Diane Bird

Santo Domingo Pueblo

Curator Diane Bird (Kewa/Santo Domingo Pueblo) is an archivist.


Tribal Affiliations:

Artwork Affiliations:

Diane chose the following for the Grounded in Clay exhibit:

Cochiti storage jar

Cochiti storage jar
c. 1870
Clay and paint
18½ x 19¾ in. (47 x 50.2 cm)
Collection Vilcek Foundation

Water Sustains All Life

Pottery and water jars are lodged in my memory and my home. The bird and plant designs on this jar impress me; they are unique, and there is just something about them that draws me in. Even by just looking at this pot, I want to welcome it, and it welcomes me in return. The jar wants to come home and be used properly.

I remember seeing water pots like this one on visits to my Santo Domingo grandma when I was a little girl. She had pottery of all kinds and shapes that she used for cooking and storage, and a few that she kept just because they were pretty. My family looked forward to visiting her and my grandfather, aunts, uncles, and cousins at her house. In her front room, my grandma had a water jar nestled in a tree-trunk tripod. My brothers and I would rush to the jar as soon as we arrived. The jar had a gourd dipper, and we would all share a drink of water. It tasted like the best water in the world! It was clear and clean, drawn from the Rio Grande.

I did not contemplate it much then, but now that I am older, I think about the practice of offering water. It is something we are all taught: any time a visitor comes to your home, make sure to give them water. Even today, when people visit, we offer them a dipper, a glass, or a bottle of water. By keeping this custom and the knowledge behind it alive, we honor the water and all our ancestors and grandmothers. The pots are more than just beautiful, and they carry more than water; they are endowed with knowledge, love, and respect.