A Busy Month

Since Spring Semester ended I started working more hours at the museum from 1:30 to 4:30. I would like to share my summer journey with you thus far.

I was given the privilege to design three display case in the Mezzanine level. I decided to highlight varies pots made by the San Juan / Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, potters from the 1930 San Juan Pottery Revival, and two pots from the Zia Pueblo.

The first case from San Juan / Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo will highlight different styles of pottery from the pueblo. In the second case viewers will see pottery made by potters Reyecita A. Trujillo and Tomasita Montoya participants of the revival. The third case has one of the largest pots the museum has, which was made by a potter from the Zia Pueblo. Beautiful photographs of each pueblo will also be included in each case.

I have been pretty busy working on redoing the labels on the artifact folders (there are quite a few folders let me tell you). Once this job is done all the file labels will have the accession number and brief description of the artifact on it.

Freezer treatment has been taking place on baskets, headdresses, and textiles that will be placed on display. Artifacts are placed into a freezer for four days to kill any possible bugs or larvae that might be present. This is a standard procedure that is done in museums. Once the treatment is completed the artifacts will be ready to be displaced.

Another project that I have been working on is a “Self-Guide Tour” pamphlet. This pamphlet will be a great handout to give visitors that stop by the museum.

As always I invite you to stop by the Luther Bean Museum, see the cases which I have written about and hopefully by the time you stop by for a visit the Self-Guide Tour pamphlet will be done. Enjoy your own personal journey this summer. God bless.

What is the correct name?

My research has continued into the correct name of the Apache headdress we have on display. In a previous blog I had written about it being a Gaan Headdress also known as a Crown Headdress. Last week while updating some of the files on the Apache artifacts I came across the headdress being referred to as the Devil Dancer Headdress. What? I was definitely going to have to do more research! I ordered some books through the interlibrary loan to see what I could uncover. One of the books turned out to be very informative…

Masked dancers, “A group of masked dancer impersonating the supernatural spirits, or gaan. These dancers perform at various curing ceremonies and at a girl’s puberty ceremony. They have been variously referred to as Crown Dancers and, incorrectly, as Devil Dancers or as actually being the Mountain Spirits or gaan that they are representing.” (Ferg) In the religious belief of the Apache gaan or mountain spirits have the power to drive out evil. The Apache dance calls on the supernatural assistance of the gaan for critical moments in their earthly journey. In the past the mountain spirit was summoned for a healing. Today the dance is danced during the sunrise ceremony, a girl’s puberty rite. This ceremony is the most meaningful ritual.

The young girl becomes white painted woman, Mother Earth. The ceremony symbolically reproduces the creation of the earth, man creation, and the history of earth and man. It carries the girl symbolically through all the stage of her future life into a happy old age. The Mountain Spirit Dance, is meant to drive away the evil spirits and offer blessings to the girl, as well as the tribe. The girl is dressed in bright yellow along with a girl friend who dance in place on a special prepared ground. Five men enter the dance space, four portraying gaan and one a sacred clown, who prepares the way for the gaan. The men wear elaborate crowns painted with sacred designs and carry painted wands made from yucca. The ceremonial dance lasts for four nights, ensuing the spiritual assistance of the supernatural during this rite of passage into adult tribal membership.

Why not plan a museum trip this summer to see the gaan headdress. May the Mountain Spirit bring you blessings as well. God Bless.


Ferg, Alan. Western Apache Material Culture, The Goodwin and Guenther Collections. The Arizona State Museum. The University of Arizona by The University of Arizona Press. 1987.

Fuhrer, Margaret. American Dance the Complete Illustrated History.” Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data. 2014.

The Jicarilla Apache

Baskets made by the Jicarilla show little relationship to those made by other Apache (Mescalero, Chiricahua, or Western Apache) instead they resemble baskets made at an earlier time by their pueblo neighbors. The Jicarilla Apache migrated into the Southwest between A.D. 1200-1500, their history and basket making are closely associated with that of the Pueblo Indians. When the Jicarilla arrived in the Southwest the importance of basket usage was already in decline.

Migrating from the north into the southwest they established themselves in the mountains and plains of Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. These lands included the headwaters of five major rivers: Arkansas, San Juan, Canadian, Pecos, and the Rio Grande, in addition to high mountain ranges with conifer forests, fertile valleys, upland plateaus, and grasslands that extended from the base of the Rocky Mountains eastward. The Jicarilla had close relationships with Pecos, Picuris, and Taos Pueblos adapting many of their skills, including basket making.

Contact between the Jicarilla and the Northern Pueblos goes back hundreds of years. It appears that the Jicarilla Apache learned basket making form the Pueblo Indians. Their baskets resemble Navajo, San Juan, and Ute baskets in the materials used, woven right to left from the work surface, and finished with a herringbone rim.

I invite you to stop by the museum and see the beautiful baskets on display.


Dalyrmple, Larry. Indian Basketmakers of the Southwest. Museum of New Mexico Press. 2000.

Medical Tools owned by Dr. Littleton J. Bunch

I came to research Dr. Bunch after the museum was contacted by SLV Health to use his medical tools for their 90th Year Anniversary display. The Luther Bean Museum acquired the medical tools in 1989 by a donation made by his family. The objects date from the time of Dr. Bunch’s practice in Alamosa from 1952 into the 1980s.

The process to loan objects out from the museum involves a request form, which lists the items that will be on loan. The credit line is noted for the labels i.e. Loan from Luther Bean Museum, Gift of Littleton J. Bunch, M.D. The form is signed by a representative from SLV Health acknowledging receipt of the objects and by a staff person from the museum. I photographed the instruments before they left the museum. The photographs will show the condition in which they left and also what objects were taken by hospital for their display. I had the privilege of accompanying Tawney in taking the instruments to the hospital.

Dr. Bunch came to Alamosa because of his love for the west and the atmosphere of small towns. He wrote letters to hospitals in small towns in Colorado. The administrator of the Alamosa hospital Elton Reese was the only person who responded suggesting that he come to Alamosa for a visit. The Bunch family drove into town pulled into a gas station where a college student was pumping gas. The college student was asked if Alamosa was a good place to live. This college student was former Adams State College coach, Dr. Joe Vigil who responded to this question by stating that Alamosa was a great town and recommended it highly. Dr. Bunch received job offers from hospitals around the valley, the deciding factor for him to choose Alamosa was that the hospital was near the college. The Bunch family made their home in Alamosa in 1952 where he began practicing medicine as a family doctor.

The college atmosphere attracted Dr. Bunch that he volunteered as a teacher at Adams State where he taught biology classes. Later he taught medical terminology for those who were in the pre-med program. Dr. Bunch taught from the 1950s to the 1980s. When the college’s athletic doctor left for two years to receive more medical training Dr. Bunch became the temporary doctor.

Museum Acquisitions

My internship duties have been to work on new acquisitions the museum has recently acquired. One of the acquisitions was a portfolio of five drawings by James P. Hatfield given to the museum by Mary Motz.  Mary shared that it was about 30 years ago around Christmas time that Alamosa National Bank gave the portfolio to their patrons.

The acquisition process involves filling out different forms. One form is a Gift Agreement Form. The form list the name, address, phone number of the person who made the donation, the item(s) donated, the proposed credit line to acknowledge the gift and how it would appear on object display labels. For this donation it would read, Gift of Marvin ’58, ’59 and Mary Motz ’62. The owner signs the form stating that he or she is the rightful owner and holder of clear title for the items of property listed and that none of the object(s) are subject to liens. An authorized person from the museum also signs this form. Another form that was completed is an Acquisition Proposal Form. This form covers the object description such, artists’ info, object type, dimensions, credit line and inscriptions/distinguishing marks. The inscription for this acquisition had each print signed by Hatfield and four of the prints dated “74’”.

Who was James P. Hatfield? James came to Adams State in the late 1930s; he taught for several years and served as chair for the Art Department for fifteen years. He was an accomplished Artist/Painter; painting in a variety of styles that included murals, portraits, and landscapes. Through a generous donation made to the art department he founded the remodeling of the lobby in 1977 (now Community Partnerships). The space which was remolded was named for Hatfield. His name has been retained in the art department’s Hatfield Gallery.

San Juan 1930 Pottery Revival

A new pottery style emerged in the 1930’s under the direction of Regina Cata, a woman of Spanish decent who had married into the pueblo.  According to a friend of Regina’s Maurine Grammer it was the superintendent of the Santa Fe Indian School, Chester Faris who encouraged Regina to revive pottery making at the San Juan Pueblo. Regina organized a group of women potters: Reyecita A. Trujillo, Tomasita Montoya, Luteria Atencio, Crucita Trujillo, Crucita A. Talachy, Gregocita Cruz, and one other potter whose name no one seems to remember.

Photograph Courtesy of the Palace of the Governors Photo Archive

The potters studied ancient Potsuwi’i incised pottery shards dating from around 1450-1500. The shards had been discovered in the abandoned ancestral village of San Juan, across the Rio Grande from the current pueblo. This new style of pottery was heavier more like Santa Clara pottery; it consisted entirely of redware. The unpolished underbodies of the pots were painted and the midbody had a matte band. The matte band became the mural space, to be carved and painted with natural slips.  The band was either carved and decorated with red, buff, and white matte paints or incised with a micaceous slip, which is applied before the firing of the pot. Designs are typically geometric patterns, flowers, feathers, kiva steps, spirals, rainbows and sun/cloud patterns.

On exhibit at the Luther Bean Museum are pots made by Reyecita A. Trujillo (active c. 1925-45) and Tomasita Montoya (1899-1978). Reyecita made the largest revival pottery pieces and is noted for her incised technique inspired by Potsuwi’i. Tomasita is known for her incised polychrome redware jars, bowls, and vases. Decoration of her vessel included clouds, kival steps, triangular fret and fine line hatching.


Reyecita A. Trujillo (active c. 1925-45). San Juan Pueblo/Ohkay Owingeh. Jar, 1930s/40s. Red, tan, and beige on tan clay, burnished. 32.8 x 41.4 cm. (dia.) Gift of Dr. F. C. Spencer. 1945.1.15.

Reyecita A. Trujillo San Juan Potter Courtesy of the Palace of the Governors Photo Archive

Tomasita was known for her incised polychrome redware jars, bowls and vases. Decoration of her vessels included clouds, kival steps, triangular fret and fine line.

Tomasita Montoya (1899-1978). San Juan Pueblo/Ohkay Owingeh. Storage Jar, c. 1960-65. Tan, white, and red on red clay, burnished, incised. 22.6 x 33.2 cm. (dia.). Gift of Mrs. Charles H. Woodard. 1965.1.8


Batkin, Jonathan. Pottery of the Pueblos of New Mexico 1700-1940. The Taylor Museum of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. 1987.

Frank, Larry and Francis H. Harlow. Historic Pottery of the Pueblo Indians 1600-1880. Schiffer Publishing Ltd. 1990.

Hayes, Allan and John Blom. Southwestern Pottery Anasazi to Zuni. Northland Publishing. 1996.

San Ildefonso Potters Maria and Julian Martinez

San Ildefonso Potters Maria and Julian Martinez Photograph Courtesy of the Palace of the Governors Photo Archive

Maria Martinez is considered one of the most famous of all the pueblo potters. She learned to make pottery from her aunt Nicolasa. By the age of thirteen Maria had acquired exceptional skill in making pottery. She married her husband Julian in 1904, he was an acknowledged painter. They spent their honeymoon demonstrating pottery at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, this was the first of many exhibitions they attended.

In 1907 Julian was hired by Dr. Edgar Hewett the Director of the School of American Research in Santa Fe, NM to help with an archaeological excavation on the Pajarito Plateau. Dr. Hewett encouraged Maria to make replicas of the old polychrome pots that were found. The painted designs were in black and orange on a cream slip. Julian spent a lot of time searching for new design ideas by studying ancient pottery collections at the Museum of New Mexico. He was a great innovator and experimented with new paints, clays, and techniques.  His experiments led him to the invention of the now famous matte-black-on-polished-black pottery. By 1921 Julian had perfected the process and the black-on-black pottery became extremely popular. Julian’s Avanyu (water serpent) and feather designs were also very popular (Schaaff, 2000).

Maria and Julian discovered how to make the now famous black-on-black pottery in 1918. Maria skillfully made the pots and Julian did the painting and design. Their work was shown at exhibitions and World Fairs. At the 1925 New York World’s Fair they won Best of Show and eight years later won again the Best of Show, this time at the Chicago World’s Fair. Together Maria and Julian were key figures in leading a pottery and cultural heritage revival, not only in their pueblo of San Ildefonso but as well as other pueblos (Schaaff 2000).

Their four sons were also taught the art of pottery making. After Julian’s death in 1943 Maria began working with her daughter-in-law Santana. It was after 1956 that she worked with her son Popovi Da. Signatures on Maria’s pottery vary depending on who she was working with at the time. Pieces made by Maria and Julian from 1918 to 1923 are unsigned. By 1923 Maria began signing her name “Marie.” From 1925 until Julian’s death the signature on their pots was “Marie + Julian. Pottery made from 1943-1954 are signed “Marie + Santana or Maria + Santana.” When her son began working with his mother 1923-1971 they would cosign the pieces “Maria/Popovi.” In 1959 Popovi had an idea of adding the month and the year of firing to the pots along with the signature. The reason for this was to distinguish authentic Maria pieces from others who had signed her name. Maria also made smaller pieces on her own, which were always plain, polished, undecorated pieces, but were well made; these pieces were signed “Maria Poveka” (Spivey, 1989).


Scaaf, Gregory. Pueblo Indian Pottery: 750 Artist Biographies. Santa F, NM: CIAC Press. 2000.

Spivey, Richard L. Maria. 2nd Edition. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland Press. 1989.

To Do List

It is a wonderful feeling when you have a list of jobs that need to be done and you can cross some of them off your list! That is exactly what I did this last week; I crossed off a few items from my list at the museum. Inventory sheets for the vessels in the Mezzanine level…printed and filed…DONE! Photographs of these vessels…printed and filed…DONE! Labels for these vessels…printed and displayed be each vessel…DONE!  San Juan Revival information for flip book…DONE!

I hope you can cross some things off your to do list. Best of Luck! Happy Easter and God Bless.

Spring Break Trip to New Mexico

On a snowy Friday, March morning, I set out on my journey to visit the Museum of Indian Arts & Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

Julia Clifton, Curator of Archaeological Research Colletion

Julia Clifton is the Curator of Archaeological Research Collections in Santa Fe. The state’s repository facility is off site from the museum. The research center conducts archaeological research projects throughout the state of New Mexico. Their mission is to identify, interpret, and share information about prehistoric and historic sites across the state. The office serves state agencies and private organizations that need archaeological studies performed as part of their development projects. In addition, they provide ethnographic and historical research services and have an award-winning education outreach program.

Julia explained the process of receiving artifacts that are brought in from a field site. I was
taken on a tour of the facility: storage rooms, work rooms, and laboratory where radiocarbon dating is conducted. I was privileged to have the innovative carbon dating process that is conducted by Dr. Marvin Rowe explained to me. I found this to be very fascinating and I would say the best part of the visit.


Collection of artifacts from field sites

Dr. Marvin Rowe

Explanation of carbon dating process

I have a complete journey of a vessel from a field site to the museum. I am very fortunate to have meet several people who work at the Laboratory of Anthropology, they do great work and are very dedicated to the research they conduct.

Collections Management Specialists, Amy Cisneros and Intern

At the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque I had the privilege of having Amy Cisneros the Collections Management Specialist be my tour guide of the center. Amy has worked for the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center for fifteen years. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is the place to discover the history, culture, and art of the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico. The museum has a permanent exhibit, “We Are of This Place: The Pueblo Story,” this exhibit highlights the Pueblo’s legacy of resilience, telling their story in the words and voices of the Pueblo people. The design of the exhibits is inspired by traditions that have been passed down for generations.

No more flip books… kiosk instead

In the South Gallery, they have rotating exhibits. Currently on exhibit is contemporary painter Marla Allison of Laguna Pueblo.

Contemporary Painter Marla Alison Laguna Pueblo

I highly recommend a trip to visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. Marla Allison’s exhibition will be on display until June. You can have breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the Pueblo Harvest Café located inside the cultural center.

Pottery Times

The period names in classifying pottery have very little to do with the pottery itself. Instead the names refer to cultural changes based on migration and developments in agricultural techniques and architecture.

  • Basketmaker II          50 B.C.-A.D. 450
  • Baskemaker III           A.D. 450-700
  • Pueblo I                      700-900
  • Pueblo II                     900-1100
  • Pueblo III                    1100-1300
  • Pueblo IV                    1300-1600
  • Historic                       1600-1880
  • Modern                       1880-1950
  • Contemporary            1950-Present

The museum has vessels from Pueblo III, Pueblo IV, Historic, and Modern eras. Our oldest artifact on exhibit is the Western Mesa Verde bowl, the estimated date is c. 1250 to 1350.

After 1600 pottery became less important to the native economy so smaller quantities were made. Pottery from the Historic period are the rarest of all. The museum has five vessels during this date range of 1600-1880. Stop in for a visit and see if you can find these five pots that are on display in the Mezzanine Level.


Hayes, Allan and John Blom. Southwestern Pottery Anasazi to Zuni. Northland Publishing. 1996.