Gladys Paquin

Gladys Paquin
Black and white geometric design on a polychrome water jar

Gladys Paquin was born in 1936 in Rehoboth, NM, to a Laguna mother (Adeline Juan) and Zuni father (Dwight Paquin). At the age of 10 she moved to Santa Ana Pueblo to live with her father and step-mother and at the age of 43, she returned to Laguna. The very next year she developed a keen interest in making pottery and went back to her step-mother to learn how to process and mix the clay.

Today she looks back on those days and says her teacher was really "The Lord," meaning she is self-taught, learning through trial and error. That early Santa Ana influence, though, is still seen in some of her designs.

Since 1980 Gladys has specialized in traditional polychrome jars and bowls. She uses Laguna's gray clay to form her vessels and various minerals and local plants to make her slips and paints. Gladys has passed what she's learned on to her students, among them Max Early, Myron Sarracino and her son, Andrew Padilla, Jr.

Gladys began participating in juried competitions in the early 1980's and her first award was a 1st Place ribbon at the Santa Monica (CA) Art Show in 1984. Then in 1986 she took the Best in Division-Pottery and 1st Place-Traditional Pottery ribbons at the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market. In 1987 she took 2nd Place ribbons at both Santa Monica and Santa Fe.

Gladys has also participated in (and earned ribbons at) the Okmulgee Indian Market (OK), Twin Cities Indian Market (MN), Heard Museum Guild Indian Market (AZ) and the Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market (IN). In 1993 she earned another 1st Place ribbon and the "Indian Art Fund Award for Best of Traditional Crafts" at the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market.

Gladys tells us she likes to make large pots and decorate them with her favorite design: the rainbird. She's developed a new rainbird design, too, and sometimes mixes the new and the old on the same pot. When we asked her where she gets her inspiration she replied "I live my life for the Lord but I want to also carry on the tradition of my people making pottery." As she didn't come from a lineage of potters she says the Lord helped her feel free to develop new designs based somewhat on the old.

Rick Dillingham was the first trader to buy her pots and early in her career he took her to the School for Advanced Research (in Santa Fe) and showed her the designs on many of the old Laguna pots in their collection. Since then, between her prayers and her practice she has made many of those designs her own.

Gladys usually signed her pots: "SRATyu'we G. Paquin-SNZ Laguna". She passed on in December, 2020.

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Laguna Pueblo

After the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, many Puebloans were fearful of Spanish reprisals. Spanish militias returned in 1681 and again in 1689. That first return brought them as far north as Isleta and that pueblo was attacked, looted and burned. The second return saw troops marching up to Santa Ana and San Felipe, attacking, looting and burning both. In those years, when the Puebloans became aware of approaching Spanish forces they mostly scattered into the mountains and the Spanish found empty pueblos, easy to loot and easy to burn. When Don Diego de Vargas marched north in 1692, he was intent on reconquering Nuevo Mexico and re-establishing a long-term Spanish presence there. As the conquistadors who accompanied him were on a "do-or-die" mission, the reconquest took on a tenor quite different from the previous missions...

At first de Vargas followed a path of reconciliation with the pueblos but that was soon replaced with an iron fist that brought on a second revolt in 1696. The pueblos didn't fare so well the second time around and a large number of Pueblo warriors were executed while their wives and children were forced into slavery. When word of de Vargas actions got back to the King of Spain, he ordered de Vargas banned from the New World. However, most of the damage was already done.

Many modern historians say Laguna Pueblo was established between 1697 and 1699 by refugees seeking to avoid fighting with the Spanish. Many of those refugees had left the first pueblos approached by the Spanish in 1692. They had first scattered to more remote places like Acoma, Zuni and Hopi, or to more Spanish-friendly Isleta. However, the pressure of those refugees strained the resources of the other pueblos and quickly forced the refugees to consider starting a new existence in a newly-formed pueblo. The area of Laguna had been settled several hundred years previously by ancestors of today's tribe but had been abandoned during the periods of great drought that had brought the Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi) down from the Four Corners area to the areas where we now find the Rio Grande Pueblos. Some of the land under Laguna control has also been found to contain archaeological resources dating as far back as 3,000 BC. The prehistoric village of Pottery Mound is located just east of today's Laguna Pueblo boundary. Pottery Mound was abandoned long before the Spanish first arrived but archaeologists have followed the tracks left by Pottery Mound styles, shapes and designs to settlements in the Hopi mesas and the Four Corners area.

Over time, several villages were established in the area around Old Laguna and when the Lagunas were granted their own reservation, they were given about 500,000 acres of land, making Laguna one of the largest of all pueblos in terms of land. However, only about half the enrolled members of the tribe live at Laguna as many have been drawn to nearby Albuquerque in search of work.

Laguna and Acoma share the same language (Western Keresan), similar pottery styles and similar religious beliefs. However, pottery making almost died out at Laguna after the railroads arrived in New Mexico in 1880 and laid a primary east-west trackbed directly in front of the Laguna main pueblo. During that time period many Lagunas went to work on railroad construction crews and many of the traditional Laguna arts and crafts died out. Potterymaking never completely stopped at Laguna but by 1960 it was almost gone. Then in 1973 and again in 1974 Nancy Winslow taught two four-month arts and crafts classes at the pueblo. Among the 22 pueblo members in the first class were Evelyn Cheromiah and her daughters. Rick Dillingham quoted Evelyn Cheromiah as saying that after "looking at my mother's pottery-making tools, I got the urge of going back to making pottery." That was the beginning of today's renaissance in Laguna pottery.

Because of their geographic proximity, Laguna and Acoma clays are very similar. In some instances, it's very hard to determine if a particular pot is from Acoma or from Laguna. Laguna potters are more likely to temper their white clay with sand than with ground up pot shards like the Acomas do. Laguna geometric designs also tend to be bolder than Acoma designs while Laguna potters use Mimbres designs much more sparingly than do Acoma potters.

Location map of Laguna Pueblo

For more info:
at Wikipedia
official website

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - - All Rights Reserved