Pottery by Daryl Whitegeese, Click or tap to see a larger version
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Daryl Whitegeese, Santa Clara and Pojoaque, Black jar carved with kiva step and geometric design
Artist: Daryl Whitegeese
Pueblo: Santa Clara and Pojoaque
Dimensions: 10 in H by 11 1/4 in Dia
Item Number: xxscj6073
Price: $ 5200
Description: Black jar carved with kiva step and geometric design
Condition: Excellent
Signature: Daryl D. Whitegeese
Date Created: 2016
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Daryl Whitegeese

Santa Clara/Pojoaque
Daryl Whitegeese
Carved red jar with sun and kiva step design
 

Daryl Whitegeese was born in March, 1964 to LuAnn Tafoya of Santa Clara Pueblo and Sosi Tapia of Pojoaque Pueblo. He learned the basics of the traditional art of making pottery from his mother as he was growing up but he also grew up in a family where everyone was a potter. He says he produced his first pot on his own when he was about 32. He enjoyed it so much that by the time he was 40 he was a full-time potter.

Over the years since he began making pots Daryl has participated in the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market and at the Heard Museum Guild Indian Art Fair, earning ribbons at both for Best of Division, 1st place, 2nd place and 3rd place.

When we asked him where he gets his inspiration he immediately said "Mom and Grandma" (meaning LuAnn and Margaret Tafoya). He said his favorite shape to make is the red water jar with a bear paw imprint, "just like Mom and Grandma used to make." He also loves to decorate his pots with traditional designs.

While we were talking to him Daryl told us he loves music, especially blues and jazz. He also loves to go to Bronco games in the winter. When he's not busy making pots he's probably somewhere with his family, "spoiling the kids."


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Santa Clara Pueblo

The Puye Cliff Ruins
Ruins at Puye Cliffs, Santa Clara Pueblo

Santa Clara Pueblo straddles the Rio Grande about 25 miles north of Santa Fe. Of all the pueblos, Santa Clara has the largest number of potters.

The ancestral roots of the Santa Clara people have been traced to the pueblos in the Mesa Verde region in southwestern Colorado. When that area began to get dry between about 1100 and 1300, some of the people migrated to the Chama River Valley and constructed Poshuouinge (about 3 miles south of what is now Abiquiu on the edge of the mesa above the Chama River). Eventually reaching two and three stories high with up to 700 rooms on the ground floor, Poshuouinge was inhabited from about 1375 to about 1475. Drought then again forced the people to move, some of them going to the area of Puye (on the eastern slopes of the Pajarito Plateau of the Jemez Mountains) and others to Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan Pueblo, along the Rio Grande). Beginning around 1580, drought forced the residents of the Puye area to relocate closer to the Rio Grande and they founded what we now know as Santa Clara Pueblo on the west bank of the river, between San Juan and San Ildefonso Pueblos.

In 1598 Spanish colonists from nearby Yunque (the seat of Spanish government near San Juan Pueblo) brought the first missionaries to Santa Clara. That led to the first mission church being built around 1622. However, the Santa Clarans chafed under the weight of Spanish rule like the other pueblos did and were in the forefront of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. One pueblo resident, a mixed black and Tewa man named Domingo Naranjo, was one of the rebellion's ringleaders. When Don Diego de Vargas came back to the area in 1694, he found most of the Santa Clarans on top of nearby Black Mesa (with the people of San Ildefonso). An extended siege didn't subdue them so eventually, the two sides negotiated a treaty and the people returned to their pueblo. However, successive invasions and occupations by northern Europeans took their toll on the tribe over the next 250 years. The Spanish flu pandemic in 1918 almost wiped them out.

Today, Santa Clara Pueblo is home to as many as 2,600 people and they comprise probably the largest per capita number of artists of any North American tribe (estimates of the number of potters run as high as 1-in-4 residents).

Today's pottery from Santa Clara is typically either black or red. It is usually highly polished and designs might be deeply carved or etched ("sgraffito") into the pot's surface. The water serpent, ("avanyu"), is a traditional design motif of Santa Clara pottery. Another motif comes from the legend that a bear helped the people find water during a drought. The bear paw has appeared on their pottery ever since.

One of the reasons for the distinction this pueblo has received is because of the evolving artistry the potters have brought to the craft. Not only did this pueblo produce excellent black and redware, several notable innovations helped move pottery from the realm of utilitarian vessels into the domain of art. Different styles of polychrome redware emerged in the 1920's-1930's. In the early 1960's experiments with stone inlay, incising and double firing began. Modern potters have also extended the tradition with unusual shapes, slips and designs, illustrating what one Santa Clara potter said: "At Santa Clara, being non-traditional is the tradition." (This refers strictly to artistic expression; the method of creating pottery remains traditional).

Santa Clara Pueblo is home to a number of famous pottery families: Tafoya, Baca, Gutierrez, Naranjo, Suazo, Chavarria, Garcia, Vigil, Tapia - to name a few.

Harvest, Santa Clara Pueblo c. 1912
Courtesy Museum of New Mexico Neg. No. 4128
Santa Clara Pueblo c. 1920
Courtesy Museum of New Mexico Neg. No. 4214


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Pojoaque Pueblo

The Poeh Culture Center
Poeh Culture Center at Pojoaque

The Pojoaque Pueblo area was first settled around 500 AD and the population grew until it peaked in the 1500's. That was about the same time the Spanish first arrived. The first Franciscan mission was built at the pueblo in the early 1600's but the people were already hurting under the impact of Spanish taxes, forced labor and continuous efforts to force conversion to Christianity. That all added up to Pojoaque being in the forefront of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Immediately following the revolt, Pojoaque was abandoned and wasn't resettled until about 1706 when many Pojoaque's trickled back from the Cuartelejo area on the plains of west Kansas. By then the major Spanish retributions had died down and it was relatively safe to return, surrender and pledge allegiance anew. Franciscans were also being replaced with Jesuits and the religious fervor receded from the heights reached during the Inquisition.

The population of the reestablished pueblo grew slowly but they saw increasing problems from non-Indian encroachment until President Abraham Lincoln recognized the pueblo as an official tribe. Some documents say he awarded the tribe with an official land grant in 1864 and gave a silver cane to the tribe's governor. Other documents say the tribe was given a quit-claim deed... However it worked out, the tribe did gain some legal standing and was able to reestablish its presence until 1900 when a severe smallpox epidemic caused the pueblo to be abandoned again (the Cacique (the tribe's religious leader) died and Governor Jose Antonio Tapia left the reservation to find work).

In 1934 the Commissioner of Indian Affairs placed newspaper ads around the area calling for all Pojoaque tribal members to come back and reoccupy the pueblo lands or tribal ownership would be dissolved under the Indian Re-Organization Act. Shortly, 14 members of the Villareal, Tapia, Romero and Gutierrez/Montoya families were awarded land grants from the Pueblo land base. By 1936 tribal enrollment reached 263 members and Pojoaque became a Federally recognized Indian Reservation.

During the time of abandonment, many Pojoaque tribe members moved to nearby Santa Clara and San Juan Pueblos. Those Pojoaque who were making pottery at the time learned new things from their neighbors and when they later returned to Pojoaque, traditional pottery making changed with all the cross-pollination of styles and designs. Some potters, though, returned to making only traditional Pojoaque styles and designs. Today there is hardly any pottery being made at Pojoaque as so many tribal members are employed in one or another of the tribe's many commercial enterprises.

Location map for Pojoaque Pueblo


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Pottery Care & Consideration

  • The most obvious tip: Yes, the pots will break if you drop them!
  • Do not expose pottery to water (Inside or outside). Do not wipe with a damp cloth.
  • Dust pottery only with a soft, smooth cloth (no terry cloth or textured fabric). A very soft paintbrush (sable or camel) can be used.
  • Always use two hands to carry your pot: one on top and one on the bottom, or one hand on each side. Be careful with handles, they can be fragile. Do not grip or lift pots by the rim. Take care when wearing jewelry, rings can scratch the finish.
  • Place a piece of felt or cloth between the pot and the shelf to protect the signature.
  • Avoid exposing pottery to extreme temperature changes.

For those who live in "earthquake country" (also good for mischievous pets):

  • Weigh pots down with a small zip lock bag containing sand, glass marbles, rice, etc. Do not fill the pot more than one third full as you want them bottom heavy. Remember to remove the weight before moving.
  • Secure your shelves; make sure they are well attached to the walls. Shelf brackets should be of sufficient length and strength to support the weight of your pottery.
  • Prevent pots from sliding. Consider attaching a small wooden molding to the front of shelves. Line shelves with non-slip material (a thin sheet of rubber foam, Styrofoam sheeting, etc.)
  • If you need assistance with special problems, major cleaning (your grandchild spills ice cream on your pot), restoration or repair (the cat breaks a pot), or replacement (irreparable damage), please feel free to call us.

We hope these ideas help you maintain the beauty and value of your pottery for years of enjoyment.

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