Style: Sityatki Revival
Nampeyo was born around 1860 in the Tewa Village (Hano) on First Mesa. It is there where she spent most of her life until she passed away in a government issued house (that she rarely used) in Polacca, 1942. Polacca is a village at the base of the mesa named after her brother, the first resident to build a conventional home. Even though she was unable to read, write, or speak English, she became the photo symbol of the Hopi due to her desire to demonstrate her craft and pose for photographs. Photos of Nampeyo spread to the East and tourists traveling by railway would make the two day wagon trip from the railroad station to First Mesa just to see Nampeyo.
She was documented as leaving the reservation only three times in her life. Nampeyo went to the Grand Canyon in 1905 and again in 1907, and to Chicago in 1910. All three trips were to promote her work. The Grand Canyon trips were arranged by the Fred Harvey Company, and today some of the original black & gold stickers can be found on Hopi pottery stating "Made by Nampeyo, Hopi". The Fred Harvey company did not have permission to purchase directly from the reservation and had to use"middle man" trading posts until 1910. Until that time, it is said that one of the trading posts, at Ganado, would sell Fred Harvey two to three dozen pots at a time, priced at .75 cents per bowl in 1908. The demand for Nampeyo pieces was so great that Nampeyo could not keep up, family members started to help by painting vessels that she would shape.
In 1910, Nampeyo and family members traveled to Chicago, again due to arrangements made by the Fred Harvey Company and The Field Museum. Nampeyo was part of a group of Hopi and Navajo that demonstrated their crafts at The United States Land & Irrigation Exposition at an exhibit that was set up as a replica of a typical Southwestern mission. Most all of the participating Native American artisans did not speak English, except one: Nellie Nampeyo (Nampeyo's daughter) is said to have been the interpreter for the entire group.
American Indian Art Magazine
Winter 1988, Vol. 14 No. 1
American Indian Art Magazine, Vol. 1 No. 4
Autumn 1976, Vol. 1 No. 4
(Photograph inside front cover, Circa 1914)