Dawn Navasie

Dawn Navasie, Hopi potter
Dawn Navasie made this polychrome Sikyatki-style jar with fire clouds and 3-panel bird element and geometric design

Dawn Navasie (Polaquimana, Red Tail Hawk, member of the Water Clan) was born to Eunice (formerly Fawn) Navasie and Joel Nahsonhoya at Toreva (Second Mesa) in July, 1961. Among her siblings are Dolly Joe (White Swann) Navasie and Fawn (formerly Little Fawn) Navasie. Their grandmother was Paqua Naha, famous as Frog Woman. All three siblings learned the intimate details of traditional pottery making from their mother, Eunice. Among their other close relatives were Pauline Setalla and Joy Navasie (aka 2nd Frogwoman).

Dawn began playing with clay when she was about 4 years old but didn't get serious about it until shortly after graduating from high school. Then, working with her mother and following her advice, Dawn was soon entering major juried competitions and earning awards for her work, including a Best of Division at the Hopi Show of the Museum of Northern Arizona. It's been said that she inherited her famous mother's sure hands and design vision. When their mother died, the three sisters divided up her polishing stones and are using them still.

Dawn's favorite designs are rainbirds, rain and clouds. She paints with red and black, the red coming from yellow clay mixed with water (it turns red during the firing), the black from boiling down beeweed until it forms a sap that she preserves in corn husks until she's ready to use it. Her brushes are traditional: the chewed ends of strips of yucca plant. She fires outdoors with her husband helping, using pieces of cedar and dry sheep dung to build her fire. The pots are placed specifically in a four-direction pattern on a piece of tin-covered grate, then covered with large pottery shards and pieces of tin to protect the pottery in the firing (wind, smoke and uneven heat that produce fire clouds). She also sprinkles dried cedar springs around the bottom of the fire to purify the pottery.

For many years Dawn has been a regular at the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market, the Heard Museum Indian Fair, the Museum of Northern Arizona Hopi Show and others.

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