Nambé Pueblo lies north of Santa Fe and is one of the Eight Northern Pueblos in New Mexico. The Pueblo has about a thousand inhabitants and a storied background.
Several members of the tribe have served in the New Mexico State Legislature, and one, Ben Ray Lujan, served as a United States Senator and a member of the House of Representatives. Warriors from Nambé played a key role in the Great Pueblo Revolt which forced the Spanish back into Mexico in 1680.
The Nambé people made traditional pottery until the middle of the 20th century when it came close to dying out. Lonnie Vigil did not start out to revive the pottery arts of his village, in fact, he did his best to get away from the traditional life of the Pueblos. Born in 1949, he was a good student and set his goal on college.
He attended Eastern New Mexico University, got a degree in business administration, worked as a business and financial consultant in New Mexico and then moved to Washington, DC. where he was on a successful career path.
He attended a show at the Kennedy Center called, “Night of the First Americans” and began to realize that he was not happy being away from his roots. In 1982, he returned to New Mexico and began to work the micaceous clay found on Nambé Pueblo land.
Micaceous clay contains mica chips that result in a shiny surface. In addition to being beautiful, the chips make the clay from Nambé the only Pueblo vessels than can be used in cooking!
The art of pottery making was nearly dead at the Pueblo. But he had his supporters. He was encouraged by his grandmother, Perfilia Anaya Pena, and his great-aunts, who were potters.
He started winning awards and other members of the Pueblo followed his lead and began to recreate the traditional pottery.In 2001, he became the first potter working with micaceous clay to win the Best of Show award at the Santa Fe Indian Market.
Lonnie Vigil is a man who believes in what he is doing and is willing to stretch his boundaries. We are happy to have these two beautiful pieces of his work in the gallery.
As a side note: Nambé Pueblo’s original name is “Nanbé Ówingeh” in the Tewa language.