Native American History

New Mexico’s Native American presence is well known and unmistakable. It’s a presence that dates back centuries ago, when early ancestral tribes lived as hunter-gatherers throughout the Southwest. Over a thousand years ago, many of these groups joined together to establish permanent settlements, commonly known as pueblos. It’s a way of life that continues to this very day among New Mexico’s tribes. Our store allows you to experience the culture and history with each unique and authentic piece.

 

Navajo

The Navajo Indians settled in the Southwest about 150 years before the Spanish.  After learning pottery art from neighboring pueblos, the Navajo Indian artists have developed a very unique and distinctive style. Artists of the Navajo Indian tribe use a natural terra cotta colored clay as a base for their pottery and then incorporate a beautiful palette that includes color bands of rich greens and blues. Within these bands you will find etching of various symbols and designs. The most common symbols depicted on pottery from the Navajo Indian tribe are the kokopelli and Yei, supernatural beings, some of whom are associated with forces of nature.


To the Navajo tribe, the color turquoise represents happiness, luck, and health.  The Navajo were talented in molding turquoise into beads, and making necklaces. They learned silversmithing from the Spanish and pueblos and quickly began to incorporate both silver and turquoise to make beautiful jewelry pieces.


Santa Clara

The Santa Clara Pueblo is separated from its closest neighbor, San Ildefonso Pueblo, by the Rio Grande River. Santa Clara artists are well known for their black-on-black art with some pieces demonstrating a black  matte over glossy finish. Santa Clara Pueblo artists rely on etching and carving to create designs rather than painting them.  The artists favor floral patterns, butterflies, hummingbirds, and dragonflies in their pieces and many of them incorporate small stones for colored decoration.

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Jemez

Jemez Pueblo is the northernmost of three major Pueblos along the Jemez River. Their pottery style today is heavily influenced by the Zia Pueblo,  neighbors who helped revive Jemez Pueblo’s pottery tradition. A lot of the Jemez pottery has a glossy appearance perfected by the traditional stone polishing technique that most Jemez Artists have incorporated into their artwork. Jemez art is not limited to pottery. It also includes basketry, traditional woven textiles, embroidery, stone and bronze sculpture, leatherwork, and silver, gold, and semiprecious stone jewelry.

Acoma

Acoma Pueblo is built atop a sheer-walled, 367-foot sandstone bluff and is well known for its unique art and rich culture. Acoma pottery is strongly recognized for fluted rims, thin walls and geometric design. Orange and black are traditional colors, however, current artists have incorporated new, bright and vibrant colors as generations have passed.  Hatching patterns symbolize rain, while lightning, thunder clouds and mountains are also represented.  The influences of the cycle of life, water and sky are frequently used.