San Ildefonso Pueblo
Curator Gary Roybal (San Ildefonso) is a tribal member, former Lieutenant Governor, and War Captain. After twenty-five years with the National Park Service, as a museum technician and curator at Bandelier National Monument, he retired in 2013.
Gary chose the following for the Grounded in Clay exhibit:
Santa Clara Wedding Jar
I remember when I was a little boy, around five years old, my two cousins, Walter and Michael, and I would stay with our Santa Clara grandparents during the summer season to help them with chores and to play with our friends. Mainly, we helped with such daily activities as cleaning the yard, chopping wood, and bringing firewood inside for the cooking stove and the bedrooms, along with tending the cows out in the pastures.
However, my fondest memories are of helping my grandmother Reycita Dasheno retrieve red and volcanic tuff clay from local sources to make her pottery. She made pots of different shapes and sizes, including wedding jars. We would watch her mix the clays and then mold and form her pottery pieces. After drying the pieces in the sun for several days, she would sand each one and later polish the pottery and fire it on an open pit with cow manure: it smelled awful!
In the middle of the summer months, on a certain evening, we would listen to the village crier as he stood on one of the rooftops giving out the weekly community news. On occasion, he would announce that a bus full of Anglo visitors was coming to the Pueblo. On the day of the arrival of the bus—one very similar to the old Fred Harvey buses—my two cousins and I would help my grandmother by placing a number of small and large pottery pieces in a big aluminum tub covered with a cotton cloth, and we would walk fast alongside her with the tub in hand. Once in the plaza, we would help position each pot on the cloth on the ground. As we were working, other ladies and children would do the same.
When finished, we would be among six or seven ladies with pottery laid out on the ground. Waiting for the bus to arrive, my two cousins and I would play behind our grandmother, and then we hung onto her dress as we watched the Anglo visitors go from placement to placement to look at the pots. Sometimes my grandmother Reycita would be lucky and sell one or two pieces. After we returned home, she would give each of us five or ten cents, and we would immediately run to the village store to buy soda pop or candy.
This was one of the best times of my young life. Best of all, we learned traditional Pueblo values and respect for our grandparents, and most importantly, they taught us the Tewa language at the same time.