Red Starr


Red Starr, (Elk), was born into the Sioux Nation in Wisconsin in 1937. He is associated with Santa Clara Pueblo since he married Harriet Tafoya and, following Pueblo tradition, moved to her home. Introduced to traditional pottery making after he came to New Mexico, he was inspired by Charles Blunt Horn (uncle), Norman Red Star (nephew), and Swift Bird (cousin) to begin making pottery in the 1970s as a worthy addition to his wood/stone carving and oil painting pursuits.

Red specializes in hand etching, also known as sgraffito, on highly polished black pots. The process begins with a hand-coiled red clay pot. A slip coat is applied and polished with a stone. Then when it's dry, the pot is completed by firing on the ground. The reduction method of pot firing is employed to turn the clay black: manure is traditionally used to create a hot intense fire that when smothered (covered with ashes) quickly burns all the oxygen out of the air and causes a chemical reaction that turns the pot black. Once the pot has cooled, the sgraffito work can begin.

Sgraffito is a form of etching that is achieved by scratching a design into the surface of a pot. The designs Red uses are representative of the Great Plains Native American medicine animal beliefs. For example, the buffalo represents abundance and the bear expresses intuitive nature. Details such as feathers, bear paws and various other elements are etched into the surface and accented with faux-turquoise stones inset after all else is done.

Red's work fascinates and is sought after by many collectors. He signs his work: "Red Starr" followed by an arrow and his census number.

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


Aminiatureblackjardecoratedwithsomeinlaidstonesandathree-panelsgraffitomedallionwithdeerandgeometricdesign, Click or tap to see a larger version
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Red Starr, NonPueblo, Aminiatureblackjardecoratedwithsomeinlaidstonesandathree-panelsgraffitomedallionwithdeerandgeometricdesign
Red Starr
A miniature black jar decorated with some inlaid stones and a three-panel sgraffito medallion with deer and geometric design
1.5 in L by 1.5 in W by 2 in H
Condition: Excellent
Signature: Red Starr Sioux 82M7-1 and his arrow hallmark

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


Most people think that miniature pottery is something new in the world of Native American pottery. In reality, archaeologists have found miniature pottery in the remains of ancient ruins in Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, across eastern Arizona, southern New Mexico and south to the Paquimé and Casas Grandes region in northern Mexico. Archaeologists working in the eastern US have found miniature pottery spread across Early Woodland Culture sites, too, dated up to 1700 years ago.

We have no idea as to why the ancients created miniature pottery but there's lots of speculation. Perhaps it was made as toys for children. Perhaps it was made by children learning to make pottery, and as their expertise grew, the size of their pieces grew, too. Perhaps it was made and placed in a firing pit as a good luck charm, hoping that other pots being fired in the pit would survive the firing process and not crack or break. Perhaps it was made for some ceremonial purpose we have no possibility of knowing. We do know that in North America, almost every pottery-making group of ancients made miniature pottery. They decorated it, too, just like the full size pottery the women of the time were making.

As the rebirth of traditionally made Native American pottery has unfolded over the last century, research into the ancient forms, styles and designs has also brought the miniature back into focus. There are more than a few potters these days making tiny gems again, similar to and, at the same time, more refined than the products of the potters of prehistory. And while some are still being made by children learning as they grow up, many more are being made by established adult potters. Some have made their entire careers around the making of miniatures while others sometimes make a few miniatures to complement the full range of forms and styles of full size pieces they make.

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

Pasqualita Tani Gutierrez Family Tree

Disclaimer: This "family tree" is a best effort on our part to determine who the potters are in this family and arrange them in a generational order. The general information available is questionable so we have tried to show each of these diagrams to living members of each family to get their input and approval, too. This diagram is subject to change should we get better info.

Pasqualita Tani Gutierrez was the sister of Sarafina Tafoya.

    Pasqualita Tani Gutierrez (1883-) & Severiano Tafoya
    • Petra Montoya (Pojoaque)(1905-) & Juan Isidro Gutierrez (Santa Clara, 1901-1977)
      • Gloria Goldenrod Garcia & John Garcia
        • Jason Okuu Pin Garcia
      • Desiderio Star Gutierrez & Genevieve Tafoya
        • Debra Duwyenie & Preston Duwyenie (Hopi)
      • Lois Gutierrez (1948-) & Derek de la Cruz
        • Juan de la Cruz
      • Thelma (1946-) & Joe (1940-) Talachy (San Juan)
      • Maria Minnie Vigil (1931-)
        • Annette Vigil
      • Virginia Gutierrez (daughter-in-law of Petra, Nambe/Pojoaque)(1940-2012)
    • Tomacita Gutierrez Tafoya (1896-1977) & Cruz Tafoya (1889-1938)
      • Cresencia Tafoya (1918-1999)
        • Annie Baca (1941-)
        • Pauline Martinez (1950-) & George Martinez (San Ildefonso) (1943-)
        • Harriet Tafoya (1949-) & Elmer Red Starr (Sioux) (1937-)
          • Ivan Red Starr (1969-1991)
          • Norman Red Star (nephew) (1955-)
    • Celestina Naranjo & Salvador Naranjo

Some of the above info is drawn from Pueblo Indian Pottery, 750 Artist Biographies, by Gregory Schaaf, © 2000, Center for Indigenous Arts & Studies. Other info is derived from personal contacts with family members and through interminable searches of the Internet.

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