Franklin Peters


Acoma
Franklin Peters
 

Franklin Peters entered this world in May of 1978, son of potter Ella Peters (Vallo). He learned the basics of the traditional methods at an early age by watching and working with his mother. He still counts his mother as his greatest inspiration but he also early on received inspiration and instruction from his aunt, Phyllis Juanico. He's been producing pots for more than 20 years and has participated in shows at Santa Fe Indian Market and at the Heard Museum in Phoenix.

In 2011 Franklin was selected as the Rollin and Mary Ella King Native Artist Fellow at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe. He spent that fellowship studying the Research Center’s pottery collections to better understand the techniques and processes used by his ancestors. He is also interested in exploring more contemporary designs, advancing his own sense of style, increasing the size of his ollas and incorporating more historical designs into his work.

He says it usually takes him about 1 1/2-weeks to complete an 11-inch pot. Peters’ designs originate with the traditions of his clan – the Sky Clan. The thin, fine lines usually found on his pottery symbolize rain. "They’re more or less praying for rain," he said of his pots. "As a member of the Sky Clan, that’s what we pray for all the time."

Today, he still uses the pigment stones and scraping gourds his mother gave him. His sisters Rose Histia Vallo and Katrina Lewis Vallo also make pottery but he is the only male in his clan to do so. He wants the world to realize the Acoma pottery tradition continues, partly through his own efforts to replicate traditional styles and designs and through his efforts to educate younger members of his family in the traditional ways.

We recently learned that Franklin will be demonstrating his pottery making techniques at the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market in Phoenix, AZ, March 5 & 6, 2016.


100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - www.andreafisherpottery.com - All Rights Reserved

 
 

Acoma Pueblo

Acoma from the air
Sky City

According to Acoma oral history, the sacred twins led their ancestors to "Ako," a magical mesa composed mostly of white rock, and instructed those ancestors to make that mesa their home. Acoma Pueblo is called "Sky City" because of its position atop the mesa.

Acoma, Old Oraibi (at Hopi) and Taos all lay claim to being the oldest continuously inhabited community in the U.S. Those competing claims are hard to settle as each village can point to archaeological remnants close by to substantiate each village's claim. Acoma is located about 60 miles west of Albuquerque.

While the people of Acoma have an oral tradition that says they've been living in the same area for more than 2,000 years, archaeologists feel more that the present pueblo was established near the end of the major migrations in the 1300's. The location is essentially on the boundary between the Mogollon (Mimbres), Hohokam (Salado) and Anasazi (Ancestral Pueblo) cultures. Each of those cultures has had an impact on the styles and designs of Acoma pottery, especially since modern potters have been getting the inspiration for many of their designs from pot shards they have found while walking on pueblo lands.

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado ascended the cliff to visit Acoma in 1540. He afterward wrote that he "repented having gone up to the place." But the Spanish came back later and kept coming back. Around In 1598 relations between the Spanish and the Acoma took a really bad turn with the arrival of Don Juan de Onate and the soldiers, settlers and Franciscan monks that accompanied him. After ascending to the mesa top, Onate decided to force the Acomas to swear loyalty to the King of Spain and to the Pope. When the Acomas realized what the Spanish meant by that, a group of Acoma warriors attacked a group of Spanish soldiers and killed 11 of them, including one of Onate's nephews. Don Juan de Onate retaliated by attacking the pueblo, burning most of it and killing more than 600 people. Another 500 people were imprisoned by the Spanish, males between the ages of 12 and 25 were sold into slavery and 24 men over the age of 25 had their right foot amputated. Many of the women over the age of 12 were also forced into slavery and were parceled out among Catholic convents in Mexico City. Two Hopi men were also captured at Acoma and, after having one hand cut off, they were released and sent home to spread the word about Spain's resolve to subjugate the inhabitants of Nuevo Mexico (while Spanish monks did make the almost fruitless trip, Spanish military never did make an appearance in Hopiland).

When word of the massacre (and the punishments meted out after) got back to King Philip in Spain, he banished Don Juan de Onate from Nuevo Mexico. Some Acomas had escaped that fateful Spanish attack and returned to the mesa top in 1599 to begin rebuilding.

In 1620 a Royal Decree was issued which established civil offices in each pueblo and Acoma had its first governor appointed. By 1680, the situation between the pueblos and the Spanish had deteriorated again to the point where the Acomas were extremely willing participants in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt.

After the successful Pueblo Revolt and the Spanish had retreated back to Mexico, refugees from other pueblos began to arrive at Acoma, fearing the eventual Spanish return and probable reprisals. That strained the resources of Acoma until the Spanish returned and residents of the pueblo had to make a hard decision. Many of the refugees chose to try a peaceful solution: they relocated to the ancient Laguna area and made peace with the Spanish as soon as they reappeared in the region.

Over the next 200 years, Acoma suffered from breakouts of smallpox and other European diseases to which they had no immunity. At times they would side with the Spanish against nomadic raiders from the Ute, Apache and Comanche tribes. Eventually New Mexico changed hands, then the railroads arrived and Acoma became dependent on goods made in the outside world.

For many years the villagers were content on the mesa. Now most live in villages on the valley floor where water, electricity and other necessities are easily available while a few families still make their permanent home on the mesa top. The old pueblo is used almost exclusively these days for ceremonial celebrations.

Acoma's dense, slate-like clay, allows the pottery to be thin, lightweight and durable. After the pot is formed, it is painted with a slip of white clay. Black and red design motifs are added using mineral and plant derived paints. Fine lines, geometrics, parrots and old Mimbres designs are commonly seen motifs. The traditional paintbrush for Acoma potters is made from the yucca plant.

Historically Acoma was known for large, thin-walled "ollas," jars used for storing food and water. With the arrival of the railroad and tourists in the 1880's, Acoma potters adapted the size, shapes and styles of their pots in order to appeal to the new buyers.

Acoma Pueblo is home to noted potters of the Lewis and Chino families, as well as many others. Acoma potters felt it was an inappropriate display of ego to put their signature on a pot up into the mid-1960's. The 1960's is also a time when the primary white clay vein mined by the Acomas passed through a layer of widely distributed impurities, impurities that passed through the pottery making process and appeared only in the firing. Or worse yet, sometimes well after firing. The clay problem was so bad it affected virtually every potter in the pueblo and every pot they made. So many pots spalled that even the best potters sold them anyway, often signed. Thankfully, by the late 1960's they had dug through that layer of clay and into a deeper layer that didn't have the problem.

Acoma Pueblo c. 1923

Acoma Pueblo c. 1932

Map showing location of Acoma Pueblo

For more info:
at Wikipedia
official website
Pueblos of the Rio Grande, Daniel Gibson, ISBN-13:978-1-887896-26-9, Rio Nuevo Publishers, 2001
Upper photo courtesy of Marshall Henrie, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - www.andreafisherpottery.com - All Rights Reserved

 
Polychromejarwithpiecrustrimandgeometricdesign, Click or tap to see a larger version
See a larger version


Franklin Peters, Acoma, Polychromejarwithpiecrustrimandgeometricdesign
Franklin Peters
Acoma
$ 775
xxacf9201
Polychrome jar with pie crust rim and geometric design
7 1/4 in H by 8 1/4 in Dia
Condition: Excellent
Signature: Franklin Peters Huwaka Acoma, NM
Date Created: 2019

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - www.andreafisherpottery.com - All Rights Reserved