Village of the Strong People

San Juan Pueblo-Ohkay Owingeh,  means “Village of the Strong People”. The language spoken by the San Juan Pueblo is Tewa. The first contact they had with the Spanish was in 1598, when Juan de Onate arrived on a survey exploration. The Spanish were impressed by the friendly people of the San Juan Pueblo. Onate named the pueblo San Juan de Caballeros (Saint John of the Gentlemen). The pueblo is located 30 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico it has been continuously inhabited for over 700 years. There are more than 100 of its original buildings that still survive (Gibson, Daniel, 2001).

Famous potters for Ohkay Owingeh are Leonidas C. Tapia, Reyecita A. Trujillo, and Rosita Cata.


Gibson, Daniel. Pueblo of the Rio Grande:  A Visitors Guide. Tucson, AZ: Rio Nuevo Publishers. 2001.

Visit from a Friend

Last Monday Jeanne Brako the Curator of Collections from the Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango stopped by to visit the Luther Bean Museum.  I meet Jeanne when I went on my first museum trip. Since her area of expertise is textiles her visit turned into a work session.  Jeannie showed us how to prepare our textiles for freezer treatment and also gave us some valuable tips on how we can better store our textiles. In June two of the museum committee members Linda and Tawney traveled to Fort Lewis to work with Jeanne. They were shown how to hang textiles without causing damage to it.

Jeanne is not just my friend now, but “our” friend. Thanks friend for all your help.

July News…

Boy oh boy where has the summer gone? The start of school is right around the corner! One good thing about working inside is, the museum is nice and cool!

I would like to share what I have been up to on this part of my summer journey….

As I mentioned before in one of my post the museum committee was busy planning a fundraiser for the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center. I am happy to say that the fundraiser turned out to be a great event and brought in some money for the museum to continue with preservation, research, and internship opportunities for students. Thank you to all who supported the fundraiser.

The display cases in the Mezzanine level are all completed and have wonderful artifacts for visitors to the museum to enjoy. The museum was given a very large display case that now has the largest pot made by the Tewa’s on exhibit. I again extend an invitation to come and visit the museum.

I see an end in sight to my file management project that I started at the beginning of summer. All I can say, I am very pleased with the way the files are looking…organized! This is something I want to complete before I leave my position as intern.

The database is another project that I have been trying to get as much work done as possible. Little by little you see small parts of a big job falling into place.

Enjoy the rest of your summer. May your journey bring you new adventures! Peace


Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center Fundraiser

A Celebration of Art and Culture is the theme for the museum fundraiser that we be held Saturday, July 15th at the Luther Bean Museum. The fundraiser will help support the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center. The university and museum have been very fortunate to have the Salazar Families monetary support given to the museum. Through this financial support an internship position was created; I am lucky to say I was awarded the first internship.

A committee of hard working people have spent a lot of time planning this fundraiser. Many ideas were discussed in the end this is what the fundraiser will entail:

ASU President, Dr. Beverlee J. McClure and Secretary of State Ken Salazar will give the opening remarks.

I am proud to say that my husband and master santero Geronimo Olivas will give a presentation on the art of santo making.

Adopt an Artifact will give attendees the opportunity to select from a list of artifacts they can adopt to help support the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center in the Luther Bean Museum.  The sponsor will receive a certificate of their adopted artifact and their name will appear on the museum display label with the object for one year.

A Silent Auction featuring art by Geronimo Olivas, Stephen Quiller, Cloyde Snook, and Mary Lavey (donated by Suzy Hussman) will be held as well. The museum is very fortunate to have these wonderful artists support the museum with a donated art piece. This is an opportunity to own a unique and one of a kind piece of art!

I am lucky to be a part of the museum fundraising committee and to help generate funds for the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center. Through the support given to the center research, preservation on needed artifacts, internship, and so many other things that go into running a museum will continue to happen. Thank you!

A shout out to the Salazar Family for their support and all who support the museum! Peace and God Bless

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.