Southwest Indian Pottery: Historic

Origin: Santa Ana Pueblo, Tamaya

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Santa Ana Pueblo Pottery and Fine Art

From looking at the recent book on Santa Ana pottery, one would suspect that pottery production at Santa Ana Pueblo was ample in the 19th and 20th centuries, but very little pottery from this time period has survived. Most of what has survived is in museum collections. Rarely does one find it for sale at auction or in galleries.

Pottery from Santa Ana Pueblo is amongst the scarcest of all pueblo pottery. Per Batkin: “As far as is known, all decorated pottery made at Santa Ana in the nineteenth century was polychrome. Reliable sources state that pottery was made in considerable quantities until 1900, although not much has survived. By the 1920s, the tradition had practically died out. Apparently, no potters entered their work for judging at the Indian Fair between 1922 and 1924.”

A major change in pottery from Santa Ana occurred with this move.  Historically, basalt (lava) was used as a tempering agent in the same manner that Zia Pueblo potters used and still use.  When Santa Ana moved away from the lava areas and closer to the Rio Grande, the potters switched from lava to sand as a tempering agent.

After the arrival of the train to New Mexico in 1880, pottery production at Santa Ana greatly decreased because of the import of pots and pans to the area.  From then until 1940, production decreased until it almost disappeared.  Since then, there have been three attempts at revival.

The first revival of pottery production at Santa Ana occurred in the late 1940s.  The custodian at Coronado State Monument, located very near Santa Ana Pueblo, encouraged the revival of pottery making and allowed the potters to display and sell their wares at the monument headquarters.  Eudora Montoya was one of the potters in this first revival and by 1960, she was the only one remaining.

The second revival took place in 1973 with Eudora Montoya conducting classes to teach pottery-making to others.  Montoya had been hired by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Albuquerque to conduct these classes.  The class had 18 students at the beginning.  Most of them lost interest or passed away over the next 20 years.  Eudora Montoya continued making and selling her pottery however.

The third revival of pottery production at Santa Ana began in 1994 when one of Eudora Montoya’s original students, Elveria Montoya, began teaching classes and did so for another two and a half years until eye surgery forced her retirement.  By 2005, a large number of her students were still producing pottery, however there are apparently only three potters who are active today.

Pottery of The Pueblos of New Mexico 1700 - 1940. The Taylor Museum of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Jonathan Batkin. 1987.