The Southwest cultural region incorporates the lower parts of Utah and Colorado, all of Arizona and New Mexico, and the northern deserts of Mexico. The land is a semi-arid mix of deserts, canyons, mesas, and mountains. The Ndee (Apache) and Diné (Navajo) migrated to the Southwest from the western Subarctic before 1500 and adapted to the challenges of living in an arid terrain. The Pueblo peoples have successfully maintained spiritual, cultural, linguistic, and artistic traditions over many generations. Today, about twenty-five Pueblo communities continue to thrive in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and Colorado, each with a distinct cultural heritage, language, and/or dialect.

Jar with Eagle Tail Feather

Nampeyo, 1860-1942, Hopi, Hano, First Mesa, Arizona, Jar, about 1905, clay pigments, Fenimore Art Museum Cooperstown, NY. Photograph by John Bigelow Taylor.

The Pueblo peoples’ strong ties to traditional culture are evident in their extensive, rich pottery traditions. When the transcontinental railroad reached New Mexico in 1880, Pueblo potters adapted their production and styles to meet the demands of a new marketplace. Pottery and other traditional art forms were made for commercial sale in addition to local use. This vessel was made by the legendary potter Nampeyo, who pioneered the modern revival of fine Pueblo pottery making, which had declined after reaching a zenith in the late pre-contact period. The designs and shapes of ancient Sikyatki-style ceramics, two of which can be found within this exhibition, inspired Nampeyo. Her work remains important for Hopi potters today, and some of her great-granddaughters carry on the tradition.

Gallery Panorama

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