The Zuni people of New Mexico rightfully hold the claim to being the original and most prolific carvers of stone fetishes. Their cosmology and carving traditions go back eons, based on religious beliefs associated with their origins as a people.
Delbert Charging Crow, however, is not Zuni. He is Oglala Lakota Sioux. Yet his carvings are respected by their owners not only for their inventiveness and artistry, but also for their spiritual, protective and healing powers.
A while back, my wife Susanne and I sat with Delbert to discuss his carving, his history and his spirituality. Before we get into that discussion, let's go back to the first time we encountered Delbert's work. It was in an Albuquerque NM Old Town gallery. We were “knocked out” by the quality of the carving and the indefinable appeal the pieces had for us. Since we never acquire any art that doesn't move us personally, we immediately sensed that his carvings were calling out to us, asking us to add them to our collection and our world.
After selecting a few to take with us, we asked where we might find Delbert so that we could tell him how taken we were with his artistry. “He frequently eats at the Church Street Cafe. You might ask them?” It being lunchtime anyway, we walked over to the Cafe and, as if it was preordained, there he was sitting at a table in the front courtyard.
We introduced ourselves, told him of our recent purchases and expressed our interest in seeing him and his work again.
After that, Delbert left our radar screen. We were unable to contact him at telephone numbers he had given us. Attempts to reach him suggested that he might have returned to his homeland in South Dakota.
Two years later, we were searching for Delbert's work again. By now, the original resource was no longer carrying his carvings.. In his free-spirited way, Delbert was on the move. We received a tip that another Old Town gallery had some of his carvings available. As we visited that gallery, Delbert appeared again - out of the blue. No one had called to tell him where we were. He found us anyway, apparently guided by some unseen force.
ZuniLink.com has one of the largest and most comprehensive selections of Delbert Charging Crow fetish carvings online