This week I researched these names of Tomasita Montoya, Reyectia Trujillo, Lela and Van Gutierrez, Petra Tafoya, and Dora Gato to confirm if these individuals were potters.

I am delighted to share the following information on the potters whose pottery we are fortunate to have at the museum:

Tomasita Montoya (1899-1978) was a San Juan Potter. She was one of the original seven potters in the 1930’s “San Juan Revival”. Especially known for her incised polychrome redware jars, bowls and vases. Decoration on these vessels included clouds, kival steps, triangular fret and fine line hatching. On occasion she utilized micaceous clay, adding some textured geometric elements.

Tomasita worked along side her daughters; Dominguita Sisneros and Rosita de Herrera who are also famous potters.



Reyecita A Trujillo was from the San Juan Pueblo. and was one of the seven original potters who participated in the San Juan pottery revival. She worked with her husband Juan Hilario Trujillo who would carve designs on her pots. Known for her redware polychrome plates, carved blackware and micaceous jars.


Picture of Lela and Van Gutierrez Santa Clara Pueblo ca 1933

  • Lela and Van Gutierrez were potters from Santa Clara, they tested many ideas in pottery making, developing a decorative scheme that featured earth colors on a matte background. Using bold curvilinear designs on neutral tan or beige became the base for a new Santa Clara style. Lela and Van were true innovators and specialized in pictorial designs in using a variety of hues and colors not normally associated with pueblo pottery. Lela and her son Luther Gutierrez (1911-1987) collaborated on pottery following the death of Van in 1956. Luther continued in his father’s style.

There remain two names I am still researching, Dora Cata and Petra Tayofa. May my journey in search of two more potential potters be successful

Southwest Pueblos and Languages

This week my journey consisted of research on the Tewa, Keres, Zuni, Hopi, Tiwa, and
Towa Pueblo’s, they are grouped by language:

  • Tewa: San Juan (Ohkay Owingeh), Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Pojoaque, Nambe, and Teseuque. (There was also a group called Southern Tewa south of Santa Fe during the Colonial Era, but these pueblos are all gone now.)

There is a single Tewa speaking pueblo at Hopi First Mesa that is just called Tewa Village. (Thano, Tano, and Hano is used by historians, but the village members do not like those terms.)

  • Eastern Keres or Keresan: Cochiti, Santo Domingo, San Felipe, Santa Ana, and Zia.
  • Western Keres: Acoma and Laguna (Laguna is actually a confederation of something like five or six small villages; generally, all these villages can just be grouped into a single category of Keres.)
  • Zuni: Spoken at the single village of Zuni.
  • Hopi: Is a confederation of a number of villages spread across three mesas.
  • Northern Tiwa: Taos and Picuris and Southern Tiwa:  Isleta and Sandia (by Albuquerque). They can also be grouped under the generic name Tiwa.
  • Towa: Is spoken only at the Jemez Pueblo.

As I do my research I feel like I am working on a puzzle that in the end will not just be about the artifacts, but about languages, artists, history, and life of some beautiful people.

Gaan Apache Headdress

I had the privilege this week of assisting with unpacking and displaying some Apache artifacts. The Apache collections consists of headdresses and woven baskets.

crown dancer

Apache Crown Dancer web. Oct. 2016

I would like to share some of my research findings about the Apache headdress known as, “Gaan Apache Headdress”. The Gaan is a mountain spirit / supernatural being who have lived in mountain caves since the world was created by Yusn. They are the Apache’s protectors and teachers; appearing at dances during ceremonies. They come in groups of five, four symbolizing the four quarter of the earth, and the fifth to lead the dance and mediate between the dancers and the humans.

The correct name for the headdress is “Apache Crown Dancer”. Crown dancing is a very old and sacred dance tradition. According to Apache belief, the dance was taught to the Apaches by the mountain spirits as a means of healing. Apache believe that the creator sent the Gaan to the Apache to teach them to live in harmony.

May your journey in life be filled with harmony.


Feest, Christian F. The Cultures of Native North Americans. Konemann Verlagsgesellschaft mbH. 2000.

Safe Handling of Artifacts

I started transcribing my notes from my visit with Patrick. Eventually these notes plus any additional research information will be placed into the folder of the artifact. I will say that a seed was planted by Patrick in me to learn more about the pottery and about the different Indians who made the beautiful pots that are housed at the museum.

A demonstration on safe handling was presented this week. Safe handling is essential to maintaining the integrity of an object. All objects are to be handled with the care and the respect they deserve. Minimized movement and handling of the object is imperative.

As a non-traditional student at Adams State I am blessed to be traveling on this road of higher education. I will say that icing on the cake for me is sharing my journey with my family, especially my grandson, Francisco. He is always eager to know what I am learning and he enjoyed hearing about the pottery at the museum. I know that the next time he visits a museum he will look at the artifacts with different eyes.

Start of my Internship

My journey as intern for the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center began the week of August the 15th. The morning started off with an introduction and a basic overview of the Luther Bean Museum.

The highlight of the week was a visit by Patrick Ortiz, a graduate student at the University of Colorado who will be receiving his M.A. in Archaeology. I had the privilege of learning from Patrick valuable information on the pottery the museum has acquired throughout the years. The information ranged from what Indian tribe made the pottery based on its style and decoration, the use of the word “olla” (Spanish for “pots”), and what time period the pottery could have been made.

A few things that I learned about the decoration of the pottery:

“The Line Break” a.k.a. “The Spirit Break” are found on many pots. There are framing lines and path lines are interrupted by a small gap called the spirit break, ceremonial break, or simply the line break. This feature has occurred on Pueblo pottery for nearly a thousand years. It is a major element in prehistoric Hopi pottery.

Some key elements in the decorations of the pottery represent other elements of nature such as turkey feathers=clouds, lighting bolts=rain, and swirls=clouds. The heart line is a painted arrow leading from the mouth into the chest of an animal motif. The heart line is said to represent life itself. It is inspired by the spiritual connection between a deer and the hunter.

I end my week excited about my journey as an intern! A memory that came to mind for me was when I was young and I often wondered about the people who worked behind the scenes in a museum and the jobs they performed, now I get to experience this life for myself.