Monday, December 29, 2008

Top 13 Native American Art Events in early 2009

Native Trails: A Celebration of Native American Culture through song, dance, art and food. Scottsdale, (AZ) Civic Center Mall,

January 15 – April 11, 2009

Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market – Heard Museum, Phoenix (AZ),

March 7 – 8, 2009,

Annual Navajo Weaving Show – Old Territorial Indian Arts, Scottsdale (AZ),

March 5-6-7, 2009,


Native American Art Festival – Litchfield Park (AZ),

January 10-11, 2009

Colorado Indian Market – Merchandise Mart, Denver (CO),

January 23-25, 2009

Texas Indian Market – Arlington Convention Center, Arlington (TX),

April 3-5, 2009,

World Championship Hoop Dance Contest – Heard Museum, Phoenix (AZ)

February 7-8, 2009,

Tribal & Textile Arts Show – Fort Mason Center, San Francisco (CA),

February 13-15, 2009

Sa’heh’wa’mish Days – Little Creek Casino Resort, Shelton (WA),

February 20-21, 2009,

Marin Indian Art Show – Marin Civic Center, San Rafael (CA),

February 21-22, 2009,

Southwest Indian Art Fair – Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona,Tucson (AZ),

February 21-22, 2009,

Native Treasures Indian Arts Festival – Santa Fe Convention Center, Santa Fe (NM),

May 23-24, 2009,

Tulsa Indian Art Festival – SpiritBank Event Center, Tulsa (OK),

February 13, 14, 15, 2009,


Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Welcome Letter From Washington, D.C.

While the letter, from the Federal Trade Commission, U. S. Department of the Interior, was addressed to "Dear Sir or Madam," we considered the letter quite formal. We also considered it good news.

It announced that the FTC is working with Indian Arts and Crafts Board to enforce provisions of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act.

We received the letter because the FTC found our web sites – all four of them apparently – on the Internet. That’s good news.

The letter was to remind us – and others we presume – that items offered for sale as American Indian-made or Alaska Native-made must have been made in fact, by Native American Indians or Alaskan Natives.

The letter goes on to state, “…it is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced , an Indian product or the product of a particular Indian tribe. Under the Act, Indian is defined as a member of a federally or officially State recognized Tribe, or as a formally certified non-member Indian artisan of the federally or officially State recognized Tribe of their descent.”

The Federal Trade Commission Act also prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce.” Enforcement actions have been brought against “persons and businesses selling art works through false representations about artists, about authenticity of the works, or about the investment attributes of the art work.”

We applaud this newly aggressive approach to protecting buyers and discouraging fraudulent sellers. As dealers who always have refused to sell items that we cannot verify as Indian or Alaskan made without specifying that they are NOT Native-made, we are happy to see the Feds actively doing their duty.

An environment in which buyers and collectors can trust that the people who sell to them are telling the truth and promising the reality about art as an investment is good for everyone.

That being true, it is also true that frauds and charlatans will continue to try to cheat the law and their customers. It is up to all of us to call them out. If you purchase an item under what you consider to have been false premises, let the seller know. It may simply be a mistake. If it is, any legitimate dealer will refund your money, and relabel the item correctly.

If you see this behavior repeated, however, please contact the FTC so that the perpetrators may be prosecuted, and their fraudulent activities ended.

More information about the Indian Arts and Crafts Act can be obtained at The website also has a down-loadable brochure guide, “How to Buy Genuine American Indian Arts and Crafts.


This message is brought to you by Aboriginals: Art of the First Person, with web sites at Native-JewelryLink, Native-PotteryLink, TribalWorks and ZuniLink, where you can trust that you are buying the real thing.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Vintage Seminole doll collection in Seminole basket

We have long carried Seminole dolls on our web site at Slowly that collection has wound down to a handful. All are fewer than 20 years old.

Recently, a collection of smaller, hand-made Seminole dolls came into our possession. The source we acquired them from, John Isaacs of Albuquerque, was unable to be precise about the dates of origin, but he felt they were rather old. We agree. Probably done in the 1980s. While not antique, that's a respectable age for this kind of object.

Actually, we should say, "these kinds" of objects, since there are seven of them. They range in size from 3" high to 8" high. The bonus is that they came into our house in a Seminole sweetgrass basket, with doll's head attached to the lid.

We acquired the set, a sort of seven sisters of the swamp, for our personal collection. Since almost everything we offer to other collectors was originally purchased for our collection, it would not be out of character to offer this charming sisterhood to another buyer.

We have priced the set at $325. But ask us about it if you are interested. We might have some wiggle room in there.


All the best of the holiday season to you and all those you love, from William Ernest Waites, Susanne Waites and our web site friends at ZuniLink, Native-JewelryLink and Native-PotteryLink.

May peace descend on your home and family with each setting sun.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Wilson Romero Cochiti carved Nativity Set

How fitting is this for the season?

We just received a newly carved Nativity set from Cochiti Pueblo carver, Wilson Romero.

We have carried Wilson's Nativity Sets and other carvings for years.

He and his wife, Annette, are two of our favorite artists. We are regular visitors to their home on Cochiti Pueblo, where they are very gracious hosts.

This new set is some of his best work.12 pieces are included: Mary, Joseph, Jesus in the crib, three wise men, a buffalo, horse, bear, ram, camel and mountain lion.

We have just posted it to the web site at $660. If you purchase it this Christmas season and mention seeing it on the blog, you can put in your home for just $550 plus shipping (and tax, if you are a Florida resident) a $110 saving.

Thank you for your support this year. We wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy, prosperous New Year.

William and Susanne Waites, proprietors,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Honoring All Warriors - Renninger's Mt Dora

Thundering Spirit Powwow has been scheduled for February 27, 28 and March 1, 2009 at Renninger's Twin Markets in Mt. Dora, Florida. If you have never been to Renninger's and Mt. Dora, that is a trip in itself. But this Powwow looks to be real winner. For more information, visit .

We'll be there too. Look for us. William and Susanne Waites,

Cape Coral Florida Native American Art Gathering

As collectors and dealers in Native American material culture (ZuniLink, Native-JewelryLink and Native-PotteryLink ), if Sue and I know of a Native American Indian exhibit within 50 miles of me, I will attend. This was the first time for an event in Cape Coral, Florida, last weekend. As a first time event, it was modestly impressive and successful.

The crowd grew over the course of the day - this was day one of a two-day booking. By the time I left , a couple hundred people had come by.

There were perhaps 20 booths by Native American artists. One of them hosted Rex A. Begaye, a Navajo (Dine) native. Begaye was one of, if not the primary, organizer of this show.

The roped off dance area, where Grand Entry of the artists took place accompanied by the songs and drum of a Native American group, was MC'd by Ric Bird.

The Grand Entry was followed by Native American fancy dancers.

One of the highlights was an encampment of a family of Cree Indians from Saskatchewan,

The woman explained the dances by her children while the father drummed and sang dance songs.
The setting included a traditional lodge or tipi. The mother explained that the tipi is assembled by the woman at each new encampment and is her property, as is all of the tipi's contents.

Trapped furs and bead work, some of it quite intricate, were on display, The woman was very proud of her work, her family (8 children) and her heritage.
Her explanations of life as a Plains Indian were enlightening. It's a beautiful thing and a shame more youngsters were not there to learn about this interesting subject.

This show now has closed. But the organizers say they will be back next year. They also have a show planned for Sarasota, FL after the first of the year. It's worth a little research to find it and place a hold on the day.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Eiteljorg Museum Acquires Multi-Million-Dollar Art Collection

Indianapolis - December 15, 2008

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art has announced the gift of the Helen Cox Kersting Collection of Southwestern Cultural Arts, a multi-million-dollar collection of nearly 800 objects, including the best of Southwestern pottery, jewelry and other objects. The collection will be the basis of a forthcoming book and an exhibition in 2010.

“It is difficult to overstate the significance of this collection to the field of Native American art and specifically to the Eiteljorg Museum. The Helen Cox Kersting Collection is profoundly important to both,” says John Vanausdall, president and CEO, Eiteljorg Museum. “This stunning group of objects will expand the breadth and depth of the Eiteljorg’s holdings of Southwest materials to a dramatic degree and will enrich the museum visitor’s experience for generations to come. We are grateful for Helen’s generosity, and her trust in the Eiteljorg Museum to be the steward of her life’s work and passion.”

Helen Cox Kersting and her collection:

Helen Kersting is a native of Belleville, Illinois and a graduate of the Millikin University School of Music (Decatur, Illinois) and attended the Juilliard School of Music (New York City) debuting with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein. A mezzo soprano, she went to the Cologne, Germany Opera on a four-year contract, met and married Dr. Hans Joachim Kersting and resided in Cologne until her husband’s death in 1999.

Kersting is a devoted collector of the best of Southwestern pottery, jewelry, weavings, baskets and other Native American objects. She began collecting as a child, on travels to the American West with her parents. Throughout her life, she has developed knowledge and a strong sense of connoisseurship

The Kersting jewelry collection of over 300 items includes belts, boxes, rings, bracelets, necklaces, pins, earrings, bolo ties, hair pins and cufflinks. There are pieces older than the use of artist signatures or hallmarks whose origins are still being researched. Zuni examples by master artists Leo Poblano, Leekya, John Gordon Leak and Dan Simplicio are notable. Many of these examples came originally from the historical collection of trader C. G. Wallace. Among the great jewelers represented in the collection are Charles Loloma, Carl Clark, Vernon Haskie, Denise Wallace, and many others. Elegant silver and turquoise examples abound and there are many high art pieces in silver and gold with opal, coral, diamonds, and other materials.

Kersting has been very focused in the creation of her pottery collection of nearly 400 items. A number of prehistoric coiled jars came from her parent’s acquisitions of the 1920s and 1930s, along with quite a few baskets. Historic period San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Zuni, Zia, Santo Domingo, Cochiti and Maricopa pieces ad significantly to the Eiteljorg collection. While the Eiteljorg has a few pots by Maria Martinez of San Ildefonso, the Kersting collection includes an expansive grouping of Maria’s work in different forms and colors, several with her potter son Popovi Da. Kersting has systematically collected the work of extended families of potters and the list of major pieces reads like a blue book of Southwestern potters. Included are Sarafina, Nampeyo of Hano, Paqua Najo, Gloria Kahe, Les Namingha, Rainy Naja, Dora TsePe, Mary Cain, Margaret Tafoya, Tammy Garcia, Autumn Borts, Daisy Hooey Nampeyo, Steve Lucas, Sharon Naranjo Garcia, Joy Navasie, Jacob Koopee, Helen Cordero, Virgil and Inez Ortiz, Desideria, Tonita Roybal, Susan Folwell, Grace Medicine Flower, Nathan Youngblood, Nancy Youngblood, Roxanne Swentzell, Rondina Huma, Tony Da, Jody Naranjo, Carmelita and Carlos Dunlap and many others.

Kersting, who currently lives in Arizona, says, “I have pursued my search for the final custodianship of my cherished Native American collection for a couple of years. The objects always meant very much to my late husband and me. I’d like to tell you of the extraordinary generosity of my German engineer, in whose memory I gift this collection, of his willingness to fly to the US almost every vacation, of spending large sums of money for the acquisition of things originally outside his European and even technical sphere. It is no wonder this intimacy of collecting-devotion earns a special future where it can demonstrate it character and content and be a learning tool of Native Art history for years to come. Simply, I felt and feel all of my hopes could be fulfilled by the Eiteljorg with its vigorous ‘young museum’ mentality.”

The acquisition of the Kersting collection represents a watershed moment as the Eiteljorg Museum celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2009 and looks toward the future.

Says James Nottage, Eiteljorg Museum vice president and chief curatorial officer, “What makes the Kersting collection so valuable and unique is “that it demonstrates both tradition and innovation in Southwestern native arts by providing important examples from multiple generations of individual families of artists. Through their magnificent work we gain better understanding of how their tribal cultures have survived and thrived.”

President John Vanausdall adds, “With acquisition of the Kersting Collection, the museum will devote more energy to collecting and interpreting traditional contemporary arts of Native North America. Through artist in residence programs and our annual Indian Market and Festival, we are bringing living traditions to the museum. As a result of Helen Kersting’s generosity, we can present objects that bear testimony to on-going and developing traditions.”

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art seeks to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the art, history and cultures of the American West and the indigenous peoples of North America. The museum, which opened in 1989, is located in Downtown Indianapolis’ White River State Park. For general information about the museum and to learn more about exhibits and events, call (317) 636-WEST (9378) or visit


Brought to you by Aboriginals: Art of the First Person, and websites at ZuniLink, Native-JewelryLink, and Native-PotteryLink.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

How and why Native American Nativity Sets have a place in the home and the heart.

(All the Nativity Sets featured in this article are offered at 10% discount until Christmas Day. The reduction will be removed from the listed price at the time your order is processed.)

Despite the increasing secularization of the Christmas holidays, from xmas trees to frosty snowmen to solstice promotions, one event remains at the core of Christmas celebrations.

Without the birth of the Christ child, there would be no Christmas. There could easily be a Festivus and Winter Carnivals. But would they have the deep spiritual connection with adherents that Christmas does. It’s doubtful. I find it hard to get excited about the first day of winter. How about you?

Whether you accept this premise or not, you can understand that for the faithful the power of Christmas emanates from the magic and majesty of the babe’s appearance in a humble manger that night.

Little wonder then that the Nativity scene has become such an enduring and beloved symbol of Christmas. How did it all begin? Legend has it that St. Francis conceived the idea of a manger scene to honor the birth of Christ.

Of course, depictions in art of the event go back before the 1200s, when St Francis is said to have first created a nativity scene with animals and people. That was the supposed beginning of a tableau tradition that reached out across the seas, over the centuries and among cultures to appear in Christmas celebrations around the world.

Nativities became integral parts of family celebrations and, indeed, in some ways, part of the family. Manger scenes have different names in different cultures. Creche (France), Crib (England), Krippe (Germany), Presepio (Italy), Belem (Portugal), Szopka (Poland) and Nacimento (Spanish) are among the words used to describe Nativity scenes.

The latter term migrated with the Spanish Catholic missionaries into the American Southwest in the 18th Century, where Native Americans adopting Christian beliefs picked it up. It was used alternatively with the English language word, “Nativity”, to refer to displays representing and recreating the event and place of Jesus’ birth.

This, in turn, evolved into miniature Nativity sets created by Native American artists. They feature Mary, Joseph and Jesus in the company of beasts, shepherds, wise men and, occasional angels,. These usually are formed in pottery. They take on the style and artistic tradition of the potter’s tribal background.

Andrew Rodriquez of Laguna does typically abstract presentations.

Margaret Mirabel and Juanita Martinez of Taos
do more realistic figures.

Santa Clara potters, such as Paul & Dorothy
Gutierrez, Rose Brown, Maxine Naranjo,
adhere to their distinctive clays and slips
of their pueblo.

Annette Romero of Cochiti has her own
unique style.

The potters of Jemez; Sabaquie,
Marie Toya
, Trujillo and the Fraguas,
create Nativity sets in the common
coloration and clay for which
their pueblo is known.

The Fraguas, Jay, Linda and Felicia,
step out even further, creating Nativity
sets around creatures such as bears and mice.

This is not an act of disrespect, although it may reflect the mixed reverence that Native Americans have in regard to Christianity. It is, more likely, a blending of Native beliefs in nature and a Native sense of humor about the superhuman character of Nativity stories.

In any event, they are unique smile-makers representing an event that is all about joy.

In addition to pottery sets, Native American carvers are creating Nativities from carved materials.

Wilson Romero of Cochiti creates
rough cut Nativity figures from
stone and rocks found on the
ground of his pueblo.

Zuni, Troy Sice, carves Nativity figures
from antler.

Many traditions surround Nativity set displays. Some owners add pieces as the Christmas season progresses, timing the additions to the legendary Christmas calendar. Others reserve Christmas Eve for placing the babe in the scene. Families have been known to collect Nativity sets piece by piece over a number of years. The buyer of a Native American Nativity set, however, gets the entire set in one purchase.

There are protocols associated with the display according to some experts. The typical set has a minimum of five pieces. Included are Mary, Joseph, Jesus and two more animals. The wise men make another three pieces. There can be one or more shepherds in addition to or in the place of the wise men. Sometimes the babe and cradle are one piece. Sometimes they are separate pieces. We have owned and sold Nativity sets with as many as 17 pieces, made up mostly of secondary figures, such as animals.

Positioning the members of the set generally starts with the Christ Child as the centerpiece. Closest to him is Mary, his mother. Joseph is usually placed close to the babe but on the other side from Mary. According to one source, Joseph may also be placed away from Jesus, looking in the opposite direction, representing the aspect of doubt in Christian faith. Secondary figures, such as wise men (kings) and shepherds, should be placed in concentric circles behind the Holy Family, with the shepherds closest because they were on the scene before the arrival of the Wise Men. Animals should be placed near the babe, reflecting the humbleness of his birth. Angels, if included, are usually placed above or behind he Holy Family.

Most of all, the Nativity Set is a personal celebration of the birth of Christ and a reflection of the faith and artistic appreciation of the owners. Display it in your home as you see fit.


The author, William ErnestWaites, thanks and acknowledges the following articles, which were used in researching this subject;;;;;

Please note that the links above connect to enlarged presentations of Nativity Sets by those artists.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Historical Use of Zuni Fetishes

This guest post was written by Zoe Lancaster, a writer and analyst for MBA Admission Essay Blog

With the increasing interest in Zuni crafts, particularly Zuni fetishes, perhaps it's just right to delve on the roots of these masterpieces before they became collectibles. And it's interesting to note that these historical uses of Zuni fetishes have modern followers.


Traditionally, fetishes were found items, not crafted objects. The Zuni people believed that these stones were spiritual manifestations of the animals they resembled. As such, these fetishes contained the powers and characteristics of these animals.
These fetishes were not worshiped as idols, as some early missionaries thought. In fact, these items were merely messengers to the gods and spirits. They assisted in the Zunis' communication with the divine. This can be likened to praying or meditation, wherein channels are used for clearer and more effective spiritual conversation.

Using Zuni fetishes

To begin to use fetishes, the item can be held by the hands. These can also be placed in front. Prayer and meditation
begins. The person needs to keep in mind the intrinsic qualities of the animal symbols before him or her. This is the best way to channel the fetish's most powerful qualities. As Tom Bahti, renowned anthropologist, puts it, they are used to "assist man, that most vulnerable of all living creatures, in meeting the problems that face him during his life. Each fetish contains a living power which, if treated properly and with veneration, will give its help to its owner."

Within the web of life

Among the different animal fetishes, the holiest are those that have the least relation to man. Say, for example, one has dog and snake fetishes. The snake fetish is deemed more holy because of its distance from man. The dog, on the contrary, lives with man and is therefore closer to man than the divine.
Of all animal fetishes, perhaps it is the bear, which is the most valued mediator between man and the divine. This stems from the physical attribute of the animal, as it closely resembles man. At the same time, it is distant to man, and survives life closer to the divine because of its mystery and power. Because of these two traits, tradition values the bear fetish as one of the best channels between man and the gods.

When carving fetishes began

When the tradition of carving fetishes began, this was first deemed as less powerful than found fetishes. Of these carved items, those done by people who have special wisdom of the healing and spiritual powers of fetishes were said to have greater powers.
The sizes of fetishes vary; although typically, one can find them in lengths between three and twelve inches. Each of these carved crafts is a manifestation of the animals they represent. They may have heads of humans, serpents and other animals. Its legs and arms can either be etched or carved. The body of these crafts is made of either stone, clay, shell or bones. Other materials can be used, although these are more seldom. They are made more potent by etchings and symbols on the fetish or the jars they inhabit.

Regardless of the owner's background, Zuni fetishes must be cared for and valued as they traditionally deserve.
Many Zunis and even outsiders still believe that these crafts are ways toward spiritual upliftment. These traditions should be respected, if not practiced.
Thank you to our guest blogger, Zoe Alexander, for her excellent explanation of Zuni fetish carvings and their relation to owners. William Ernest and Susanne Waites, proprietors of Here's an example of a typical crafted Zuni bear fetish carving: