Native Writers, Artists
      and Jewelry Makers

      Native literature and art forms
      have long embraced nature and
      imbued its basic qualities into their
      creations. Whether their art is for
      ceremonial purposes or for
      commercial sale, most artists will
      tell you they keep the spirit of the
      natural world in mind as they
      create. If you are a potter, even
      the act of digging out the clay from
      the ground is a ceremony. When you
      take something you have to give
      something, such as an offering of
      corn meal to acknowledge the earth's gift of clay.

      If you are a kachina doll carver, collecting cottonwood tree roots becomes a ceremony, as does the actual carving
      of the doll. Many Hopi men havebecome famous for their pottery and kachina doll making, and women are gaining
      reputations from making beautiful kachina dolls. Native American jewelry making and painting are new to Hopi, but
      the Navajo have long been making high quality native jewelry designs.

      Navajo Harvey Begay created unique native jewelry and was among a few jewelry makers willing to experiment
      with nontraditional forms and techniques, moving beyond the silver and turquoise designs widely used by his
      fellow Navajos. Similarly, Mike Bird-Romero is known for his use of exotic stones set in silver pins, bracelets
      and earrings. He takes care to match similar stones to form symmetrical images that appear as mirror reflections
      of each other. Some Cherokee jewelry makers continue to make intricate designs in traditional seed bead weavings
      and rossettes, while others began using many gemstone combinations and designs. Rossette or gemstone pendants
      are included in the native jewelry crafted by most Cherokee jewelry makers.

      Two successful Cherokee writers during the 20th century were the novelist John M. Oskison (1874-1947) and
      the playwright Lynn Riggs (1899-1954), who were friends and frequently wrote about the same subjects, especially
      the early days of Oklahoma in novels and plays often set on ranches and small farms. Though Riggs is more
      popularly known for "Green Grow the Lilacs" (1930), on which the Broadway musical "Oklahoma!" is based, his best
      play and certainly his most "Indian" one, is "The Cherokee Night" (1933), a tragedy that is unfortunately little
      known. Oskison's three novels, "Wild Harvest" (1925), "Black lack Davy" (1926) and "Brothers Three" (1935), are
      good as local color for their time and place.

      Cherokees were not the only Oklahoma Indians publishing fiction during this period. The Wyandot writer Hen-Toh
      (Bertrand N. O. Walker, 1870-1927) published "Tales of the Bark Lodges" (1919) and "Yoo-doo-shah-we-ah," and
      the Osage novelist and historian John Joseph Mathews produced "Sundown" (1930), "Wah'Kon-Tah" (1932),
      "Talking to the Moon" (1945), and "The Osages" (1961). "Sundown," with its theme of the mixed-blood protagonist
      within the context of a twentieth-century tribal milieu, prefigures more contemporary Native novels such as N.
      Scott Momaday's "House Made of Dawn" (1968) and Leslie Marmon Silko's "Ceremony" (1977). As in these two
      novels, the protagonist in "Sundown" is a returned war veteran. "Talking to the Moon," Mathews's philosophical
      reflections of a year spent in a hill cabin in the blackjack country of Osage County, has been called an Native
      Walden by critics. It is in any case a truly overlooked American Indian literary classic.

      One of the greatest Native American pottery makers is the famed potter Nampeyo (c. 1860-1942). Nampeyo
      studied designs on old pottery shards found at the old village of Sikydtki. Using those ancient designs and adding
      her own creative flair, she made unique pots that caught the attention of collectors. She enjoyed immense fame at
      the turn of the 20th century, which has only grown in the decades after her passing. Today her descendants,
      including Dextra and Hisi Quotskuyva, continue to impress buyers with their delicate work. The children of these
      Native artists or native jewelry makers often begin creating items when very young. If a parent makes pottery,
      the children mix clay, strain it, set it out to bake in the sun or the oven or kiln.

      Hopi pottery makers continue making native pottery into old age. Rosalie Talashie, made pottery for 40 years,
      from 1930 to 1970. She was known for her steady hand at painting the fine designs. Her father, Lalo, was
      renowned for his weaving, even exhibiting at a World's Fair.

      The Hopi and Navajo people are unusually talented, many becoming famous for their work. In Hopi we would say,
      Pas kurs urn tuhisa, meaning "You're so ingenious or creative." Navajo artist Mark Silversmith was born on
      the Navajo Reservation and raised among the red mesas of northern New Mexico. As a result of his upbringing,
      Mark was influenced by the beauty of the Southwest from an early age. He was taught traditional Navajo values
      by his grandparents and developed a deep love of nature which is visible in his paintings, such as “Aspen Monarch”
      and “Guardian of Spider Rock” which can be found in our online store.

      Nampeyo's Tewa name means Snake Girl. Her first collectors were tourists who would take the train to Holbrook,
      Arizona, and then endure a grueling wagon trip to the Hopi reservation about 60 miles away. Nampeyo was inspired
      by the large and elaborately painted older pottery found at Sikyátki. Her great-great-granddaughter Hisi
      Quotskuyva says the family has stories about the large pots Nampeyo made and how she was asked to demonstrate
      at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. Nampeyo had a big family, and today many of them still make pottery. "It's
      passed down from generation to generation," says Quotskuyva. "My kids are 26, 21 and 18, and they all know how
      to make pottery."

      Like their great-great-grandmother, Quotskuyva favors the old designs. "I keep mine more traditional," she says.
      "I like hummingbirds. I like butterflies. I usually put my own designs to those designs." She also likes going behind
      the scenes at museums, where she takes photos of pottery designs and duplicates those, adding her own touches.
      "My mom Dextra's designs are more from her dreams and how she interprets them," she explains. "Her pottery is
      always different, and she has a name for each [piece]." Quotskuyva calls her mom a perfectionist and says she's
      even seen people cry because her designs move them so much.

      That may not surprise Janice Day. She owns the Tsakurshovi art shop on Second Mesa and comes into regular
      contact with Hopi artists from all the mesas. "All the good potters are from First Mesa," Day says. She notes a
      few well-known names like Lawrence Namoki, whose pots are both sculpted and carved by hand and then painted to
      enhance the raised designs. "The etching is really nice," says Day. She also mentions Karen Abeyta and Garrett
      Maho, and offers some advice. "You better buy Maho now, because he's going to be famous." Another famous
      descendent of Nampeyo is Jacob Koopee, who has won numerous awards for his pots. His designs include animals,
      katsinas and geometric lines.

      Most potters prefer to use red clay when polishing their pots. This gives the bowls a range of colors from light
      brown to deep red. Others, like Dawn and Fawn Navasie, work with a white clay wash. "To me that's real hard
      because you have to know how to do that in order for it to be even," says Quotskuyva. She admires them for
      having the skills and patience to do that. "You have to layer it on and know how much to put on. And then being
      able to fire it and not burn it or change the white to either a fire mark or grey -- that's hard! You can't control

      When it comes to Hopi pottery, Quotskuyva says buyers should keep in mind the history and connection to the
      ancestors that pottery represents. "We're still using the same methods from hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
      It's not something we put together real fast," she says. "The potters should be real proud of that! We haven't
      lost that, and hopefully the next generation can carry it on too."

      When it comes to Hopi native jewelry and painting, one name pops up instantly: Fred Kabotie (1900-1986). "I think
      one of the things about him is that he used the arts to enhance the religious life of the Hopi," says his son Michael
      Kabotie, a jewelery maker, painter, writer and lecturer. "He was about the preservation of Hopi values." Kabotie
      says that was the basis of his father's art, and it comes out in the katsina scenes and domestic scenes he painted
      on murals, as well as in his work as an illustrator, teacher and writer.

      In 1949, Fred Kabotie and Paul Saufkie started the Hopi Silversmith Cooperative Guild. This opened the door for
      more Hopis to become famous for creating native American jewelry in the overlay style. This design is cut into one
      piece of silver and then soldered over another piece of silver. The design is then oxidized, which makes it stand
      out in the silver. Fred Kabotie's mark on Hopi art continues to this day, and, it's safe to say it will continue.

      It's also interesting to note that Fred Kabotie's Hopi name was Nakavoma, which means "from day to day." His
      name represents his father's Sun Clan. It was shortened to the nickname kavoti, which refers to "tomorrow."
      From that came the name Kabotie.

      "I think his biggest influence to me was to be aware of all the voices in the world and how the art sort of
      becomes like the Hopi ceremonies of clowning and critiquing," Michael Kabotie says. "We're all human, and in order
      to dialogue on a respectable level I journey into arts and try to make contact across boundaries, ideological
      boundaries. Some of the same problems we go through... some of the same enlightenments. That's what gets me
      into trouble! In order to be enlightened... first you have to be endarkened!"

      Another student of Fred Kabotie's was Charles Loloma, famous for his native jewelry. Loloma's first art was
      painting and he helped Kabotie reproduce murals from Awatovi for the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
      Loloma was just 18 years old at that time. He started focusing on jewelry in the 1950s and was the first Hopi to
      use precious and semi-precious stones in native jewelry. Like Kabotie, Loloma respected his Hopi culture and
      would put his art on hold in order to attend to ceremonial duties, as Hopi artists do today.

      As a teacher, Loloma's most famous student is his niece, Verma Nequatewa (Sonwai). She jokes that people say
      her art is more Charles Loloma than Charles Loloma. Like her taha (uncle), she uses precious stones and gold to
      create unique native jewelry. "She's a really good colorist," says Michael Kabotie. He sees Hopi culture and
      ceremonial dances as having influenced her work. "The colors dance together -- that's cooperation."

      For many these names are well known in the world of Native American jewelry and painting. But there is additional
      talent on the Hopi reservation. This includes Ruben Saufkie, Antone Honanie, Fermin Hawee and Michael Sockyma.

      Ferrell Talahongva spent many nights carving katsinas at the kitchen table. He would smoke and offer a prayer as
      he worked, knowing that his creation would bring in money to take care of his six children. He carved mostly for
      collectors across the country and in Europe. Sometimes he would sing the songs of the katsina he was carving, and
      everyone enjoyed the music and the smell of freshly carved cottonwood. Once he created a beautifulsculpture of
      three Hopi clowns climbing up a piece of cottonwood, each one carefully carrying a slice of watermelon in its hand,
      with a big smile on its face. The piece would perhaps seem whimsical to an outsider, but it was filled with the
      lessons Hopi clowns are meant to teach the people: how not to behave.

      Today there are dozens of extremely talented Hopi katsina doll carvers. Clark Tenakhongva carves in the old
      style. His dolls are painted with natural pigments, giving them an ancient look and feel. Delbridge Honanie is
      another outstanding living carver. "It's all connected with ancestral energy," says his friend and fellow artist
      Michael Kabotie.

      When it comes to baskets, look to the women of Second and Third Mesa. There are three types of Hopi basket:
      sifter, wicker and coiled. At Second Mesa, Joyce Saufkie, Remalda Lomayaktewa and Rhetta Adams are known for
      their baskets.

      From Third Mesa, she rattles off the names of Dorleen Lalo, Allie Selestewa (an elder), Dora Tawahongva and
      Mary Louise Sekayumptewa. Whichever method the woman uses, it's hard not to appreciate the math involved in
      calculating the dimensions of each basket's intricate design. One can also appreciate the many hours invested in
      collecting the materials and cleaning, prepping and dying them before work actually begins on the basket.
      Creating art by nature is a labor of love that some might see as dangerous. As Kabotie put it, "You scratch it, cut
      it and torture it, then you come out with something beautiful!"

      Bassman,  T. Beauty of Hopi Jewelry. 1999.
      Deats, L. Contemporary Native American Jewelry Artists. 2012.
      Dubin, L.S. North American Indian Jewelry and Adornment. 1999.
      Foxx, J.J. Turquoise Trail: Native American Jewelry and Culture of the Southwest. 1993.
      Frank, L. Indian Silver Jewelry of the Southwest, 1868-1930. 1997.
      Reno, D. Contemporary Native American Jewelry Artists. 1995.
      Schaaf, G. American Indian Jewelry I: 1200 Artist Biographies. 2003.
      Schiffer, N. Jewelry by Southwest American Indians: Evolving Designs. 1991.
      Simpson, G. A Guide to Native American Jewelry of the Southwest. 1999.
      Wright, B. Hallmarks of the Southwest. 2000.
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