If you study the history of the Southwestern tribes, you’ll find that the Hopi and Navajo have not always been the best of buddies. Some of the animosity is long term, going back to ancient days, and some of it relates to more recent times.
6 1/2 inches tall 5 1/2 inches in diameter, $1300
Some of it squarely lies on the backs of the United States Government when the "powers that be" made a decision to create a “joint” reservation surrounding the Hopi reservation that was to be shared by the Navajo and the Hopi.
3 1/4 inches tall by 3 inches in diameter, $650
The government later decided to remove all of the Navajo people from the area and added the lands to the Hopi Reservation. Now, there are a lot of sides to everything and I’m not taking one, but the observation I’d like to make today is about how individuals can overcome what larger groups fail to do.
Ida Noble, a beautiful Navajo girl, fell in love with Andrew Sahmie, a Hopi man, when they were both attending Ganado High School.
2 3/4 inches tall by 2 1/2 inches in diameter, $500
There were lots of Hopi students at the school and we got along,” says Ida. “Even though the tribes were fighting about the Joint Land Use Area, we made friends.”
Ida married Andrew and they moved to Keams Canyon on the Hopi reservation. It was there that Ida learned to make pottery in the Hopi way, using the traditional clay and firing methods.
But she chose not to decorate her pottery with the Hopi designs, instead using traditional Navajo designs like the Yei and Yeibichai, and designs from the sand paintings.
8 1/2 inches tall by 11 inches in diameter, $7,500
At first, there were some problems with relatives and other Hopi people who felt that doing pottery was not something she should be doing, but everyone worked through it.
There have been other potters, most notably Art Cody, a Kiowa who married into the Santa Clara Pueblo, who adopted pottery as an art form. In fact, Cody, like Ida, gave the traditional art form an entirely new look and expanded it’s traditional appeal. Cody died at a young age before his potential could be reached.
6 3/4 inches by 7 1/2 inches in diameter, $4000
Ida’s husband joined the military and the couple lived in Colorado Springs during that time when he was stationed there. She made trips home to dig the clay and to fire her pots. The couple then moved to Pine Springs, on the Navajo reservation, and she continued her pottery work.
When their daughter joined the service, years later, Ida and Andrew again moved to "the Springs" to take care of their grand children, but the trips to New Mexico and Arizona continued to keep the pottery going.
I really love making pottery,” says Ida. And her pottery has an appeal that crosses cultures. Today, the couple lives in New Mexico again and her work is featured in many of the Southwest’s finest galleries.
1 1/2 inches tall by 2 inches in diameter, $120
The Navajo people have always been inclusive. They took in the Pueblo men who were fleeing after the Spanish returned to New Mexico, following the Great Pueblo Revolt at the end of the 1600’s. Navajo weaving, arguably the most famous of their art forms, was learned from these Pueblo men who intermarried with the women of the Navajo tribe and passed on the art form.
They have adopted Pueblo elements into their spiritual beliefs and they are open to outsiders marrying into the tribe. Outsiders are often invited to attend their religious ceremonies.
3 inches by 3 1/2 inches, $650
You can contrast that with Pueblo tribes that are very protective of many of their religious activities. It can sometimes be years before non-Pueblo people are accepted into the society if they marry into a tribe.
But on an individual basis, like the Hatfields and McCoys or Romeo and Juliet, love conquers all. Ida and Andrew have made a life together. Andrew carves beautiful Katsina dolls and Ida creates wonderful pottery that is highly prized by collectors.
2 3/4 inches by 3 1/2 inches in diameter, $700
We are happy to be able to offer a very nice selection of her work. We are in the process of launching and finishing off a new web site, so you won’t find these on the web yet. They are being offered to our email clients and we hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy featuring her work.
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