groups forced to settle in a small area.

Despite military defeats, enforced relocations and assimilationist policies, the Apaches have kept their physical and spiritual connections to their homeland. Today, stories connected to specific landmarks are passed from one generation to the next. They teach how to live a correct Apache life.


You’ve got a big responsibility to teach your child [Apache] in the home as soon as they start walking. Gladys Lavender, White Mountain Apache

Family and Community

Family means knowing clan relatives and the importance of a close-knit family. Kinship is forever. That’s how it was a long time ago. All those people supported each other, as far as food, clothing and protection. Today, it’s just your immediate family. Ever since we were put in boarding schools and HUD homes, the family ties and values were destroyed. Ramon Riley, White Mountain Apache

150 years ago, clan groups based on the mother’s lineage connected Apache families. Many of these clans spoke the same language and had similar lifestyles but followed their individual clan leaders, living in defined territories.

Today, Apache communities utilize resources on their reservations—lumber, cattle and tourism. When young people leave the reservation for post-high school education or work, family and community bring them home often.

Coming of Age Ceremony

When a girl chooses a godmother, the family takes a feather in the wee hours of the morning to the godmother’s house. They present the godmother with their gifts and the feather. Receiving a feather is an honor that comes with a lot of responsibility, not just for that year of preparation, or the days of the Sunrise Dance; it’s lifelong. Kealoha Alo, White Mountain Apache/Polynesian

The Apache people celebrate their creation story and reverence for women in a ceremony known as the Coming of Age or Sunrise Ceremony. When a young woman reaches puberty, a community of family and well-wishers celebrates her transition to adulthood. In a four- day ceremony, she is united spiritually and personally with White Painted Woman, a supernatural being central to Apache beliefs. The ceremony brings the young woman strength and blessings for a healthy life. With her power at this time, the young woman can cure or bless those who want it.

Ceremony preparations can take more than a year. A selected medicine man and godmother teach the young woman. Family and friends build a ceremonial wikieup, arbor and storeroom. Women prepare food for all the participants and guests. Attendees receive gifts of food, baskets and other items. Many young women undertake the Coming of Age Ceremony today, despite the investment of time and money by the young woman and her family.

Apache Clothing

Clothing Tells a Story Jeanette Cassa, San Carlos Apache

Everything is made in prayer. Larry Brown, San Carlos Apache

The Apache people historically made clothing and accessories out of animal hides. Frequently, the buckskin clothing, bags and moccasins were decorated with vegetal paints and beadwork.

When reservations were established and cotton materials became readily available, women wore “camp dresses”–loose-fitting blouses and long, full skirts. Men wore white cotton trousers, shirts, Western-style vests and breechclouts. Leather moccasins continued to be worn as well as other accessories made out of buckskin—bags, sheaths and hourglass-shaped hair ornaments, usually decorated with beads and buttons.

Women’s accessories provide information about social status. In the late 1800s, strands of beads around the neck and wrists indicated financial well-being. Today, young girls wear more trim on their camp dresses than a mature woman. A widowed woman will not wear ornamentation on her dress. The hourglass-shaped hair ornaments were traditionally worn by girls who had had their first mensis but were unmarried. Today, women of all ages wear the hair-ties.

Apache beaded bags

1 White Mountain Apache. Pouch, c. 1930. Pouches were carried by men and women. AP-Q-1

2 Apache. Pouch, c. 1920.   AP-Q-3

3 Apache. Pouch, c. 1915. Gift of Louis Ott     AP-Q-8

4 Apache. Pouch, c. 1915.   AP-Q-9

5 Western Apache. Pouch, c. 1900. Metal token used as a button on the flap reads, “The Coney Island, T.M. Lyons, Globe, Ariz.” Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III   AP-Q-40

6 Western Apache. Pouch, c. 1910. This pouch shows the influence of a Victorian period clutch bag. Gift of Mr. And Mrs. Bryon Harvey III AP-Q-43

Apache Clothing and Coming of Age

1. San Carlos Apache. Doll, 1880-1920. The hair ornament on the back of this doll’s head appears very large but is proportionately accurate. The hair ornament was traditionally worn by a young woman between her first mensis and the birth of her first child.


2. Western Apache. Doll, c. 1900. The doll’s buckskin dress and bead ornamentation probably represents a Sunrise Ceremony dress. The strands of beads around the neck are a sign of personal wealth. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 174BE

3. Western Apache. Doll. The hand-stitching on the doll elicited a story from Cornelia Hoffman, White Mountain Apache, about the blessing for a girl in her first sewing project. A horny toad is placed on its back on her sewing so that she will be an able seamstress. The horny toad has a zigzag line on its underside that looks like stitches. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 162BE

4. Eastern Apache. Moccasins, late 1800s. These are probably Jicarilla or Mescalero Apache. AP-C-29 a & b

5. Mescalero Apache. Moccasins, c. 1900. The stepped pyramid and feather designs are typical of Mescalero Apache beadwork. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 187BE a & b

6. Western Apache. Moccasins, c. 1900. Moccasins with toe tabs were worn by the Chiricahua and Western Apache in the late 1800s for special occasions. The paint and beadwork on this pair also suggest dress wear. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 159BE a & b

buckskin shirts

7. Dale Gilbert (b. 1965), San Carlos Apache. Shirt, 2001. This is a contemporary shirt inspired by the 1880s Apache scout shirt. 4105-1

8. Western Apache. Shirt, late 1800s. This leather shirt is based on the full-dress coats worn by U.S. Army officers during the Indian Wars. The Apache scouts who served in the U.S. military from 1871 to 1923 were never issued a military uniform. They created leather shirts full of meaning to the Apache—yellow ochre, a sacred pigment, and rows of buttons, beadwork and fringe typical of Apache clothing and accessories. Serving as a scout was a source of income and pride, a status worthy of special attire. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 158BE

9. Mary Garland Riley, (b. ), White Mountain Apache. Camp dress, 2000. When cotton materials became readily available, women wore these loose-fitting blouses and long, full skirts, seen in photographs from the 1880s on. The camp dresses are still worn today. Gift of Marilyn Holroyd in memory of Winnie Davis Holroyd 4235-1 a& b


10. White Mountain Apache. Cradleboard, c. 1950. According to Ramon Riley, White Mountain Apache, charms were hung off the hood to ward off evil and sickness in protecting the infant. The laces represent lightning. AP-Q-16

11. Mescalero Apache. Cradleboard, c. 1950. MS-Q-2

12. Alma Gusta Thompson (1904-1986), San Carlos Apache. Cradleboard, c. 1956. “The frame of this cradleboard is made from mesquite root. You have to go down to the wash after a real heavy rainstorm and the root sticks out. That’s when we go and cut it. I remember going with my grandmother. We used to go up to Dry Wash with just jerky and maybe ash bread and a canteen of water. It would get to be 100-degree weather, scorching hot. But we would leave the first thing in the morning. And we would see the roots coming out of the mesquite. She would chop it off and leave it there, continue on, keep on going until she thinks she has enough. And then we would go back and collect each one and return home.”

“To form this upside down U-shape, you have to soak it in water for maybe a week. When it’s thoroughly soaked, you form the U-shape by massaging and pressing it slowly. This bottom part of the cradleboard –the bed- -comes from sotol. Sotol is a cousin to the agave and yucca. The hood is made from desert willow.” Herbert Stevens, San Carlos Apache. AP-Q-2

Coming of Age Ceremony

13.Western Apache. T-necklace, 1960s. The wide, loomed T-necklaces became popular in the 1940s, according to Larry Brown, San Carlos Apache. AP-N-15

14. Western Apache. Beaded T-necklace, 1900-1920. “This type of necklace is worn during puberty ceremonies for girls. In the early part of the century, they were made small and narrow like this as opposed to now, where they are wide, with more design. This was made after the 1900s. Before that time, Apache women would wear strands of blue and white beads.” Larry Brown, San Carlos Apache. Gift of Ms. Leona Koch AP-J-9

15. Western Apache. Gaan kilt, 1970. The Gaan are spiritual beings, the protectors, teachers and role models for the Apaches. At night, during the Coming-of-Age Ceremonies, four or five masked Gaan dance around a central fire accompanied by a group of singers.AP-C-20

16. Allan Houser (1914-1994), Chiricahua Apache. “Devil Dancer,” 1958. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Oscar Thoeny IAC1530

17. Mescalero Apache. Basket, c. 1970. Gift of Ms. Anne Burmister in memory of Robert Bashford Burmister and Martha Gage Burmister MS-B-9

18. Mescalero Apache. Coming-of-Age Ceremony skirt and poncho, early 1900s. When a young woman reaches puberty, a community of family and well-wishers celebrates her transition to adulthood in a four-day ceremony. A special garment is either made for the occasion or passed down from a family member. The skirt and poncho appear very fluid because of the long fringes hanging from the shoulders and all around the skirt. The sound is musical with hundreds of small tinklers. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 200 BE

19. Mescalero Apache. Moccasins, c. 1920. These moccasins with long leggings would be folded so the beadwork is at the ankle. AP-C-4 a&b

Western Apache Baskets

You can tell about the spirit or character of the basket maker by looking at the basket. It was common to borrow and loan baskets in times past. Cornelia Hoffman, White Mountain Apache

The tus [pitched water jar] is so important to the Apache heritage that it is part of the White Mountain Apache great seal. Ramon Riley, White Mountain Apache

Before reservations, Western Apache home life meant moving from camp to camp on horseback.Baskets perfectly suited this mobile lifeway. Apache women made coiled and twined baskets for food collecting, preparation and storage and for use in ceremony. Basketry jars could carry water when coated with piñon pitch. Weavers made burden baskets for both food collection and all-purpose transport. Foods collected in baskets included acorns, corn, sumac berries, wild black walnuts, mesquite beans and piñon nuts. Today, burden baskets hold food for guests attending Apache ceremonies.

By the 1880s, Western Apache basket weavers were creating large, dramatic jar baskets and flat trays for the tourist market. After 1920, fewer weavers made large basketry jars because the demand wasn’t supporting the investment of time and effort. As coiled basketry declined in the 20th century, weavers continued to make twined baskets. These baskets were used in ceremony and could be produced more quickly for sale. Revitalization efforts continue in Apache communities.

1 Timothy Ward (b. 1985), San Carlos Apache. Buckskin cap, 2002. In the late 1800s, buckskin caps were worn by Apache men in hunting and raiding parties. Later, this style was used for social occasions. The early history provided inspiration for the artist, who made this cap when he was in 11th grade. He then entered it in the 2002 Heard Museum Guild Native American Student Art Show & Sale, where it was awarded a Division Winner ribbon. The artist noted that the beadwork represents the four directions and serves to protect the wearer. Gift of Andy Eisenberg 4173-1

2 Apache. Playing cards, c. 1885. These playing cards are based on Latin suited cards from Spain, brought to Mexico and obtained by the Apache by the 1600s. There are four suits: Clubs, cups, coins and swords. The Apache produced their own rawhide decks after the 1830s. This deck could have been made for playing or for sale. Gift of Mr. Robert Whitten AP-G-3

Playing cards, 2000. These cards are still purchased in Mexico. Herb Stevens, San Carlos Apache, commented that the elders play several times a week at the San Carlos Apache Cultural Center.

Fiddles are made from an agave (century plant) stalk and strung with horsehair. They are played primarily for social occasions. “You have to hollow the agave out and then put it back together before painting it. In Apache, the word is tsee bedodahe, meaning a singing century plant, a singing agave.” Herbert Stevens, San Carlos Apache.

3 Salton Reede (1924-1999), Sten’aye Clan, San Carlos Apache. Fiddle, 1981. Larry Brown commented on Mr. Reede’s fiddle playing, “He made the violin talk. You could actually hear the words.”AP-M-14

4 Amos Gustina, San Carlos Apache. Fiddle, 1930-1950. Gift of Mrs. Gregg Scott AP-M-2

5 Albert Goseyon (1858-1945), San Carlos Apache. Fiddle, c. 1970. Gift of Mr. Byron Hunter AP-M-10

6 Western Apache. Basket, early 1900s. This double-lobe basket was covered with piñon pitch and used to hold water. A carrying strap easily could be wrapped around the middle to transport water. AP-B-66

7 Apache. Olla, late 1800s. Before 1900, Apache home life meant moving from camp to camp on horseback, and possessions had to be few and practical. Baskets were easy to transport, less breakable and lighter in weight than pottery. Potterymaking was discontinued after the late 1800s. Jars such as this were used to cook meat and corn or to melt pitch for coating basketry water bottles. Sometimes pots were used as drums. Gift of Mrs. C.J. Klaus AP-A1-1

8 Western Apache. Basket, c. 1850. This basket has been decorated with a variation of the rain-on-the-mountains design. The pitch-covered water jar was given to the Heard Museum from descendants of Chief Loco, a leader of the Warm Springs Band of Apaches during the Apache Wars. Gift of Ms. Juanita Marie Loco 3546-1

Awls were made of sharpened wood, antler tine or animal bone. They were used to puncture holes in leather for sewing or to separate basketry foundation fibers to insert the weaving fibers. They were important tools, carried in cases that were frequently decorated with beadwork and tinklers.

9 Western Apache. Awl case, c. 1900. According to Bernadette Adley-Santa Maria, White Mountain Apache, the Apache word for buckskin with beadwork and tinklers translates into “something that makes you proud.” Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 168BE

10 Mescalero Apache. Awl and case, c. 1900. Gift of Ms. Anne Burmister in memory of Robert Bashford Burmister and Martha Gage Burmister AP-Q-21

11 Western Apache. Awl case, c. 1900. AP-Q-30

12 Apache. Tweezers on a brass chain, late 1800s. In the 1880s, tweezers were worn around the neck and used to remove facial hair. They can be seen in portraits taken at San Carlos at that time. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 750CI

13 San Carlos Apache. Mirror ornaments, c. 1885. Probably worn as a necklace. AP-J-1

14 Apache. Basket, late 1800s. This basket is so finely woven that it could hold water. Early baskets such as these could have been used for food service. A basket very similar to this one is seen in a photograph from the 1880s and identified by the photographer as Chiricahua Apache. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 10BA

15 Apache. Basket, late 1800s. This water jar has clan markings, possibly of its maker, on the shoulder. Ramon Riley, White Mountain Apache, remarked that the water jar is so important to the White Mountain Apache that it is a part of their tribal seal. Gift of Mrs. Gregg Scott AP-B-105

16 San Carlos Apache. Basket, c.1930. According to San Carlos Apache advisor Herb Stevens, the Apache word for a burden basket is “old woman carrying kindling.” Gift of Jane H. Rider AP-B-235

17 White Mountain Apache. Basket, c. 1900. Weavers at the turn of the century made burden baskets for both food collection and all-purpose transport. San Carlos Apache advisor Adella Swift says she uses baskets today for all occasions – Halloween candy, Easter eggs – as well as Apache ceremonies. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 1036BA

18 Mescalero Apache. Shield, 19th century. This shield is made out of buffalo hide with heavy ornamentation including scalloped leatherwork and tinklers. Gift of Mrs. Roger Lyon MS-D-1

19 Allan Houser (1914-1994), Chiricahua Apache. “The Wild Horses.” This painting displays a monumental feel for the depiction of a wild horse roundup. Gift of Read Mullan     IAC4

20 Apache. Saddlebag, c. 1900, 62 x 19.5. “This is an authentic, full-sized saddlebag that was draped on the back of a horse. There is a slit in the middle where, on one side, it was packed with food, like dry meat or bread. The opposite side was packed with extra clothes or maybe a blanket or moccasins, or whatever extras they had. They would pack this on the back of a horse along with their bedrolls. And this is an old example of a saddlebag. It was made with hand-tanned buckskin. Apaches were the only ones that used cutout designs with the red material underneath.” Larry Brown, San Carlos Apache.


21 Allan Houser (1914-1994), Chiricahua Apache. “Night Guard,” 1985. Bequest of Mr. Weston H. Hausman, Sr.3510-1

22 Apache. Basket, c. 1910. Big baskets were frequently made for the tourist market. AP-B-189

23 Western Apache. Basket, c. 1900. This basket appears on the mantle of Maie and Dwight Heard’s home in a 1910 photograph. AP-B-6

24 Western Apache. Basket, c. 1900. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 809BA

25 Western Apache. Basket, c. 1910. Multicolored basket with human and animal figures, probably made for market. AP-B-192

26 Western Apache. Basket, early 1900s. Referred to as storyteller baskets, these were commonly sold at trading posts at the turn of the century. Gift of Miss Marion R. Plummer and Mr. and Mrs. Stanley W. Plummer AP-B-259

Hualapai Home: On the Plateaus


Home is northwest Arizona, over seven million acres. We cover large landscapes–over 100 miles a day, and several hundred miles to get groceries in Kingman. We’re pretty unique. Loretta Jackson, Hualapai

Hualapai and Havasupai people were once part of the same group with adjoining territories. In spring and summer, people grew crops. After the fall harvest, they traveled in their homeland hunting game and harvesting piñon nuts and agave. In the 1860s, miners and settlers appropriated the water sources. Some Hualapai people found jobs on ranches and farms or some worked for the railroad.

In the late 1800’s, Anglo ranchers employed Hualapais as cowboys. That adopted tradition is one of the first things we were allowed to learn in order to keep our land. They said that we would have to run cattle on our land. I’m proud that my father taught us those ways. Loretta Jackson, Hualapai


A lot of the adults age 30 and up speak the language and know the cultural traditions. Lucille Watahomigie, Hualapai

When you say things in Hualapai, it goes all the way to the heart. That’s the common bond that keeps us together. Malinda Powskey, Hualapai

In their language, the Hualapai call themselves People of the Tall Pine. The Hualapai have classroom language curricula, and a week-long, summer Pai language camp.

Family and Community

I was raised in Milkweed Canyon where there was a spring. That’s where my grandparents lived. It was the traditional territory of my mother’s father, and our band is the Milkweed people. Lucille Watahomigie, Hualapai

My dad grew a lot of produce, had an orchard and planted alfalfa. We’d use a John Deere horse-drawn manual bailer for the alfalfa. My job was to sit on Old Texas and make sure that he kept going around in a circle. He was the power behind the machine. Malinda Powskey, Hualapai

Once, it was easy to take over your family’s livelihood. Over the generations, that began to break up. My grandfather was a tribal herd manager. And it was easy for my dad to take over that role. Everything was set in a certain way in the early 1900s, when we were just starting to become part of the melting pot of Anglo society. Loretta Jackson, Hualapai

Today, Peach Springs is the largest Hualapai community with 500 residents. Because Hualapai lands include the western rim of the Grand Canyon, the tribe has developed tourism businesses including a hotel and restaurant, river rafting tours running down the Colorado and big game hunting. Community activities honor the past and educate young people. The Hualapai imprisonment at LaPaz, Arizona, in 1874 is commemorated with an annual relay run between Parker and Peach Springs.

1 Bernice Watsonomi, Hualapai. Basket, c. 1900-1925. Twined baskets were designed to catch the attention of tourists. Many different shapes and sizes were made between 1900 and 1920. Gift in memory of James C. Soelle and Lillian R. Soelle of Phoenix     Wa-b-55

2 Mary Boston Walema, Hualapai. Basket, c. 1920. Twined bowl baskets such as this have been made more than any other shape since about 1920. Gift in memory of James C. Soelle and Lillian R. Soelle of Phoenix     Wa-b-54

3 Bernice Watsonomi, Hualapai. Basket, c. 1900-1925. Gift in memory of James C. Soelle and Lillian R. Soelle of Phoenix           Wa-b-49

4 Bernice Watsonomi, Hualapai. Winnowing basket, c. 1900-1925. Gift in memory of James C. Soelle and Lillian R. Soelle of Phoenix     wa-b-51

5 Hualapai. Water bottle, c. 1900. According to Loretta Jackson, Hualapai, “This twined water bottle made from squawberry was covered with hematite to make it the red color.” Loretta Jackson.       Wa-b-11

6 Mamie Mahone, Hualapai. Twined basket, 1930s. Mamie Mahone lived in Seligman, Arizona, and sold baskets to tourists at the Grand Canyon. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection     994ba

7 Emma Matuthanya, Hualapai. Basket, c. 1900-1925. Gift in memory of James C. Soelle and Lillian R. Soelle of Phoenix     Wa-b-47

8 Hualapai. Tray, early 1900s. This basket has been smeared with peach pulp to make it useful for winnowing or parching. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III     Wa-b-18

9 Agnes Tapija, Hualapai. Basket, c. 1930. Between 1900 and 1930, many Hualapai women made coiled baskets for sale. The coiled weave is called a boví weave in the Hualapai language. Gift in memory of James C. Soelle and Lillian R. Soelle of Phoenix     Wa-B-36

10 Nonie Havatone, Hualapai. Basket, c. 1900-1925. Gift in memory of James C. Soelle and Lillian R. Soelle of Phoenix     Wa-B-40

11 Hualapai. Basket, c. 1917. This type of basket would have been used to store melons, corn or seeds. It also could be used to gather acorns. Gift of Mrs. Charles Nichols     Wa-b-19

12 Ramona Mahone, Hualapai. Cradleboard, c. 1984. The frame of the cradleboard is made with the wood from the mesquite tree. The bed pieces that fit within the frame are made of arrowwood, and the hood is made of squawberry bush. According to Hualapai advisor Loretta Jackson, Hualapai cradleboards have the bed pieces attached on top of the frame, and Havasupai cradleboards have the bed pieces attached beneath the frame. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III     Wa-q-2

13 Hualapai. Basket, 1900-1925.     Wa-B-61

Havasupai: Home in the Canyon


When people talk about the Grand Canyon, they’re speaking about our home. Roland Manakaja, Havasupai

Down there, it’s such a small area that we can’t expand anymore. Augustine Hanna, vice chairman, Havasupai

For centuries, the Havasupai home has centered on the Grand Canyon. The Canyon had been a summer home where the Havasupai grew food for the winter. In winter, when the Canyon floor was cold and damp with only five hours of sunshine, the Havasupai moved to the Canyon’s south rim. As competition for land around the Canyon increased, the Havasupai were denied their winter homes. By 1882, the Havasupai homeland was 518 acres, located entirely within the Canyon. The Havasupai petitioned Congress for the return of their winter homeland in 1908. In 1975, after 66 years, the tribe received 185,000 acres on the Coconino Plateau, the largest amount of land ever restored to a single tribe. In 2000, there were approximately 100 homes in the Canyon. Any building project on the Canyon floor is a difficult and expensive undertaking. Large military helicopters are needed to bring in prefabricated housing parts.


Havasupai is the first language in the home. Everyone speaks it fluently, from the elders to the children. But now we’re beginning to have intertribal marriages, so some of the children aren’t speaking it, but they kind of understand it. Roland Manakaja, Havasupai

In the Havasupai language, who are Havasuw `Baaja, People of the Blue Green Waters.

Isolation has helped to preserve the Havasupai language. As mainstream music and satellite television bring the outside world to the Canyon, families and teachers have worked to develop special curriculum materials and programs to continue the language.

Family and Community

Here, the families are closely knit. If we left forever, we’d feel like we were neglecting our mothers, our grandparents. That’s the most important cultural tradition we have. We come back for the elders. Rose Marie Manakaja, Havasupai

Money-wise we’re poor, but we’re rich in lots of ways. Daisy Jones, Havasupai

With limited space in the Canyon, several generations may live together. This continues a tradition of grandparents being especially important in children’s lives. However, overcrowding is a serious problem because land used for residences cannot be used to grow food. In 2000, about 450 of the tribes 650 members lived in the Canyon. After the eighth grade, children leave home for boarding school or stay with families outside the Canyon and attend public school. Most community members are employed in the tourism industry, guiding mule trains in and out of the Canyon.

14 Havasupai. Cradleboard, 1940s. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III   HV-Q-2

15 Havasupai. Burden basket, early 1900s. The base of this basket is covered with hide that has some fur remaining. In function and shape, the twined Havasupai baskets were very much like the baskets of their neighbors, the Hualapai.   Hv-b-52

16 Havasupai. Basket, 1930s. This basket is an example of the finely coiled baskets Havasupai weavers made for sale to Grand Canyon visitors. It was purchased in Havasupai Canyon early in the Heard Museum’s history.     Hv-b-4

17 Havasupai. Basket, 1880-1910. Baskets were not only the Havasupais most important domestic utensil but also their major craft. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection         712ba

18 Havasupai. Basket, early 1900s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection     702ba

19 Edith Putesoy, Havasupai. Basket, 1920s-1930s. The arrival of Eastern visitors to the Southwest and the development of a market for Native arts brought about changes in basketry. While the Hualapai basketweavers developed twined baskets for sale to tourists, the Havasupai refined their skills with coiled baskets. Gift of Byron Harvey III           Hv-b-35

20 Havasupai. Basket, 1951. This basket won a third-place ribbon at the 1951 Arizona State Fair. Gift of Miss Marion R. Plummer and Mr. and Mrs. Stanley W. Plummer         Hv-b-46

21 Havasupai. Basket, c. 1934. This basket was purchased at the Grand Canyon in 1934. Gift of Miss Marion R. Plummer and Mr. and Mrs. Stanley W. Plummer     Hv-b-48

22 Havasupai. Basket, 1920s-1930s. Gift of Miss Marion R. Plummer and Mr. and Mrs. Stanley W. Plummer     Hv-b-49

23   Havasupai. Basket, c. 1924. This basket was stored in a trunk after it was collected. Keeping it away from the light made the colors bright, like new.     Hv-b-37

24   Havasupai. Basket, 1920s-1930s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection         1002ba

25 Lola Montana, Havasupai. Basketry water bottle, early 1900s. Gift of Gloria Lomahaftewa     3066-1

26 Havasupai. Basket, 1900-1925. Gift of Mrs. Barbara Lenone     Hv-b-9

27   Havasupai. Basket, 1920s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection           926ba

28 Herbert Crook, Havasupai. Pictorial Basket, 1980s. At center of the basket is a bird surrounded by butterflies, female figures, a big horn sheep and a train. 3551-1

Yavapai Home: Wide and Contested Lands


We had millions of acres years ago. When the White man started moving west, why, it got smaller and smaller. Now our land is very small. Bert Bonnaha, Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe

Yavapai land in the Verde Valley is beautiful; that’s where creation started for us.

Katherine Marquez, Yavapai Apache Nation

Home–we’re tied to the land. We were quite familiar with our homeland–the river, the mountains and the open space. We enjoyed that type of life. When we were away at boarding school, we wanted to go back to it. Clinton Pattea, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation

Once, 10,000 Yavapai in four subtribes moved over nearly 10 million acres of central Arizona. In the 1860s, prospectors discovered rich minerals on Yavapai land. The military arrived to protect mining interests, and with it came farmers and ranchers to provision the forts. Deprived of food sources, the Yavapai fought, but by 1873 most were living on reservations. The Yavapai were marched 180 miles through the mountains in winter to the San Carlos Apache Reservation where they were imprisoned for 25 years. Each February, the Yavapai commemorate that event. When they were released, they returned to small parcels of their old homelands. They farmed or worked for wages for the railroad or the mines in nearby towns.


My number one priority is documenting the Yavapai language because it is a dying language. The speakers, the elders, they’re dying. And when they die, we’ve lost that much of our traditions. Ted Vaughn, Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe

In 2004, an estimated 10 people spoke the Yavapai language. Language preservation efforts include classes in school and informal conversation groups with elders and young people.

Family and Community

During my growing up days, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, all lived within the community. We depended on each other. Every family was expected to contribute toward taking care of our cattle, our farms. We volunteered our time to build a better economy for our community. Today, we have electricity, running water, and the conveniences of an urban area that we didn’t have that when I was young. There’s quite a difference now. Clinton Pattea, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation

Today, despite tremendous changes in the Yavapai lifeway, some residents of each reservation are from clans that once lived in the area. The proximity of Yavapai communities to the growing urban areas of Phoenix and Prescott have increased economic development options, especially in tourism and gaming. Twentieth century leaders among the Yavapai include Dr. Carlos Montezuma who fought for Yavapai homelands; Viola Jimulla, the first woman elected leader of a North American Indian nation; and Frank Harrison and Harry Austin whose 1948 lawsuit gained voting rights for Arizona Indians.

Pai Baskets

My favorite smells include the water willows along the Big Sandy River. My mother made utilitarian baskets that people used to gather and clean seeds and grains. They used baskets a lot back then. Malinda Powskey, Hualapai

Animals, or stars and the sun, they’re all woven into the baskets. Clinton Pattea, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation

Baskets reflect the history of Pai homes. The Hualapai traveled over wide areas and designed baskets perfectly suited to harvesting and storing many kinds of small seeds. Stewed peach pulp, mescal pulp and pitch were used to coat baskets allowing them to carry liquids. These baskets were all twined. Havasupai utilitarian baskets were similar to the Hualapai. Havasupai weavers began making more coiled baskets in the 1880’s. They traded them to the Hopi and other Puebloan Indians and sold them tourists. The Hualapai made coiled baskets for a time and then returned to weaving distinctive twined baskets for sale.

The Yavapai were once allies and then fellow prisoners with the Western Apache at San Carlos. This association led to many cross-influences in basket weaving that make it difficult to determine if the weaver was Yavapai or Apache. For both groups in the first part of the 20th century, basketry was a highly prized art form for collectors that contributed to the household income of weavers.

1 Yavapai. Basket, early 1900s. “The vertical row of crosses could represent the corn plant that the first people crawled up at Montezuma’s Well.” Katherine Marquez, Yavapai. Gift of Mr. And Mrs. Byron Harvey III           Ap-b-211

2 Yavapai or Apache. Basket, early 1900s. This basket has been variously identified as Yavapai and Apache. The history of the Yavapai and Apache people, with both confined to the reservation at San Carlos, probably led to the sharing of many basketry designs and techniques. This basket is very finely woven and features an eagle and motifs that some think represent military medals. From the Bert Robinson collection. Gift of Miss Marion R. Plummer and Mr. and Mrs. Stanley W. Plummer           Ap-b-246

3 Yavapai. Basket, 1965.Yavapai elder and advisor Katherine Marquez thinks of Skatakaamcha, Star in the Night, the Yavapai spiritual protector, when she sees a basket with a central black star. Gift of Mrs. E.E. Jack Na-sw-yv-b-6

4 Yavapai. Basket, early 1900s. Gift of Miss Marion R. Plummer and Mr. and Mrs. Stanley W. Plummer         YV-b-23

5 Yavapai. Basket, 1908-1920. This basket is from Graves Indian Shop, which was located at Central and Washington streets in downtown Phoenix until it closed in the 1920s. Some pieces in the early Heard collection were acquired from this store. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James Barton Graves         Yv-b-28

6 Yavapai. Basket, 1934. According to advisor Katherine Marquez, the designs are of a coyote, antelope and a man, who may represent Skatakaamcha. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III     Ap-b-300

7 Attributed to Mary Jones, Yavapai. Basket, 1920s-1930s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection     995ba

8 Yavapai. Basket, c. 1930. Gift of Miss Marion R. Plummer and Mr. and Mrs. Stanley W. Plummer   Yv-b-16

9 Yavapai. Basket, early 1900s. “The white star is the morning star.” Katherine Marquez, Yavapai.   YV-B-21

10 Yavapai. Basket, early 1900s.     Ap-b-23

11 Yavapai. Basket, early 1900s. “The star represents Skatakaamcha, Star in the Night or One that Wanders. Lightning flashed when the night star went up. Yavapai oral histories tell how Skatakaamcha went to the top of Bell Rock, in the Sedona area, and pushed the mountain down into the earth. Bat woman, Kampanyika, knocked him down. His bones lay all around the base of Bell Rock, spreading medicine all around.” Katherine Marquez, Yavapai. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John M. Clements         Yv-B-3

12 Yavapai. Basket, early 1900s.       Ap-b-81

13 Yavapai. Basket, early 1900s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection     59 ba

14 Yavapai. Basket, early 1900s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection     921ba

15 Yavapai. Basket, early 1900s. This is a winnowing basket. Acorns were cracked in a flour sack, and the meat was separated from the husk in a winnowing basket such as this one. The acorn meat would be ground up on a trough-style grinding stone with a two-handed mano. The flour would be used for acorn stew. Katherine Marquez’s mother made jerky gravy, which she sprinkled with acorn flour. Deer meat was sprinkled with acorn flour. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection                 58ba

16 Yavapai. Basket, early 1900s. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III     Ap-b-210

17 Yavapai. Basket, early 1900s. Advisor Katherine Marquez indicated that this basket was Yavapai, not Western Apache. The extensive use of devil’s claw and the wide mouth are two design features of Yavapai jar baskets. “The saguaro are Yavapai people,” she notes. Gift of Barbara Lenone     Ap-b-101

Home on the Colorado River


The Creator said, “I’ll be watching over you. I’ll protect you and make sure that your lands will not be taken away.” The Spirit turned himself into Picacho Peak. It’s like a sentinel watching over the land and the people. Vernon Smith, Quechan

Homelands, for some Yuman-speaking people, lie along the Colorado River. The Mojave, to the north are the largest group. The Quechan are south of the Mojave, and the Cocopah in the river delta have traditional lands in the United States and Mexico. Once, people combined farming in floodplains with fishing, hunting and gathering desert plants. May and June floods of the Colorado brought rich soil to their fields. Hoover Dam, built in the 1930s, ended flood plain farming and made access to irrigated lands essential.


Our own language doesn’t have any cuss words in it; it’s clear and concise. It tells you of your roots–everything that’s happened since we were created. Vernon Smith, Quechan

You learn English to progress in the White world, and your own language to survive forever. Veronica Homer, Mohave

Family and Community

We need to look at the community as a family. We need to protect that. Vernon Smith, Quechan

CRIT is unique because of our tribal make-up. We’re in two states and three counties, and we have a non-Indian town [Parker] within the reservation. Veronica Homer, Mohave

Traditionally, Yuman people built homes in groups spread over a mile or two, with four or five miles between groups, leaving room for fields and gardens. Neighbors were extended family and clan members. In the mid-1800s, military forts became the nucleus around which reservations were formed. Today, the Mohave people live on two reservations. In 1865, the government established the Colorado River Indian Tribe (CRIT) Reservation for all Colorado River people. The Ft. Mojave Reservation was established for the Mojave who remained behind. In 1945, the government opened CRIT to Hopi and Navajo families who had suffered from the Depression and livestock reduction programs.

Quechan homes were located near the river crossing at Yuma. Before the railroad reached Yuma in 1877, some Quechan made a living ferrying and piloting ships on the Colorado. In 1884, the Quechan were settled onto the Ft. Yuma Reservation.

The Cocopah have been split between the United States and Mexico since the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. In 1917, Cocopah leader Frank Tehanna persuaded the United States government to establish the Cocopah Reservation near Somerton, Arizona.

Since the 1980s, land claim settlements have brought money and land to all of these communities, which they have used to expand farming, tribal businesses and tourism.

1 Amelia Escalanti Caster, Quechan. Dress, 1974. When Elissa Percharo, Pee Posh and Yolanda Hart Stevens, Pee Posh/Quechan, saw this dress they said, “This dress has many songs behind it,” referencing bird songs sung by the Yuman-speaking people. This dress could be worn for either a ceremonial or a social occasion. Anona Hills Qualupe, Quechan. Belt, 1974 and Judith Piretta, Quechan. Necklace, 1974. According to Elissa Percharo and Yolanda Hart Stevens, this necklace could be worn by either a man or a woman.

2 Quechan. Flutes and drum, 1960s-1980s. These instruments would be played by men, who also would sing.     Qu-m-2, 3 1a,b

3 Henrietta Graves Peterson, Mohave. Gourd rattle, c. 1963. Gift of Mrs. Nora Kreps Loerpabel


4 Whitney Grey (b.1949), Mojave/Tohono O’odam. Painting, 1996. Many of Whitney Grey’s paintings are abstractions inspired by petroglyphs and pictographs. This painting is based on a pictograph of a spirit being. The pictograph is in the Mojave homeland of the mountains near Needles, California.           3668-3

5 Daisy Simms (b. 1937), Mohave/Quechan. Cape necklace, 1987.                     Cp-j-15

6 Annie Fields (1884-1971). Mohave, Figure and effigy jar, 1960s. Annie Fields lived in Needles, California. Her work is distinctive for her attention to details of clothing and jewelry, especially the beaded collars and earrings. The donor purchased the figure at Annie Fields house. It is unfired and a piece of yellow ochre paint is in the figure’s bowl. When fired, the paint will turn red. Gift of Mrs. Nora Kreps Loerpabel                       Mh-f-14 and a4-38

7 Mohave. Effigy jar, early 1900s.      Mh-a4-1

Elmer Gates (b. unknown – d. 1990), Mohave. Elmer Gates revived vessel shape and design styles of the Hohokam with this contemporary jar.

8 Jars, 1974. Gift of the Gila River Arts and Crafts Center       Mh-a4-5, 2

9 Figures, 1980.     Mh-f-11,12

1 Mohave. Cape necklace, late 1800s. The Mohave began to make beaded collars in the early 1880s. Blue and white were the most popular colors for collars. The glass trade beads became available through contact with explorers, settlers and soldiers. Mohave elder Louise Patch referred to the design on this cape necklace as a turtle shell design. She said the diamond shapes represent the bank of the Colorado River, and the elements near the neckline are the tributaries of the Colorado, such as the Bill Williams River. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 195be

2 Mohave. Bark skirt, mid-1800s. Before the 1860s, Mohave women wore knee-length skirts made of soft shredded fibers from the inner bark of willow trees. Gift of Ms. Ruth Thomas   Mh-c-1

3 Mohave. Figure, c. 1900. Advisor Herman “TJ” Laffoon remarked that this creature resembles a black and white beetle that lives in willow trees. He called it an Ava Kato. The fanciful figure is wearing earrings.           Mh-f-9

4 Mohave. Figure, early 1900s. This figure is possibly a turtle standing on tall legs.         Mh-f-8

5 Annie Fields (1884-1971), Mohave. Frog, 1964. This frog carries a fire stick in its mouth. In Mohave origin stories, when the son of Earth, Mutavilya, was about to die he instructed people that he was to be cremated. The Mohave did not have fire in those days, so a frog hopped to the west across the desert to a volcano, where he placed a stick in his mouth and lit it. Then he hopped back across the desert with the burning stick. When the frog returned, Mutavilya had died. The frog lit the funeral pyre, establishing the Mohave tradition of cremating the dead with their belongings. Gift of Mrs. Nora Kreps Loerpabel           Mh-f-20

6 Mohave. Frog, c. 1940. The donor acquired this ceramic frog at the railroad station in Needles, California. Its spots were originally greasewood leaves, which have since worn off. Commenting on the people selling crafts at the railroad station, Mohave elder Louise Patch said, “They couldn’t speak a word of English, but they were in business.” Gift of Mrs. Nora Kreps Loerpabel

7 Mohave. Miniature figures and cradleboards, 1920s-1940s. Bark from the cottonwood tree was peeled and trimmed to form skirts for the figures.       Mh-f-4, 1

8 Mohave. Miniature figure and cradleboard, c. 1963. Gift of Mrs. Nora Kreps Loerpabel     Mh-f-36

1 Mohave. Necklace, late 1800s. The Mohave began to make beaded collars in the early 1880s. Blue and white were the most popular colors for collars. The glass trade beads became available through contact with explorers, settlers and soldiers. Mohave elder Louise Patch referred to the design on this cape necklace as a turtle shell design. She said the diamond shapes represent the bank of the Colorado River, and the elements near the neckline are the tributaries of the Colorado, such as the Bill Williams River. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection       195be

2 Mohave. Bark skirt, mid-1800s. Before the 1860s, Mohave women wore knee-length skirts made of soft shredded fibers from the inner bark of willow trees. Gift of Ms. Ruth Thomas.   Mh-c-1

3 Mohave. Figure, 1960s.               Mh-f-7

4 Mohave. Figure, c. 1900. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection                   1470ci

5 Mohave. Figure, c. 1900. Mohave potters painted the faces and bodies of figurines with designs that represented styles of tattooing and body painting. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection     1471CI

6 Annie Fields (1884-1971), Mohave. Figure, c. 1963. Gift of Mrs. Nora Kreps Loerpabel     Mh-f-33

Sonoran Desert Homeland

The mountains on both sides of us– the San Tan Mountains and the Sacaton Mountains– that says home. The cactus, that says home. Home is also heat, because we come from the desert and I like the heat. It feels good on my skin. Tim Terry, Jr., Akimel O’odham, Gila River Indian Community

The Sonoran Desert receives approximately eight inches of rainfall a year. Its winter temperatures are mild in the daytime but drop to freezing at night. In the summer, temperatures well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit are the rule. Desert elevations vary between 1,500 and 3,500 feet. As with most deserts, the words “hot” and “dry” apply, but the Sonoran is far from barren. The desert supports a rich variety of plants and animals that have adapted to their two seasons of rainfall. One of the most distinctive and important plants is the saguaro cactus that feeds both people and animals. For the O’odham people, picking the saguaro fruit in June has been the traditional preparation for the summer rains– violent storms fed from the south in July and August. Winter rains that come from the Pacific to the west and pass the mountain barriers are gentle and may last for more than a day. In between these two seasons are dry months when desert plants, animals and people must call on all of their adaptive skills and knowledge to wait for the next rain.

Desert Ancestors Land

The Hohokam home was in the Sonoran Desert along rivers of central and southern Arizona and northern Mexico. The rivers flowed year round with fish and other aquatic plants and animals.

The ancestors of the Hohokam were hunters and gatherers who moved with the seasons. Around A.D. 1, the Hohokam settled in agricultural villages along the rivers, and within two generations, they were building irrigation canals. Over several centuries, the Hohokam learned to build complex canal systems. At their peak, there were hundreds of miles of canals, some seven to 10 miles long, 30 feet wide and 10 feet deep. The Hohokam calculated elevations and gradients to keep an even flow of water–a master engineering feat. The canals watered fields that grew corn, beans, cushaw and butternut squash, pumpkins, amaranth, gourds and cotton.


From A.D. 1 to1450, the Hohokam built pithouses that were single-room, oval-shape structures, clustered around a central courtyard. The clusters most likely housed related families. They shared ovens that were pits lined with rock to bake agave hearts or cholla buds. While the old-style pithouse home continued, from A.D. 1150 to 1450 people built above-ground rectangular homes. They were made of adobe and were also clustered and walled-in.


My grandfather told me about the ancestral shell-workers. He said this is what we do, the work that we do. We work with shells. Tim Terry, Jr., Akimel O’odham, Gila River Indian Community

Part-time artists and craftspeople worked from their homes making tools and ornaments that were widely traded from Mexico to Utah and the Pacific Coast to New Mexico. The Hohokam traded cotton, crops and shell jewelry for such things as turquoise, obsidian, macaws and copper bells.

The Hohokam villagers were successful farmers, with time to build beyond basic homes. They built monumental structures called platform mounds and a few big houses, which are multistory adobe towers with multiple rooms. These non-residential structures required the combined labor of many people for many hours.

The existence of two types of homes including pithouses and above-ground complexes, as well as the use of exotic materials—colorful feathers, turquoise mosaic and worked shell—to indicate social status all suggest social or religious class distinctions.

Collapse of Large Villages

Around A.D.1450, the Hohokam moved away from their villages along the Salt and Gila Rivers and the Tucson basin. There may have been several reasons including internal conflict triggered by environmental pressures. Floods in the late 1300s may have damaged canal systems. Akimel O’odham oral traditions tell of how their ancestors overthrew the rulers of the platform mound villages, suggesting social unrest. Warfare and migrations help explain the dramatic drop in population and change in settlement between A.D.1400 and 1700. Some Hopi clan migrations describe people coming from the south.

The Hohokam Canal System

Today, as in the past, canals are important to desert life. The ancestral desert people, the Hohokam, were building canals by A.D. 50. By A.D. 600, there were large irrigation systems on both sides of the Salt River. Main canals fed into smaller lateral channels, which fed into the fields. By A.D. 1150 to1450, there were more than 300 miles of main canals in the Salt River Valley alone. Some canals were more than 10 miles long and served many separate communities. Large canals were more than 30 feet wide and 10 feet deep. The Hohokam dug canals using wooden and stone tools.

Canal Management

Even though the Salt River flowed freely, the amount of water available may not have accommodated all of the canals at once. By A.D. 900 to 1150, the Hohokam had built a number of major towns along their canals, located at roughly three-mile intervals. These towns were political and religious centers. If a canal had only one major site on it, that site tended to be located at the midpoint, three miles from the source of water and three miles from the end of the canal. There is evidence that during later periods, an elite group living in major villages and towns controlled the canals. It is possible that the entire Hohokam area was under the control of centralized leadership residing in the major towns. Structures such as the multi-story tower at Casa Grande may have been residences for regional authorities.


The Hohokam art of making shell jewelry reached a peak in the years between A.D. 900 and 1150. During this time, the Hohokam carved a greater variety of shell types into more varied forms and designs and used a wider range of manufacturing techniques than at any other time in their history. They used marine shells primarily collected from the Gulf of California. Their jewelry was traded as far as the Colorado Plateau and southwestern New Mexico.

Hohokam. Shell bracelets, A.D. 900-1150. Frog bracelets made of glycymeris shell were the most common type of jewelry the Hohokam made. NA-SW-HH-J-115 & IL.1747.45-25045 & 25046

Hohokam. Dog or coyote effigy pendant, A.D. 900-1150. NA-SW-HH-J-58

Hohokam. Frog effigy pendants. A.D. 900-1150. NA-SW_HH-J-69, 71

Hohokam, Ring, A.D. 900-1150.     NA-SW-HH-J-81 (tier 2)

Hohokam, Effigy pendant. A.D. 900-1150. This beautifully polished pendant resembles a turtle. Trade routes for shell and other materials ran throughout the Southwest and over to the Gulf of California where marine animals would have been seen. NA-SW-HH-J-82

Hohokam. Frog effigy pendant, A.D. 900-1150. Archaeologists speculate that shell mosaics were part of an elite exchange of non-utilitarian goods related to wealth or status. After A.D. 750, copper bells, pyrite mirrors, shell trumpets, painted or etched shell and live macaws—prized for their feathers—were among the other highly valued items included in this trade.   NA-SW-HH-J-102

Hohokam. Frog effigy pendant, A.D. 900-1150. NA-SW-HH-J-146

Hohokam. Bird effigy pendants. A.D. 900-1150. Shells in the shape of birds—a heron, pelican and unidentified bird. IL.1747.45-25058, 60 & 64.

Timothy Terry, Jr., Akimel O’otham artist and member of the Gila River Indian Community, makes shell jewelry inspired by Hohokam pieces. He examined and commented on stone tools and shell fragments found at an ancestral site west of Casa Grande. These items are on loan from the Central Arizona Project Repository now housed at the Huhugam Heritage Center.

Reamers/chippers—to file the shell flatter or work a hole larger

Files/Sanders—to smooth or soften an edge

Saws or knives—cutting too

Drills/micro drills—these would have been mounted on wood or antler handles


Hohokam. Grooved axe, A.D. 650-1450. While the Hohokam used stone axes for cutting wood, the axe heads are found unused—sometimes in caches—in such abundance at platform mound sites that archaeologists think they may also have been status items.   NA-SW-HH-Q-137

Hohokam. Hoe, A.D. 650-1450.   NA-SW-HH-Q-214

Hohokam. Projectile points, A.D. 650-1450. Highly skilled stone-working specialists probably made these points and the stone palette. NA-SW-HH-D-28

Hohokam. Palette, A.D. 900-1150. Pinal schist which contains mica was frequently used as the stone to make palettes.   NA-SW-HH-Q-3

Representations of desert animals, especially snakes, frogs, lizards and birds, are commonplace in Hohokam art. In contemporary Southwestern cultures, these animals are associated with moisture, and they may have had the same meaning for the Hohokam.

Hohokam. Rattlesnake effigy, n.d. NA-SW-HH-a1-113

Hohokam. Gourd-shaped pot, A.D. 900-1150. NA-SW-HH-A4-127

Hohokam. Bowl, A.D. 750-900. Hohokam mastery of ceramic design and decoration is evident in this bowl depicting reptiles, which may be horned toads or gila monsters. Its rectangular shape is unusual.   NA-SW-HH-A4-31

Hohokam. Bowl, A.D. 750-900. Production of stone bowls peaked around A.D. 875. Based on the high degree of artistic skill involved in sculpting the snakes, this bowl was probably made by a specialist. NA-SW-HH-Q-359

Hohokam. Storage jar. A.D. 1150-1300. NA-Sw-HH-a4-1

Hohokam. Jar. A.D. 900-1150. Na-Sw-HH-a4-3

Hohokam. Censer. A.D. 900-1150. NA-SW-HH-A4-4

Hohokam. Paddle, A.D. 750-1450. Hohokam peoples produced distinctive red-on-buff pottery that was mass produced from A.D. 900 to 1150. The red pigment is made from hematite. The Hohokam made ceramics by simultaneously working the outside with wooden paddles and the inside with small cobbles, or “anvils.” NA-SW-HH-Q-97

Hohokam. Bowl, A.D. 300-750. This tiny bowl is in the style of the earliest Hohokam ceramics and is the oldest Hohokam piece in the Heard’s collection. Na-SW-HH-A4-63

Hohokam. Plate, A.D.750-1150. NA-SW-HH-A4-68

Hohokam. Jar, A.D. 1150-1450. Na-SW-HH-A4-84

Hohokam. Scoop, A.D.750-1150. NA-SW-HH-A4-96

Hohokam. Bowl, A.D.750-1150. NA-Sw-HH-A4-97

Hohokam. Jar, A.D. 900-1150. NA-SW-HH-A4-112

Hohokam. Jar, A.D. 900-1100. This unusually-shaped vessel resembles a gourd and has some free floating design elements more characteristic of an earlier style of pottery. NA-SW_HH-A4-128

Hohokam. Jar, A.D. 1150-1450. NA-SW-HH-A4-129

Hohokam. Rectangular bowl, A.D. 900-1150. This large bowl was made during a period when the Hohokam lived in villages with large dwellings and plazas. Hohokam architecture, pottery and stone tools are found as far north as Flagstaff, Arizona. NA-SW-HH-A4-161

Hohokam. Human effigy jar, A.D. 300-900. The red paint on this vessel has nearly faded away. NA-SW-HH-A4-61

Hohokam. Human figurines, A.D. 900-1150. These figurines show some of the clothing worn by Hohokam. One figure wears a shoulder blanket with incised designs. These figures are especially interesting, since no clothes from the Hohokam are preserved. NA-SW-HH-F-29, 30, 31, 33, 35, 36, 39, 40

Salado. Parrot effigy jar, A.D. 1100-1450. In precontact times, parrots and parrot feathers were part of the trade between Mexico and the Southwest. Many Salado sites were in the Roosevelt area and were inundated by the waters from Roosevelt Lake beginning in 1909. NA-SW-SD-A7-3

Salado. Gila polychrome jar. A.D. 1300-1450. The design element of the feathered serpent is part of a pan-southwestern system of beliefs found throughout the southwest after A.D. 1350. NA-SW-SD-A7-8

Salado. Jar, A.D. 1350-1450. The Salado were not necessarily a separate people from the Hohokam, and are identified by three pottery types, one being Tonto Polychrome, such as this jar. NA-SW-SD-A7-32

Salado. Dog effigy jar, A.D. 1150-1250. This jar shows a resemblance to ceramics produced in the Casas Grandes area of Mexico. NA-SW-SD-A9-4

Salado. Sandal, A.D. 1200-1450. Sandals, like baskets and textiles are preserved in the desert conditions. They are made out of yucca fibers, which are twill plaited. The fastening for the foot is also plaited yucca fiber. NA-SW-SD-C-6.

Salado. Sandal, A.D. 1200-1450. This square-toed sandal has a bit of the heel strap remaining, but the toe and instep straps are now gone. NA-SW-SD-C-14.

Salado. Textile fragment, A.D. 1200-1450. This belt is made by finger-weaving finely spun cotton. Entire shirts were made with these intricate openwork techniques.   NA-SW-SD-C-18.

Salado. Double-ended graver. A.D. 1200-1450. The rodent tooth is lashed to the ends with yucca fiber. NA-SW-SD-Q-1.

Salado. Basket fragment. A.D. 1200-1450. Twilled yucca was used to make a tray or basketry mat. NA-SW-SD-Q-4.

Home Along Desert Rivers: Akimel O’odham and Ak Chin Indian Community

We tell the children when you see Red Mountain, you’re home. This is your land; this is your home. The birds have told you this is your land. You have songs for all these mountains here. Gary Owens, Piipaash, Tohono O’odham, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community


Akimel O’odham traditional lands are along the Gila River. Through the early 1800s, the Akimel O’odham farmed in the river’s flood plains and lived in year-round villages. They grew summer crops of corn, beans and squash, supplemented with game and desert foods. The Spanish introduced wheat, which became a major winter crop. During the westward expansion, Akimel O’odham farmers were major suppliers of food for the military and wagon trains. During the 1700s and 1800s, the Akimel O’odham allied with the Maricopa to repel raids on their land from Colorado River groups to the west and Apache to the east.


When we were small O’odham was the only language we learned. They’d tell us all the legends. When I was six years old, grandfather led me down the road to school where we learned English. It was good that they taught us English, but I would like to have the people learn more about O’odham. Frances Kisto, Akimel O’odham, Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community

Family and Community

Life changes so fast that we forget we have our relatives. In the O’odham way, your first cousins are your brothers and sisters; your grandparents’ siblings are your grandpa and grandma. Family is actually your whole community. It’s a part of who helped to raise you. Tim Terry, Jr., Akimel O’odham, Gila River Indian Community

At Ak-Chin, many families in the old village area live in clusters of families that are related in one way or another throughout the community. Elaine Peters, Tohono O’odham, Piipaash, Ak-Chin Indian Community

The Gila River Indian Community, the first reservation in Arizona, was established by an act of Congress in 1859. Traditionally, people built their homes near family members and several extended families formed a community. By 1870, Anglo farmers drawing water from the Gila River left too little for the O’odham to live as farmers. Drought made conditions even worse, and some O’odham and Maricopa moved to farm along the Salt River. Today, living close to urban areas has made it possible for casinos, resorts and business parks to bring income to the communities. At Gila River and Ak-Chin, farms are once again proving profitable, and the Ak-Chin Community does not require any federal assistance.

Home in the Desert: Tohono O’odham


In my homeland, there are mountains that are sacred to us. Baboquiviri Mountain is a significant place for all O’odham, because that’s the home of our ancestors and our Creator. Joe Joaquin, Tohono O’odham

The mountain that is significant to our community of Gu Oidak, Big Fields, is called Giho Do’ag, Burden Basket Mountain. Like most villages, we claim a mountain. It is the place where people used to gather saguaro fruit. Danny Lopez, Tohono O’odham

Tohono O’odham homeland is approximately 24,000 square miles of the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona and northern Mexico. Receiving less than eight inches of rain annually, the Tohono O’odham moved between winter “well” villages in the foothills and summer “field” villages at the mouth of streams. Today, the Tohono O’odham Nation is the second largest reservation in the United States, approximately the size of the state of Connecticut. Approximately 64 miles of the International Border run through traditional O’odham land making it difficult for O’odham on both sides to stay connected.


We have five different dialects in the O’odham country but we can understand each other. Joe Joaquin, Tohono O’odham

We need language in our ceremonies and to tell our stories. It’s like a person’s heart. When your heart stops, you’re dead. The language is our heart. It keeps our culture alive. Danny Lopez, Tohono O’odham

Family and Community

Years ago, families all stuck together. We worked together chopping or picking cotton. In the village on Sundays, we walked to church together. After church we’d eat together under the ramada. That is being a family. Danny Lopez, Tohono O’odham

The piped water came to our village, and the electricity came, and the road. The community shifted so they could be close to that road. Danny Lopez, Tohono O’odham

Extended families were once at the heart of community for the O’odham. Elders remember when the nearest homes belonged to family members. Some elders still find the modern arrangement of houses along a paved street to be odd. In the 20th century, the Tohono O’odham pursued cattle ranching and some worked in the growing Tucson area and in mines around Ajo. The government began digging wells on the Tohono O’odham Reservation in 1912, establishing a year-round source of water, and communities clustered around these wells. Today, the Tohono O’odham have capitalized on proximity to the Tucson urban area and Mexico with an industrial park, foreign trade zone and casino.

In 1996, community members formed Tohono O’odham Community Action (TOCA). It is dedicated to cultural revitalization, community health and sustainable development. Community health projects focus on reintroducing native foods to combat diabetes, which affects nearly 70 percent of the community.

Desert Foods

We dried and stored cholla buds. In wintertime, when there was not much, we relied on dried foods to survive until about April. Danny Lopez, Tohono O’odham

My favorite foods are cholla buds and all the fruits from the plants that we used to eat. Those were the things I grew up with and I miss them. Joe Joaquin, Tohono O’odham

The Sonoran Desert has many wild plant foods used by both Hohokam and O’odham. The Hohokam ate fruit and parts of several varieties of cacti. They may also have transplanted agave and cholla cactus for food. The O’odham collected 375 species of desert plant foods. Early spring is a difficult period in the Sonoran Desert, and the cholla buds provided a protein and calcium-rich food.

The saguaro has great symbolic meaning for the O’odham. Its fruits ripen in late June and early July during the hottest and leanest months of the year. The ripening fruit meant an end to hunger and the coming of the summer rainy season.

The mesquite tree was another important food source. When the Gila River still flowed, groves of mesquite grew in its floodplain. In midsummer, the seedpods provided carbohydrate-rich food. The mesquite’s edible flower was an early spring delicacy. Today, organizations such as Tohono O’odham Community Action are working to decrease the high incidence of diabetes by teaching the benefits of traditional foods.

The Traditional Calendar

The traditional Tohono O’odham calendar reflects the relationship of the O’odham to the Sonoran Desert homeland.

The “new year” was marked by the ripening of the saguaro fruit in late June. The lunar months were named for the state of the various plants or the activities of the season. The Pima calendar was similar but traditionally did not have 12 “months.” It had a set of named seasons.

Ha:san Bak masad


“Saguaro moon.” The new year begins with the harvesting of the saguaro fruit.

Jukiabig masad


“Rainy moon.” Summer thunderstorms and the planting of corn, beans and squash begin.

Sopol Esabig masad


“Short planting moon.” Final time for planting crops.

Wasai Gak masad


“Dry grass moon.” The summer rains end and the grass quickly turns brown. The crops are ripening.

Wi’ihanig masad


“Moon of persisting.” The drought resistant crops have gone into final maturation and ripening in the dry fall seasons.

Ke:g S-Hekpjig masad


“Moon when it is getting good and cold.”

A time for the hunting of wild game.

Edg Wa’ugad masad


“Inner backbone moon.” The backbone of winter. This is the coldest time of the year.

Gi’ihodag masad Uiwalig masad

January to early February

“Time when animals have lost their fat” and “time when they mate.”

Ko:magi massad


“Gray moon.”

Ce:dagi masad


“Green moon.” Plants and tree buds begin to bloom.

Oam massad


“Yellow-orange moon.” A time of beautiful desert wild flowers.

Kai Cukalig masad


“Moon when the saguaro seeds turn black.” The saguaro fruit is ripening.

O’odham Baskets

Grandmother made pinole. People came around to buy it and her baskets. That’s how we lived. She taught her daughters to make baskets, my mother and my Aunt Martha, they all made baskets. Frances Kisto, Akimel O’odham, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community

The materials, designs and uses of O’odham baskets tell a great deal about their makers and the distinctions between their river and desert homelands. Historically, baskets were utility containers in households. They were used to gather, parch, winnow and store grain, seeds and desert foods. They held liquid for daily use and ceremony. The burden baskets carried many kinds of loads including firewood and pottery containers. Traditionally, the majority of baskets were made by the time-consuming coiling process. Older O’odham baskets from the 19th and early 20th centuries were made of willow, with geometric designs in devil’s claw.

During the early 1900s, the tourist market for baskets became a source of income for O’odham families. Akimel O’odham basket makers were closer to the larger urban areas than Tohono O’odham. Tourists and collectors wanted baskets with flat bases that could sit on tables. They wanted pictorial baskets and encouraged miniaturization. The Tohono O’odham developed their baskets using desert materials of yucca and bear grass and the more efficient split-stitch style. Men entered the women’s craft with baskets made of bailing wire. Today, the Tohono O’odham Basketweavers Association is working to redevelop an interest in weaving and ensure that weavers receive a good return on their baskets.

Timothy Terry, Jr. (b. 1965), Akimel O’otham. Calendar stick, 2004. “A calendar stick is like a diary, a way of recording your life in a form that you can share with other people. Each stick is different. Each stick is personal, so each one is decorated and presented in the way the person feels that they want it to be presented. This is actually my stick. It is a replica of older ones. We were very fortunate that we had three elderly gentlemen keep a record of their sticks on a piece of paper, and it was shared with the community. This calendar stick is made out of cactus rib.” Timothy Terry, Jr., Akimel O’otham.

This is a detail of the calendar stick that recalls the years 1856-1859. The figure on the bottom left segment is a reminder of an 1859 meteor seen by the Akimel O’otham.

Wine Ceremony

Michael Chiago (b. 1946), Tohono O’odham. “Rain House and Saguaro Wine Festival,” 1993. “In the old days, the saguaro provided the people with fresh fruit, syrup and a cake made from the seeds. The syrup-making process produces a juice, which ferments for three days in the rain house under the care of the Keeper of the Smoke, the village headman and ceremonial leader. Rain songs are sung, and men and women dance at night. At noon of the third day, the headmen gather to recite poems over the baskets of wine. The men of the village sit in a circle and pass the baskets until they are drained. The planting of crops takes place after the wine festival to make use of the rains that are bound to follow. Today, many families still prepare the saguaro wine for their own use, and the custom to cover the wine with a song continues; anyone who accepts a drink of the wine recites a poem, which invariably relates to clouds or rain.” Michael Chiago 3458-1

Laura Kermen (), Tohono O’odham. Rain Ceremony, 1979. These figures are participating in a Célkona Ceremony that has its roots as an autumn harvest or winter rain dance, and today is done at many public celebrations. The dancers carry symbols of nature such as mountains, clouds, birds and rainbows. They also carry the important “Man in the Maze” symbol of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Gift of Roger and Margaret Hinkle 4199-2

Laura Kermen (), Tohono O’odham. Family scene, 1979. Laura Kermen came from the village of Topawa and was a school teacher before becoming a potter. In addition to ceramic vessels, she made clay figures that went with stories and taught people about the O’odham. This scene shows a family probably traveling between a summer and winter village. Gift of Roger and Margaret Hinkle 4199-4

Baptisto Lopez, Tohono O’odham. Fruit picking stick, c. 1974. In the Tohono O’odham language this is called a kui’pad. It is more than six feet tall and made of saguaro ribs.

Tohono O’odham. Water storage jar, mid-20th century. Water storage jars were fired at a low temperature and had thick heavy walls. They sat outside by a ramada, supported by a stand made from a forked tree trunk. The water was intended to seep slowly through the walls, cooling the water by evaporation. Na-SW-Pg-A1-15

Tohono O’odham. Fruit strainer basket, 1971. Cooking jar, c. 1950. Ladle, c. 1950. Jar and basket: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III. Ladle: Saguaro fruit can be strained through this basket and cooked down in the jar. The jar was made in the village of Topawa. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn E. Quick, Sr.

Akimel O’otham. Jar with horsehair rope, 1920s-1940s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   600P

Tohono O’odham. Wine jar, c. 1930. Some old jars still retain the scent of the saguaro wine or syrup that was stored in them.   NA-SW-Pg-a5-4

Tohono O’odham. Wine jar, c. 1930. NA-SW-PG-a5-6

Tohono O’odham. Wine jar, 1900-1950 NA-SW-PG-A5-8

Tohono O’odham. Wine basket, 1900-1950. Wine baskets are very strong and woven so tightly that they can hold liquid. Na-SW-PG-b-25

Tohono O’odham. Wine basket, 1900-1950. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III   Na-sw-pg-b-62

Akimel O’otham. Wine basket, 1900-1950. Gift of Miss Marion R. Plummer and Mr. and Mrs. Stanley W. Plummer

O’odham Desert Foods/ Utilitarian Baskets Section

Akimel O’otham. Cradleboard, 1920s-1940s. This cradleboard has a padding of the inner bark of a willow. Willows were an important basketry element for the Akimel O’otham people and grew readily when the Gila and Salt rivers flowed. NA-SW-Pi-Q-9

Akimel O’otham. Winnowing basket, c. 1900. This basket has a four-petaled squash blossom design. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 68BA

Akimel O’otham. Winnowing basket, c. 1900. Large, flexible baskets were used to winnow wheat and other grains that the Akimel O’odham historically grew in abundance when they had ample access to river water. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 308BA

Akimel O’otham. Winnowing basket, c. 1900. Designs on baskets of this era tended to be geometrical. It was later, when baskets were made for sale to tourists, that more pictorial motifs were woven. NA-SW-Pi-B-210

Akimel O’otham. Winnowing basket, 1900-1925. This design is a five-petaled squash blossom. Gift of Valley National Bank NA-SW-Pi-B-322

Akimel O’otham. Grain storage basket, c. 1900. This large basket is made of wheat straw sewn with mesquite or willow bark. When advisor Terrol Dew Johnson reviewed this basket he recalled the stories of people hiding their children in these baskets when government agents came to take them to boarding schools. 816BA

Tohono O’odham. Parching bowl, c.1940. By mixing grain with live coals, this bowl could be used to parch grain. NA-SW-PG-A1-6

Tohono O’odham. Bean pot, 1920s-1950s. Tepary beans were an important and healthful part of the O’odham diet and are being brought back through the work of Tohono O’odham Community Action and the group’s farm. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III. NA-SW-Pg-A1-27

Tohono O’odham. Basket, 1974. This basket is made of martynia or devil’s claw, a very durable basketry fiber. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn E. Quick, Sr.

Tohono O’odham. Food bowl, c. 1950. NA-SW-PG-Q-4

Tohono O’odham. Food platter, c. 1950. NA-SW-PG-Q-5

Tohono O’odham. Martynia bundle, c. 1980. This is a bundle of martynia pods put together by hand. The bundle is called a “hat” and is sold for basketry materials. These pods must be stripped to be used for the basket weaving. Although devil’s claw grows wild, some weavers save the seeds of especially long pods and grow them for the best basketry material. NA-sw-PG-W-2

Akimel O’otham. Utility stick, 1900-1950. This stick served as a walking staff for the person carrying the burden basket. When the basket was rested on the ground, it served as a prop to keep the contents of the net bag from spilling out. NA-SW-PI-Q-1

Akimel O’otham. Burden basket, c. 1890. Carried on a person’s back and supported by a tumpline that passed across the wearer’s forehead, burden baskets were a basic tool of the O’otham. The tall sticks extending above the rim of the basket made it possible to load firewood above the limits of the net bag. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn E. Quick, Sr. NA-Sw-Pi-B-359

Akimel O’otham. Mortar and pestle, 1900-1920. This mortar was used to pound mesquite pods into meal. It comes from the Charles family of Gila Crossing on the Gila River Indian Community. NA-Sw-Pi-Q-10a and b

Made For Market; Pima

Akimel O’otham. Beaded baskets, 1920s-1940s. Both miniature and full-sized baskets were decorated with beads. The larger beads are called pony beads or China beads, with blue the favored color, while smaller seed beads were well suited to decorate miniature baskets.

Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection min167BA

Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection min184BA

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry S. Galbraith 3309-398

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III Pi-b-336

Gift of Anne Burmister in memory of Robert Bashford Burmister and Martha Gage Burmister Pi-b-456

Gift of Anne Burmister in memory of Robert Bashford Burmister and Martha Gage Burmister Pi-b-473

Bequest of Carolann Smurthwaite Pi-b-541

Pictorial baskets were popular with collectors and tourists. Desert animals and plants were popular subjects.

Akimel O’otham. Pictorial basket, c. 1910. Because this basket is finely stitched, the weaver could create rounded forms and some detail on the human figures. This pictorial features an eagle surrounded by butterflies, people, dogs or coyotes, and chickens.

Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection   175BA

Akimel O’otham. Pictorial plaque, 1920-1940. The Man in the Maze design is an important image used in art both for Tohono O’odham and Akimel O’otham. The figure is I’itoi, Elder Brother, who created the People and the maze is his house. Gift of Miss Marion R. Plummer and Mr. and Mrs. Stanley W. Plummer NA-sw-pi-b- 384

Akimel O’otham. Pictorial basket, 1920-1940. Depicting the contents of railroad cars is a challenge for weavers of both baskets and textiles. This weaver solved the problem by placing animals on top of the boxcars. Bequest of Carolann Smurthwaite NA-SW-Pi-B-540

Flat-Bottom Baskets

Akimel O’otham. Basket, 1920-1940. This basket has qualities that make it prized by collectors. Unlike the older utilitarian baskets, it has a flat base, convenient for placing on a desk or end table. It also has extremely fine stitching, with 18 stitches and nine rows per inch. Baskets were an important source of income for families during a difficult economic period that spanned the Depression. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 173BA

Akimel O’otham. Basket, 1920-1940. The weaver of this basket used a very old basket design on a basket with a flat base, a shape that developed during the 20th century. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 1000BA

Akimel O’otham. Basket, 1920-1940. Na-SW-Pi-B-212


Akimel O’otham. Basket, 1920-1940 NA-SW-PI-B-125

Akimel O’otham. Basket, c. 1920s. The weaver of this basket created a variation on the squash blossom design on a large, vase-like basket. Usually, the design is worked on a fairly flat basket, creating the design on this shape would have been quite difficult.


Anastasia Zachory, Akimel O’otham. Basket, early 1930s. The orange elements in this basket are dyed with utoi root. This basket was collected by Bert Robinson who was the superintendent of the Pima Agency from 1935 to 1951, during which time he amassed an impressive basketry collection.

Made for Market Tohono O’odham

1 Melissa Narcho, Tohono O’odham. Martynia basket, 1951. This basket is unusual because it is made mainly of devil’s claw or martynia. Usually only the design is done in martynia. 3689-1

2 Dorothy Lopez, Tohono O’odham. Man in the Maze plaque, 1974. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn E. Quick, Sr. na-sw-pg-b-96

3 Tohono O’odham. Pictorial basket, c.1974. A woman and a man are picking fruit from a saguaro cactus on this basket. This depicts an important cultural activity called “pulling down the clouds.” Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn E. Quick, Sr. NA-Sw-PG-B-92

4 Tohono O’odham. Female figure, c. 1970. “The creativity and humor of the weaver are seen in this piece. To create a piece like this—with so many layers and elements—is a challenge.” Terrol Dew Johnson NA-SW-PG-B-119

5 Edith Lopez, Tohono O’odham. Pictorial basket, c. 1977. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn E. Quick, Sr. NA-SW-PG-B-125

6 Mary Thomas, Tohono O’odham. Friendship basket, 1981. “Mary Thomas is a well-known leader, and is known for doing miniature baskets. She does a lot of special designs. This particular piece has a snake in the middle with a friendship dance depicted. Mary is a very friendly, happy person with a lot of positive energy, and you can see that in her work.” Terrol Dew Johnson. Gift of Mary CoughlinNA-SW-PG-B-200

7 Terrol Dew Johnson (b. 1971), Tohono O’odham. Basket, 2001. “This basket is one of my contemporary pieces. This was made with a gourd as a base and bear grass for the top. I do traditional and contemporary work. This reminded me of ripples of water. When you drop a stone in the water, the water comes up, but it also ripples.” Terrol Dew Johnson 4116-1

8 Eugene Lopez, Tohono O’odham. Basket, c. 1970. “Eugene Lopez is the weaver who brought the wire basket to the public. He has done a lot of wire baskets that have amazing shapes and sizes. He has taught classes. He now works with bailing wire baskets. He gets the wire from cowboys who leave it out when they are finished with the bails of hay. He strings it and works it and weaves baskets. He also taught his niece how to weave wire.” Terrol Dew Johnson. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III na-sw-pg-b-64

9 Tohono O’odham. Basket with lid, 1974. This is a split-stitch coiled basket. “There is more to this basket than first meets the eye. The weaver completed one full coil by weaving in one direction, then returned in the opposite direction to place an additional stitch. This basket is a descendent of the large grain storage baskets. It takes the same techniques and refines them.” Terrol Dew Johnson. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn E. Quick, Sr.  na-sw-pg-b-99a&b

10 Dorothy Lopez, Tohono O’odham. Squash blossom basket, 1974. Advisor Terrol Dew Johnson commented on the skill with which the weaver managed to keep the design balanced and the petals of the blossom perfectly spaced. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn E. Quick, Sr. na-sw-pg-b-124

Horsehair miniatures

Miniature baskets of horsehair were first made in the mid-20th century. Akimel O’otham weavers may have begun this art form, but Tohono O’odham weavers are among those who have excelled in making larger and more complex baskets. In the 1970s, stitching on the baskets became finer and the baskets gradually became larger and more detailed.

1 Akimel O’otham. Bowl basket, 1960s-1970s. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry S. Galbraith 3309-251

2 Flora Juan, Tohono O’odham. Cat effigy, 1960s-1970s.Gift from the estate of Ann Marie Hery 3449-21

3 Tohono O’odham. Cat effigy, 1960s-1970s. Gift from the estate of Herman and Claire Blum 3576-124

4 Tohono O’odham. Basket with lid, 1960s-1970s. Gift from the estate of Herman and Claire Blum 3576-128a&b

5 Tohono O’odham. Basket, 1960s-1970s Gift from the estate of Herman and Claire Blum 3576-130

6 Tohono O’odham. Man in the Maze basket, 1970s-1980s. Bequest of Shirley McArdell 4062-100

7 Attributed to Betty Elizabeth, Tohono O’odham. Snake pictorial basket, 1980s. Gift of Michael Mulberger Na-Sw-PG-B-187

8 Tohono O’odham. Eight-petaled squash blossom basket, 1970s-1980s. Gift of Michael Mulberger. Na-Sw-PG-B-188

Akimel O’otham Miniatures

1-6Akimel O’otham. Baskets,1900s-1940s. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection 158BA,164BA,165BA,166ba,182ba,183ba

7 Akimel O’otham. Basket with lid, 1920s-1940s. Gift of the Henry Horner Straus Memorial 3401-26a&b

8 Akimel O’otham. Three-petaled squash blossom basket, 1920s-1940s. NA-SW-Pi-b-8

9 Akimel O’otham. Jar basket, 1920-1940s. Na-SW-pi-b-85

Tohono O’odham Miniatures

1 Tohono O’odham, Basket, 1965-1975. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry S. Galbraith 3309-127

2 Annie Antone (b.1955), Tohono O’odham. Pictorial basket, 1980s-1990s. Annie Antone signed this miniature basket with her initials. The design depicts Kokopelli the humpbacked flute player with notes coming from his flute. Bequest of Shirley H. McArdell 4062-128

3 Linda Mike, Tohono O’odham. Basket with whirlwind design, 1960s-1970s. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III NA-SW-PG-B-56

4 Tohono O’odham. Polychrome basket, 1960s-1970s. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III   NA-SW-Pg-B-74

5 Tohono O’odham. Polychrome basket, 1960s-1970s. Gift of Miss Marion R. Plummer and Mr. and Mrs. Stanley W. Plummer

Following the Gila River to Home: The Maricopa


At home, we had our own orchards and gardens. Everything was green around us, and we had lots of water. Nowadays, you can see dry fields. It’s barren looking, and it wasn’t like that when we were growing up. Ron Carlos, Piipaash, Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community

The original homeland of the Maricopa was along the Colorado River with other Yuman-speaking people. Beginning in the 1600s, warfare pushed the Maricopa east up the Gila River. By the 18th century, they had formed a defensive alliance with the Akimel O’odham (Pima) to defend their new homeland. The alliance was an important defense for settlers and an aid to the military fighting the Apache. The Maricopa farming heritage fit well with the Akimel O’odham, as long as the Gila and Salt Rivers ran. When the water was taken away, wage work in nearby urban areas became a source of revenue.


My great-grandfather had his ranch area near Lehi. He was here when the Mormons came. He translated Spanish for them and the O’odham and Piipaash. The Piipaash worked for him. He was Tohono O’odham and he came up from Caborca because the Federales were killing the O’odham in Mexico. His family was left behind, and they were killed. Gary Owens, Piipaash, Tohono O’odham, Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community

In the past, many Southwestern Native people needed some knowledge of three or more languages—their Native language, Spanish and English. The people generally known as Maricopa are Piipaash or Pee Posh in their language.

Family and Community

All our uncles and their families lived at our grandparents’ place in small houses. In the daytime everybody would go to work and the women would fix a big meal. We had tables under a big cottonwood tree by the house. Every evening, family dinner was like having a big community feed. After dinner, we’d sit and talk, and the kids would play. People from the community would come by and talk about the news going on. Ron Carlos, Piipaash, Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community

There in Maricopa Colony [at Gila River Indian Community], people seem to identify me as coming from Ft. Yuma. Ft. Yuma people identify me as coming from Maricopa Colony. Wherever I go – both places, meeting relatives, it feels good. It feels like they’re part of my home. Yolanda Hart Stevens, Pee Posh, Quechan, Gila River Indian Community

Maricopa families remain a community within the larger Akimel O’odham communities. They continue their family ties to relatives along the Colorado River. They have also continued the traditions of bird singing rooted in traditions of the Colorado River people. Their traditional clothing, worn for special social and ceremonial occasions, echoes that of other Yuman peoples.

Yolanda Hart Stevens (b.), Pee Posh/Quechan. Dress, 2004 and Necklace, 2000.

This dress style is worn for social and formal occasions such as community celebrations or cremation ceremonies. At cremation ceremonies, women would wear this traditional attire to honor the deceased and then at the end of the ceremony it is sent along with the departed. The dress is in the style worn by adults and older women in that it has two rows of jumbo ric-rac. A dress for a younger woman or girl would have smaller ric-rac. According to Stevens, this style was replaced as an everyday dress in the 1940s when women began wearing mainstream style clothing, possibly as a result of the boarding school influence. A traditional dress would have had a wrap-around skirt. 4288-1a&b and 4059-1

Maricopa. Vase, 1880-1915. “The bull’s eye design (circle with a dot) is a good luck sign. Water is represented by lines around the circle; these are old designs.” Dorothea Sunn-Avery Gift of Jeanie and Joseph Harlan. 4113-7

Theroline Bread (b.) Maricopa. Effigy jar, c. 1990. “This is made by my mother in the Colorado River style of pottery. The female has black lines under her lip, and the male has two red marks on his cheek to identify the war paint. Traditionally when you cross over to the other side, the beads will identify you to the people that have passed. The middle design represents the body.” Dorothea Sunn-Avery Gift of Jeanie and Joseph Harlan 4113-17

Beryl Stevens, Maricopa. Vase, 1960s-1970s. Gift of Jeanie and Joseph Harlan 4113-23

Anita Redbird, Maricopa. Bowl, c.1970. Bequest of Eleanor Libby 4163-31

Grace Monahan, Maricopa. Wedding vase, 1960s.Bequest of Eleanor Libby 4163-32

Grace Monahan, Maricopa. Bowl, 1971. “Grace Monahan is one of the few potters that make these flowerpots. Making this piece of potter is really hard. You have to watch these depressions carefully for cracks while it’s drying. If it does, it just ruins your whole pot. So it’s really hard to make this kind of pot. But Grace Monahan has done a lot of good work on hers.” Dorothea Sunn-Avery Gift of Lois and Jerry Jacka 4187-19

Mary Juan (1920-1972), Maricopa. Bowl, 1949. The high polish of this bowl may have helped it to win a first prize award at the Gallup Inter-tribal Ceremonial in 1949. NA-SW-MA-A1-1

Ida Redbird(1892-1971), Maricopa. Bowl, 1947. Ida Redbird was one of several Maricopa potters who was instrumental in reviving pottery in 1936. She often taught and demonstrated at the Heard and other museums. For these achievements, she was posthumously inducted into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame. This beautifully polished piece was recognized with a 3rd place ribbon at the 1947 Arizona State Fair. Gift of Miss Marion R. Plummer and Mr. and Mrs. Stanley W. Plummer NA-SW-MA-A1-8

Mary Juan (1920-1972), Maricopa. Pitcher, c.1950. . “Mary Juan did pottery that was thin and really delicate. Making this style of pottery is really hard to do with this handle on it. The handle has to be made and then allowed to dry, to harden a little bit, and then has to be replaced and remoistened to put on each end. Everything else is polished with the rock. The two saps of the Mesquite tree make the black design. Right along the lip is an arrow, and right along the bottom there is an arrow. A long time ago, a lot of Maricopas used the arrowhead design. Later, Mary Juan and Ida Redbird and my grandmother, Mable Sunn, all used it.” Dorthea Sunn-Avery   NA-SW-Ma-A3-1

Maricopa. Effigy jar, early 1900s. A male and female figure are depicted on this jar. NA-SW-MA-A3-33

Mary Juan (1920-1972), Maricopa. Jar, 1951. A cousin of Ida Redbird, Mary Juan was a major figure in the Maricopa pottery revival of the 1930s. This piece won 1st prize at the 1951 Arizona State Fair. Gift of Miss Marion R. Plummer and Mr. and Mrs. Stanley W. Plummer NA-SW-MA-A3-45

Vesta Bread (b.?-1976), Maricopa. Vase, c. 1973. Gift of Dr. C. Welch NA-SW-MA-A3-54

Maricopa. Frog effigy bowl, early 1900s. As water animals, frogs have been popularly depicted on jewelry and pottery by desert peoples. Gift of Mrs.Leona Koch NA-SW-MA-A3-61

Maricopa. Bowl, 1950-1970.Gift of Mr. Jerry Collings NA-SW-MA-A3-67

Mabel Sunn, (b.?-1980), Maricopa. Vase, 1930s. The combination of cream-colored and red slips was used at the turn of the century. By the 1930s few Maricopa potters continued to use the cream-colored slip. NA-SW-MA-A7-7

Mabel Sunn, (b.?-1980), Maricopa. Bowl,1930s. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III NA-SW-MA-A7-10

Alma Lawrence, Maricopa. Bowl, 1930s-1950s. This bowl shows the mastery of polychrome painting, which is rarer than the usual black-on-red decoration. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III NA-SW-MA-a7-14

Mary Juan, (1920-1972), Maricopa. Paddle, 1930s-1950s. People of the southern Arizona desert, the O’odham and Maricopa potters, and in the past Hohokam potters, use a paddle and anvil technique to shape their pottery. The anvil is held in the hand on the inside of the vessel, and the paddle flattens and shapes the clay against the anvil. In contrast, Pueblo people employ the coil and scrape technique to build their pottery. Gift of Mr. Frank SchillingNa-SW-MA-Q-1

Barbara Johnson (1923-1997), Maricopa. Vase, 1984. “Long-neck vases are really hard to make. From the neck on up, you have to stop between different coils because it takes a little bit longer for it to harden. Smoothing it is a little bit more delicate too because you have to be careful of getting hairline cracks along the neck. The designs on the pots are for water. The scroll design is also known as a water design.” Dorthea Sunn-Avery, Maricopa. RP8

Phyllis Cerna, Maricopa. Seed jar. 2001. RP3

Maricopa Pottery

We had relatives who made pottery. We’d go up to Red Mountain and picnic and dig in little areas where there was red clay. We’d go up there and spend the day. Ron Carlos, Piipaash, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community

My grandmother would bake bread in the ashes of the fire and make chili. We would eat from pottery bowls that we would buy from the Maricopas. Frances Kisto, Akimel O’odham, Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community

The story of Maricopa pottery is one of successive revivals, as pottery transformed to serve the home differently. Traditionally, Maricopa pottery was used in the home for cooking and for the storage of water and grains. When metal utensils replaced pottery in the late 1800’s, potters decorated their work and sold it primarily to tourists visiting the Phoenix area. During the early 20th century, potters found that falling prices did not repay the hours of work they invested. A potter might sell a small piece to a trader for 5 cents and the piece would be resold for 20 cents. In the late 1930s, potters formed the Maricopa Pottery Cooperative with the goal of raising the quality of work and commanding higher prices. Today, there are approximately eight Maricopa potters. The Pee-Posh Project is working to generate interest among young Maricopas in the pottery tradition.

Home in Two Countries: Yaqui


We can travel 400 miles to the south and return to our ancestral land near the ocean. We retain 485,000 hectares in the State of Sonora, Mexico, despite many wars that took place to remove us from the land. Our relatives in Rio Yaqui still follow the ways of our ancestors. Amalia A.M. Reyes, Yaqui

The Yaqui live in two countries. Some live in the homeland along the Yaqui River in Sonora, Mexico. Others live in the Arizona communities of Penjamo (Scottsdale), Guadalupe (near Tempe), Yoem Pueblo (Marana), Old Pascua, Pascua Yaqui and Barrio Libre (all three in Tucson).

In Mexico, the Yaqui have survived centuries of warfare to retain their land. By 1910, they were the most dispersed Indians in North America with thousands enslaved and deported to the Yucatan plantations. A thousand or more fled to the U.S. In 1937, a Mexican presidential decree established a third of the original territory as the Yaqui Indigenous Zone, in recognition of Yaqui land claims. The Sonoran Yaqui continue as farmers and ranchers in their homeland.

Those who fled to the U.S. found work in agriculture or the railroads. None of their settlements had reservation status until 1964, when the U.S. government granted the Yaqui 200 acres of land near Tucson for the community of New Pascua. In 1978, the Yaqui became a federally recognized tribe.


Modern Yaqui has about sixty-five percent of its words borrowed from Spanish. In 1993, less that 25 percent of adults and 10 percent of children spoke Yaqui. For years many people suppressed identity and language, fearing deportation. Cultural revitalization programs and Yaqui-as-a-second-language are taught at community colleges in Tucson and Phoenix.

Family and Community

I have the idea of Rio Yaqui as home. Guadalupe is home. And to me, also, home is a way of life. Merced Maldonado, Yaqui, Guadalupe

Before contact with Europeans, the Yaqui lived in communities of 300 to 400 people. The lived in dome-shaped houses with adjacent shade structures or ramadas. They grew amaranth, beans, corn, squash and cotton in nonirrigated fields.

Beginning in 1617, the Jesuits consolidated the Yaqui into eight communities of 3,000 to 4,000 people. The Yaqui adopted a new style of house in these towns– rectangular wattle-and-daub with fenced household compounds. The rural areas maintained the scattered dome-shaped home settlements. Wheat, peaches, figs, sheep, cattle and horses were supplied by the Jesuits and successfully grown.

The Spanish introduced the social institution of godparents (compadrazco), with obligations for rites of passage such as baptism and confirmation. This enabled families to create family like support when actual families were torn apart by deportations or flight. The Yaqui continue this practice in ceremonies today.


As a pascola, when we’re in ceremonies– especially funerals and anniversaries– we bring the humor, and we really have to turn around all the sadness at funerals. It almost sounds like we’re making fun, but we’re not. We’re just turning feelings so that people are not so sad, feeling so much pain. Merced Maldonado, Yaqui, Guadelupe

Every Yaqui fiesta must have a pascola. He is the host of the fiesta, the master of ceremonies whose behavior during the fiesta is full of contrasts. He is serious and he clowns. He is an orator and he is a mime. A major fiesta may have several pascola. The name “pascola” is a combination of two Yaqui words: pahko, which means fiesta and ´ola, which means old man. The pascola has three musicians associated with him. One plays the harp, one plays the violin and one simultaneously plays the drum and flute. The pascola begins his dances with his mask on the side or back of his head, accompanied by the harp and violin. Next, he dances to the flute and drum with his mask on his face.

Fiestas may be associated with major religious holidays or smaller private events, such as a birthday or a death anniversary. Most fiestas begin at sundown and continue through the night, ending early the next day.

1 Merced Maldonado (b. 1956), Pascua Yaqui. Buzzard rattle, 2004. “This is a story about a buzzard and a man who is always dreaming of things. He sees the birds, and he wishes he could fly. And he sees men that play harp or violin or whatever talents that they have, and he wishes he had that talent. And some of them are willing to teach him, but he’s lazy and wishes he could just magically get that power. He admires the buzzard and speaking out loud, says he wants to fly. And that buzzard hears him and grants his wish. So, he takes off his suit of feathers and he hands it to the man, and the man strips himself of his shirt and his pants and gives him his clothes. And as they change clothes, they become that other thing, but they still end up retaining some of their own traits. The buzzard is not having a good time being a man because he does not know how to walk and he smells like a buzzard. And the man is spending all his time looking for food and not having any time to fly, but he really learned what it meant to be hungry. So when they meet after seven days, the man is ready to be a man again because he did not like to be hungry. And it helps this man, because all the jobs require some kind of hard work.” Merced Maldonado

2 Merced Maldonado (b. 1956), Pascua Yaqui. Caterpillar rattle, 2004. The handle of the rattle is in the shape of a caterpillar, the body of the rattle is a cocoon, and the metal rattles are in the shape of butterflies. The buzzard rattle, caterpillar rattle and this sea horse rattle relate to the earth, air and water, essential elements for the Yaqui spiritual world.

3 Rio Yaqui. Basket, 2004.

4 Merced Maldonado (b. 1956), Pascua Yaqui. Sea horse rattle, 2004. “My dad used to bring us sea horses from Rio Yaqui, and he would give them to us for good luck. My dad would say when times are bad, you have to remember the sea horse. When the current is against him, he grabs onto that seaweed and he holds on with his tail and all that force just goes past him. And when the current changes, then it carries him forward. And that’s the way life is. There will be times when everything is against you, and you’re trying to swim against the current. So the seahorse teaches you to hold on during the hard times when everything’s against you and save your energy, and when things change, you’re full of energy and ready to go.” Merced Maldonado

5 Rio Yaqui. Pottery, 2004.

6 Merced Maldonado (b. 1956), Pascua Yaqui. Torim mask, 2004. “This is the mask of Torim. He’s like a tree rat. In our stories, he is the first drummer, but we also call him Tampaleo. But he doesn’t just drum, he also carries a melody. He whistles through his teeth, and he’s the one that originated our cane flute. We don’t have teeth like he does or a mouth shaped like his; his mouth is actually like a flute. The red spots on his chin represent pomegranates. When I made this mask, I imagined that he was eating pomegranates–really enjoying them–and he’s got all these seeds on his chin. I carved the teeth out of a buffalo rib that I had at home, because I wanted something that was just like teeth. You can see the little hole that he would be whistling through. So this is Torim.” Merced Maldonado

8 Merced Maldonado (b. 1956), Pascua Yaqui. Chavito mask, 2004. According to Merced Maldonado, the Chavito or goat is an enchanted goat, the father of the pascolas, who teaches the pascolas to dance.

9 Cecilia Yoquihua Chaptemea, Rio Yaqui. Basket, 2004.

10 Beatrice Maldonado (b. 1957), Pascua Yaqui. Painted gourd, 2004. Floral elements and birds are significant to the Yaqui spiritual world.

11, 12, Rio Yaqui. Floor mats, 2004

13 Yolanda Molina, Rio Yaqui. Skirt and blouse, 2004. Beatrice Maldonado (b. 1957), Pascua Yaqui. Deer’s eye necklaces/Beaded necklaces, 2004. “Deer’s eye necklaces are worn as protection. The deer is watching over you.” Beatrice Maldonado

1 Alex Maldonado (b. 1959), Pascua Yaqui. Harp, 2004. “Harps have been used for a long time since they were introduced to our tribe by the Spaniards. Catholicism was also introduced into our culture. So there’s a combination of old traditions, and what we consider new traditions even though it was introduced probably about 400 years ago. The harp is usually used in our ceremonies, whether it’s funerals or a baptism or celebrations, and also social events. Generally, when the harp is being played, we have a dancer called the pascola, and he dances in front of the harp. The harp is accompanied by the violin. So that’s what we consider the newer tradition. The old traditions would consist of a drum and a flute played at the same time by a person called tampaleo.” Alex Maldonado

2 Yaqui. Pascola rattle, 1960s. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Harvey III

3 Merced Maldonado ( b. 1956), Pascua Yaqui. Cane flute, 2004. The pascola musician plays the flute with one hand and the drum with the other.

4 Alex Maldonado (b. 1959), Pascua Yaqui. Pascola belt, 2004.

5 Yaqui. Pascola mask, early 1900s.     YQ-I-3

6 Yaqui. Drum, c. 1976. Goat hide was used for the head of the drum.   YQ-M-6

7 Yaqui. Pascola mask, early 1900s. This mask was made at Potam village in Sonora, Mexico. The cross on the forehead protects the pascola dancer during ceremonies.

8 Alex Maldonado (b. 1959), Pascua Yaqui. Pascola figure, 2004. “The pascola in this carving is just waiting his turn to dance. He’s taking a little rest. And he’s also the elder. There are usually three pascolas that dance, and there’s always an elder. Sometimes four, but generally there’s three. When he’s not dancing, he’s got a wooden mask on the side of his face because he’s not going to be wearing that all of the time. Sometimes he’ll put it on the side, sometimes he’ll move it all the way on the back of his head. The necklace that he wears, hopo’orosim, is also part of the regalia. It’s for protection. Around his ankles, he would be wearing butterfly cocoons. Tenevoim is what they’re called in our language. They’re like rattles. They’ll make a lot of noise, and they’re filled with little pebbles. A pascola dances with rhythm.” Alex Maldonado

9 Yaqui. Pascola mask, 1950s-1960s. Gift of Bernie Brown           YQ-I-2

10 Esteban Matus (b. 1962), Pascua Yaqui. Yaqui sculpture, 2004. According to the artist, many Yaqui young people play baseball and also are learning about traditional Yaqui culture, so he carved a baseball-playing pascola figure as a way to connect with young people.

Poems by Ofelia Zepeda for Home: Native Peoples in the Southwest


‘Am watto weco, ‘am watto hugidan.

Beneath the ramada, next to the ramada.

Things happen there.

Meals are cooked,

meals are shared.

Good news is delivered there,

bad news is delivered there.

People laugh there,

people cry there.

People mourn their dead there,

people celebrate their births there.


Watto, Ramada.

A family gathering place,

an outdoor kitchen,

an outdoor sleeping area.

It is a multi-purpose place.

Just a roof for shade, no walls.

The sun goes by over head but does not

see what is beneath the watto.

The moon goes by over head but beneath

the watto all things remain in shadows.

Under the watto in the quiet shades of darkness

the people gather to do the things they must do.

The watto is only for people and the things they must do.

Squash Under the Bed

There were always crooked neck squash under our beds.

The space under the bed met the criteria of a cool, dark, dry place.

These large, hard skinned squash with speckled and

serrated green and yellow designs shared space under our beds

with new cowboy boots, lost socks and long forgotten toys

not to mention dust and little spiders.

The squash rested under there with our memory of summer,

awaiting winter.

With the cold weather, we split the hard skin and expose the

rich yellow meat inside, the bounty of large seeds entangled in the

wetness of its origin.

We save the seeds for next summer.

We eat the soft, sweet meat of the winter squash.


Winter Squash

A soft clunk, another clunk and another.

My mother takes her small machete-style knife

and rhythmically chips away the hard skin.

She rotates the body of the squash holding it by

the neck.

They look like a dancing couple.

Facing each other, twirl and chop.

The chop resonates through the thick skin.

The meat of the squash will be steamed until soft.

From there a variety of other possible preparations.

Refried like a vegetable.

Sweetened with brown sugar or panoche from Mexico for dessert.

Mixed with milk is the best!


The Two Village System

The man from Jiawul Dak (Fresnal Village, on the O’odham Reservation)

I knew when it was time to move again.

My mother was starting to pack our things,

our bedding, some cooking pots, our food.

I didn’t like it when we moved.

It was hard work. We all had to help, even the children.

We carried our things over the mountain to the other place we lived.

Going over the mountain was hard.

I remember how happy I would be when we climbed to the top of the mountain.

I was happy because I could see our other village down below on the other side.

With my little pack tied to my back, full of belongings, I would run down the side of the

I was lucky I never fell, it was a steep mountain, I was tired but somehow had the

energy to run, you know the way children are. I was eager to get to where we needed to go.

I was happy to be home, to be at our other home.

We would not move again for a long time.

That, I was most happy about.


Redefining “home”

As children we grew up knowing our neighbors not as people living next door to us,

but as relatives.

Our aunt and her family lived on one side, and our cousin and his family lived on

the other. That is the way it had always been.

A home is both the space inside and outside the building.

A home is more than just the structure, the house, the ki:, the hogan, the wikieup.

Ki: in O’odham means both house and home.

It is the aroma, the textures of the buildings that help us remember.

The smell of the wet dirt walls,

the smell of dry dust.

It is the smell of the green brush on the roof, in the walls.

It is the texture.

The smooth mud walls,

the rough ribs from cactus and ocotillo,

the branches of cottonwood and posts from cedar and pine.

Home is a place that has the right feel,

the right smell,

the right sense of coolness when you touch the walls.



My polishing stone.

My paintbrush.

There are always stories about them.

My stone is my mother’s

She loaned it to me one day

She said, “Try this one,”

I did, I kept it.

She never asks about it

I never bring it up.

My paintbrush is an old one

From Avon, you know, Avon Calling,

I got it in the 60s.

It is a fine-haired brush for fine lines.

It works.


Pottery is utilitarian

Used for carrying water

For cooking food

For storing dry goods

For holding the spirit of those

Since gone

And if the designs on it are nice

Well, that is good too.



A pot that might have a crack

An imperfection

For some may not be aesthetic

But at the same time

It can still be useful to somebody, somewhere.



Shiprock, Monument Valley

Just seeing a picture of it

Can take a Navajo home.



When it is three a.m.

And it’s crunch time

Who are you going to call?

Your family. No question.

Family means dependability.

I go home for events,

Christmas, fairs, birthdays, funerals.

A Navajo family is like the mob

Without the violence.

In the end, being a good Navajo

Is knowing how to juggle,

How to fix a car.


As I leave home

I look all around me

I look at these mountains

Jemez Mountains, Sangre de Cristo.

I want to remember them.

I take in deep breaths.

I want to remember what the air is like here.

I focus on the sound around me.

I want to remember what it sounds like here.

When I am away

Someplace far away

And I feel homesick

I remember the mountains, the sounds,

And I breathe in.


The Navajos who leave the reservation

And come to Phoenix

Never intend to stay.

In their bags they pack their plans

For returning home.



The scent of burning wood holds

The strongest memory.

Whether it is mesquite, cedar, piñon or juniper.

It is distinct.

The sweet smell holds the strongest memory.

We stand around the fire

Smoke like memories permeate our hair,

Our clothing, our layers of skin.

We walk away from the fire

No matter how far we walk

We carry this scent with us.

Paris, France or Germany

We catch the scent of burning wood

We are brought home.



I hear them laughing,

A joke.

I have no clue.

In my grandmother’s mind a million

Pieces of information.

I cannot access, at least not yet.

I bought a book for learning Navajo.

Other times I hear them talking.

I know they are talking about me

By the rhythm.

Right in front of me!

It hurts.

I scream!

They look at me.



Our birth is announced by the smell

Of cedar burning through the village.

We gain our entry by our clan, our name.

When we leave this world

It is by our clan that we are embraced,

Recognized in the next world.


Back when a woman had a child quiet and darkness surrounded them. No one knew but the medicine man and the midwife. The people would finally know because you could smell cedar burning throughout the village. My name—I am loud, my first cry was loud. It could be heard from the house to the baking oven. My grandfather gave me the name of the shell that men wear that makes a lot of noise when they dance. I live up to my name.


It is the sound of the jingle of bells

The sharp rattling of seashells

The muffled sounds of butterfly cocoons

The sound of pebbles inside a solid gourd

It is wood against wood of a rasp

Hide against hide of a taunt drum

Wood against the wind of a bullroar

It is a basket faced down

It is the sound of voices

In song, in oratory and prayer

All uttered in the language they were meant to.


Shuffling of feet on the earthen floor

The rattling of a pot

in the kitchen

The echo of someone chopping wood

A dog in the distance

Barking as if it belonged to someone.



A house is not just a structure.

A house needs to be kept alive.

Someone must be there to maintain

That life.

The walls.

The red rocks turn into powder.

Using sheepskin to layer the color on.

And then caliamite came in a box.

My grandmother was so happy.

She mixed it, used sheepskin to layer it on.

She taught her children to do this.

We taught ours.

Now this is a bygone era.

Today we go to Wal-Mart

Buy wall paint and slather it on.



The Laughter of children, of women

The serious talk of men

The voices of the old people

Worn and tired from their journey of age

Talking, talking and praying

Their knowledge will pass on

To all willing to receive it.



Massive amounts of food.

Massive amounts of relatives.

And still, massive amounts of leftovers.




Boiled all night for special events.

In the morning the whole house

Smells like soup.


My mom makes lots of it.

Stuffs grocery bags full.

Try and make it last as long as possible.


My mother taught us

Whoever comes across

The threshold of your house

Is not a stranger.

Feed them.

Even if you only have a piece of

Dried tortilla, share it.


The smell of food

Chile cooking

We know how hot it will be

Just by the smell.

Bread, tortillas baking outside.

There is no other cuisine like it.

The memory of women who say,

“I practically sing when I cook.”

Heard Museum Writing

On Language

I think it’s just plain lost.

You need to learn English

In order to survive

In the White world.

But, you need your own language

In order to survive

In order to survive forever.


I will go back home

Whether it is to live

A while longer

Or whether it is in death

You know, that’s where I’ll be.

The Colorado River

It was our life’s blood

Everything we live on

Comes from the river

We drink the water

We grow crops.

That’s all a part of what we are here.


We don’t know our own Wisdom…

The Creator marked it with a staff.

Our protection is in the mountains,

Monument Peak

The Black Mountain

Riverside Mountain

The Big Marias.

A sacred circle of mountains.

Traveling back to Parker

I see Monument Mountain

I know I’m home.


The Smell of Agriculture

We were driving around at Salt River.

It was July.

I opened my window

Stuck my head outside

Enjoying it.

I said, “It reminds me of home.”

The driver looks at me and says,

“Veronica! That’s rotten cantaloupes.”

“I know, doesn’t it smell good.”


Fried Food

We all cooked the same things.

Fried potatoes

Fried beans

Fresh tortillas

And coffee, of course.

All of it reminds me of home.

Lazy bread, oven bread…

Fried rabbit

Wrapped in a tortilla

Now, that’s good food!


Family, they’re there in sorrow.

They’re there in happiness

They’re there if you want them to be there.

Knowing your relatives

Knowing who you are

And where you come from.

Singing in the night, singing in the morning…

The Heat of Parker, Arizona

Managing the heat of Parker

Cooking outside

Playing until dinner time

Saying nothing, listening to everyone else talking.

It is the little things I remember best.

Moving our beds outside

Or when our dad would drive us

To the highest mesa

We’d sleep there

Where it was coolest.

We never thought we were poor, we just didn’t have anything…

A Peaceful Place

The place of our beginning,

Spirit Mountain,

A good place to pray.

I go there,

My children go there.

Lizards find peace there too.

It is the place of our beginning,

Spirit Mountain.

Picacho Peak in Parker

The Creator said, “This is your land,

It will always be your land.

I will always be here to watch over you

and your land.

I will be here as long as the mountains.”

Learning from Pain

“They’re going to turn out all right…

They’ll be okay”

That’s what the old people used to say.

“Let them make mistakes

They learn from those mistakes.”

Mistakes that hurt so much,

Hurt so many,

So painful to watch,

But they learn from the mistakes

“I really feel we’re going to heal someday.”

The greasewood, when it rains you can smell it miles and miles away, it has the most beautiful smell.

It Has Not Always Been Like This

The young people

They think it has always been like this.

No. The roads have not always been paved,

They were dirt.

The water didn’t run in the house,

If you were thirsty you went to the river.

If you were hungry you cooked outside.

They think it has always been like this,

Run down to the Circle K or McDonald’s

To get anything you want.

The river has its own smell, smell the river and it smells so good. The Verde River smells so good.

When the Ground Was Still Wet

When we talk about our stories,

When the ground was still wet,

I thought we borrowed that from

The White people, Noah’s Ark

You know,

But now I know,

Science tells us,

We did have floods here on our land.

I learned this from the science channel.

Sprinkle water in the burden basket and you will smell the place of its origin.

Three Times a Day

Good ol’ beans cooking,

And fry bread.

That’s about it.

I love fry bread and beans

Always been my favorite food,

I could eat it three times a day.

That’s it.

I Love her Lazy Bread

Pack Rat–The All Time Favorite

A stolen donkey,

We’d ride it, find mounds,

Poke around the mounds,

The rat would stick out its head,

Our slingshot would do him in.

Skinned, strung, and slung on the donkey.

About thirteen of them!

At the end of the day we rode home

Our mother, our grandmother prepared them for a meal.

I guess that is what we survived on.

Hamburger gravy was one of my favorites.

Where the Tortilla Landed

Where the tortilla landed, that was yours.

Jerky gravy was a meal in itself

Along with a tortilla.

Back then we ate out of a communal pot

Or frying pan.

Take your tortilla throw it and where it landed in the pot,

Everything that was beneath it was yours to eat.

This was our game.