Your Guide to Southwestern Native American Pottery
Promoting Potters: Past, Present, & Future
NAVAJO VIRTUAL MUSEUM
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Navajo / Dine
It is generally believed that the Navajo arrived into the northcentral area of New Mexico, migrating from the region that today is Canada. These Athabaskan speakers possibly arrived as early as A.D. 1300 to 1400. Today, they are the largest tribe within the United States with a population of over 200,000 people. The area that is now the Navajo Reservation is known to the people as "Dinetah". Early Navajo sites can be found throughout the Gobernador and Largo canyons among other San Juan River tributaries.
The surface of traditional Navajo pottery wares were treated with a pine pitch coating that gave the pottery a dark brown to black color. Decoration was very minimal, but most vessels have a applied or pinched fillet around the neck. Other surface treatments can be made with a tool, fingernail, stone, or corncob. Pottery was traditionaly made for cooking, storage and ceremonial use until commercial wares became readily available. Beginning in the 1940's, with the help of Trading posts and tourism, pottery became a sought after souvenier for the area. By the 1960's, several woman were able to supplement their household income by making pottery on a regular basis.
This page last revised: 07/30/2011
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