Archive for Blog

Legacy Of The Nampeyo Family

Nampeyo Family

 Nampeyo Historic Pottery at Kilgore American Indian Art

(Snake that does not bite)



Hano Pueblo – Arizona



Nampeyo Family

Raven Nampeyo, Thomas Polacca Nampeyo, Nampyeo

Nampeyo was born on First Mesa in the village of Hano, also known as Tewa Village which is primarily made up of descendants of the Tewa people from Northern New Mexico who fled west to Hopi lands about 1702 for protection from the Spanish after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Her mother, White Corn was Tewa; her father Quootsva, from nearby Walpi, was a member of the Snake clan. According to tradition, Nampeyo was born into her mother’s Tewa Corn clan. She had three older brothers, Tom Polacca, Kano, and Patuntupi, also known as Squash; Her brothers were born from about 1849 to 1858.[5][6]

William Henry Jackson first photographed her in 1875 and was reputedly one of the most photographed ceramic artists in the Southwest during the 1870s.[6]

About 1878[7] or 1881,[8] Nampeyo married her second husband, Lesou, a member of the Cedarwood clan at Walpi. Their first daughter, Annie, was born in 1884; William Lesso, was born about 1893; Nellie was born in 1896; Wesley in 1899; and Fannie was born in 1900.[7]

Hopi people make ceramics painted with beautiful designs, and Nampeyo was eventually considered one of the finest Hopi potters. Nampeyo learned pottery making through the efforts of her paternal grandmother. In the 1870s, she made a steady income by selling her work at a local trading post operated by Thomas Keam.[9] By 1881 she was already known for her works of “old Hopi” pottery of Walpi.[8]

She became increasingly interested in ancient pottery form and design, recognizing them as superior to Hopi pottery produced at the time. Her second husband, Lesou (or Lesso) was reputedly employed by the archaeologist J. Walter Fewkes at the excavation of the prehistoric ruin of Sikyátki on the First Mesa of the Hano Pueblo in the 1890s. Lesou helped Nampeyo find potsherds with ancient designs which they copied onto paper and were later integrated into Nampeyo’s pottery.[6][10] However, she began making copies of protohistoric pottery from the 15th through 17th centuries from ancient village sites,[7] such as Sikyátki, which was explored before Fewkes and Thomas Varker Keam.[6][8] Nampeyo developed her own style based on the traditional designs, known as Hopi Revival pottery[11] from old Hopi designs and Sikyátki pottery.[8] This is why researchers refer to her style as Sikyatki Revival after the proto-historic site.[12]

Keam hired First Mesa potters to make reproductions of the works. Nampeyo was particularly skilled. Her pottery became a success and was collected throughout the United States and in Europe.[8]

When I first began to paint, I used to go to the ancient village and pick up pieces of pottery and copy the designs. That is how I learned to paint. But now, I just close my eyes and see designs and I paint them.

— Nampeyo, 1920s[13]

Kate Cory, an artist and photographer who lived among the Hopi from 1905 to 1912 at Oraibi and Walpi,[14] wrote that Nampeyo used sheep bones in the fire, which are believed to have made the fire hot or made the pottery whiter, and smoothed the fired pots with a plant with a red blossom. Both techniques are ancient Tewa pottery practices.[15]

Nampeyo and her husband traveled to Chicago in 1898 to exhibit her pottery.[16] Between 1905 and 1907, she produced and sold pottery out of a pueblo-like structure called Hopi House, a tourist attraction (combination of museum, curio shop, theatre, and living space for Native American dancers and artists) at the Grand Canyon lodge, operated by the Fred Harvey Company.[7][8] She exhibited in 1910 at the Chicago United States Land and Irrigation Exposition.[7][13]

One of her famous patterns, the migration pattern, represented the migration of the Hopi people, with feather and bird-claw motifs. An example is a 1930s vase in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.[13] Her work is distinguished by the shapes of the pottery and the designs. She made wide, low, rounded, shaped pottery and, in later years, tall jars.[6]

Nampeyo’s photograph was often used on travel brochures for the American southwest.[17]

Nampeyo began to lose her sight due to trachoma about the turn of the 20th-century.[17] From 1925 until her death she made pottery by touch and they were then painted by her husband, daughters or other family members.[16][18

She used ancient techniques for making and firing pottery and used designs from “Old Hopi” pottery and sherds found at Sikyatki ruins on First Mesa, which dated to the 15th century. Her work is in collections in the United States and Europe, including the National Museum of American Art, Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology at Harvard University.

She died in 1942 at the home of his son Wesley and her daughter-in-law, Cecilia.[7]

She was a symbol of the Hopi people and was a leader in the revival of ancient pottery.[16] She inspired dozens of family members over several generations to make pottery, including daughters Fannie Nampeyo and Annie Healing.[6] A 2014 exhibit at the Museum of Northern Arizona presents the works of four generations of artists descended from Nampeyo.[19]

Nampeyo Family, Pottery, Raven Nampeyo, Thomas Polacca Nampeyo

Raven Nampeyo “Butterflies” (Great Grandson)

Raven Nampeyo Hopi Butterfly Jar

Nampeyo Family, Pottery, Raven Nampeyo, Thomas Polacca Nampeyo

Thomas Polacca Nampeyo “Earth Blessings”


Thomas Polacca Nampeyo Hopi Seed Jar

Nampeyo Family, Pottery, Raven Nampeyo, Thomas Polacca Nampeyo

Nampeyo Circa 1890


Stop by Kilgore American Indian art in beautiful dowtown Mancos, Colorado headed to or from Indian Market in Santa Fe to see our stunning collection of Historic Nampeyo Pottery and other amazing Santa Clara and Pueblo historic pottery! Right across the street from The Absolute Bakery Right on the Corner of Grand & Main Ave in the Historic MancoS Valley ” Where the West Still lives.”

Mancos Valley Historical Society Antique Road Show

Kilgore American Indian Art Mancos Colorado

          Mancos Valley Historical Society Antique Road Show

        A local version of Antique Road Show is coming to Mancos on Sunday, August 20.  The Mancos Valley Historical Society will sponsor the antiques appraisals from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. at the Mancos Community Center located at 130 West Grand Avenue.

    Six professional appraisers will be on hand to appraise general antiques including furniture, jewelry, and dishes and historic and contemporary Native American items.  Appraisals will be based on current market values and are the opinion of the local appraisers.

    Cost is $10 per item appraised.  Funds go to the museum fund for the historical society.

    Further information can be obtained from Kelly Kilgore, 970-533-9138.



Mancos Valley Historical Society Antique Road Show

Mancos Valley Historical Society Antique Road Show

Crow Mother Kachina

Crow Mother Kachina By Harry Bert, Kilgore American Indian Art, Mancos, CO.


Crow Mother Kachina also know as Angwusnasomtaka is a figure of great dignity. She appears on all three mesas, usually in connection with the initiation of the children, although she also appears on other occasions. At the initiation rites she descends into the kiva bearing a large number of yucca blades bound together at the base. She takes a position at one corner of the large sand painting on the floor of the kiva, with one of her “sons” on either side of her. As the candidate is brought to the sand painting she hands a whip to one of the Hu Kachinas who gives the child four healthy strokes with the yucca blade. When the yucca becomes worn it is handed back to the Crow Mother who then supplies a new one. When the initiatory whipping is over, she raises her skirts and receives the same treatment accorded the children. They are then given prayer feathers and meal and leave the kiva.

Come visit the Kilgore American Indian Art in beautiful old downtown Mancos Colorado to see the Hopi Crow Mother Kachina, seven miles east of Mesa Verde National Park to see some amazing contemporary and historic American Indian Art.



Hopi Crow Mother Kachina,

A Stunning Crow Mother Kachina by Harry Bert, carved out on piece of Cottonwood Root.

Broadface Whipper by Harry Bert

Broadface Whipper by Harry Bert. In every ceremony there are guards to prevent any transgressions on the path of the kachinas. In addition guards or angry Kachinas were formerly used to enforce community work such as the cleaning of the springs. It is to this category that the Wuyak-kuita belongs. There is evidence that this kachina has had many forms that have changed through time. Wuyak-kuita is most often seen bringing up the rear of the Hopi Bean Dance Procession or circling wide at the sides. He is the one who moves toward the clowns and absolutely terrifies them! On Third Mesa these are the kachinas who guard the kivas to keep He’-e’-e from approaching too close during the Palolokong Ceremony, or from going to the Flute Spring during the same ceremony. This Form of the kachina is the one most commonly seen at ceremonies like the Powamu.

Kilgore American Indian Art – Online Trading Post

Kilgore American Indian Art is built upon the roots of a Navajo reservation trading post. After spending much of her youth immersed among the ways of the Hopi and Navajo cultures, Kelly Kilgore is able to offer her unique expertise to your shopping experience.