Pueblo pottery and tourism

Nampeyo found inspiration in the old, to create a striking new style

Nampeyo (Hopi-Tewa), polychrome jar, c. 1930s, clay and pigment, 13 x 21 cm (National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution). Speakers: Dr. David Penney, Associate Director for Museum Scholarship, Exhibitions, and Public Engagement, National Museum of the American Indian and Dr. Steven Zucker

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Key points

  • In the early 20th century, indigenous artists—including Nampeyo—helped to create a market for their artwork that became a way of managing relationships between native peoples and Anglo Americans.
  • Nampeyo’s pottery, which built on Hopi-Tewa traditions, appealed to Anglo-American collectors as they sought an authentic Native American culture, partly in response to the rise of mass production in the early twentieth century.
  • The Pueblo peoples create pottery that draws on traditions passed down through individual families. Pots can be distinguished by the use of local clays and the designs that decorate them.
  • The Southwest became a popular travel destination in the early 20th century, spurred on by tour companies in partnership with the railroads that had recently expanded into this area.

Go deeper

Learn more about this pot from the National Museum of the American Indian

Who are the Pueblo people? What is the relationship between Tewa and Hopi Indians?

What was the Pueblo Revolt of 1680?

How did the development of the railroads affect Native American cultures in the American West?

How did the rise in tourism impact the work produced by Native American artists?

More to think about

What does it mean when something is considered “authentic?” Discuss how Nampeyo’s story challenges and/or contradicts notions of authenticity when applied to questions of history, identity, or cultural heritage.

Smarthistory images for teaching and learning:

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Explore the diverse history of the United States through its art. Seeing America is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Alice L. Walton Foundation.