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Nampeyo and the Sikyatki Revival : Creating a legend with Hopi ceramics Tibbel, Deborah Elizabeth


Since the closing years of the nineteenth century, the name "Nampeyo" has been synonymous with pottery produced on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. By re-introducing and re-interpreting various pre-Hispanic forms, designs, and colour schemes, Nampeyo became the icon of a new approach to ceramic production that was quickly adopted by other potters. This new style came to be known as . "Sikyatki Revival Ware", in association with archaeological excavations being conducted during the 1890s at the unihabited Hopi town of that name. As one of the first Native artists to be acknowledged by Euro-Americans, the story of Nampeyo was manipulated according to a colonial discourse which simultaneously idealized and marginalized the artistic motivations and production of colonized Others. In the case of Nampeyo, this involved a notion of Pueblo society and art as conservative, static, and incapable of independent change. This study examines such notions in relation to the history of Hopi pottery, both before and after contact with European influences, as a means of demonstrating the dynamic aspects of Pueblo ceramics. Furthermore, I argue that the story of Nampeyo, and her relationships with numerous Euro-American patrons is the product of conflicting dominant interests, with little or no regard for Native agency. Rather, as a member of a subordinate group, Nampeyo created a niche for the concept of "Native art" acceptable in both Pueblo and Euro-American terms, while working from within the constricted boundaries of colonial domination.

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