Anderson Peynetsa

Anderson Peynetsa of Zuni Pueblo

Anderson Peynetsa was born to Charles and Wilma Peynetsa of Zuni Pueblo in 1964. Like his sisters Agnes and Priscilla, Anderson learned to make pottery the traditional way when he took Jennie Laate's class at Zuni High School (he actually got into the class while in 8th grade). He became one of Jennie's star students and he's been making pottery ever since, participating in shows at the Tucson Fine Arts Museum, Eight Northern Pueblos Arts and Crafts Show at Ohkay Owingeh (NM), the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Zuni Show at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff and at the Santa Fe Indian Market.

Anderson's favorite styles are the water jar and the duck pot (with owl and parrot variations). His pottery sizes vary from just a few inches high and in diameter to 18" tall and 16" across. His favorite designs to paint are his signature "Walking Deer with Heart Line" design, traditional Zuni patterns and other geometric designs. He told us he gets his inspiration from seeing what others are doing in the art, pottery and jewelry worlds at Zuni Pueblo.

Anderson also says he was inspired by Jennie Laate to help rebuild the legacy of pottery making at Zuni Pueblo and he's always surprised at the impact he has had on the pueblo. And he always recommends learning to make pottery the traditional way, especially for the meditational and healing aspects of the process.

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
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Zuni Pueblo

A view of the Zuni Pueblo Welcome sign
Welcome sign at Zuni Pueblo

Archaeologists have dated some sites on the Zuni Reservation back to the Paleo-Indian Period, more than 4,500 years ago. During the Archaic Period (2,500 BC to 0 AD), the forebears of the Zuni were hunter-gatherers and just beginning to develop agriculture. The Basketmaker Period (0 AD to 700 AD) saw agriculture become more developed and the Zunis were making their first pottery. The Pueblo I Period (700 AD to 1100 AD) saw an expansion of the population and larger settlements were built in the Zuni River area along with the development of the first painted Zuni pottery.

The Pueblo III Period (from 1100 to 1300 AD) saw further population growth in the Zuni River area and a shift from small houses to larger, plaza-oriented villages. The Pueblo IV Period (1300 to 1500 AD) was the time of the great drought and migrations as many tribal groups abandoned the Four Corners area and moved to locations near the Rio Grande, Rio Puerco, Zuni River and Little Colorado River. The main Zuni Pueblo was founded during this time but there were several other large villages in the area, too.

In 1540 there was a major battle fought between the Zunis and the forces of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. Coronado first approached the pueblo at the end of a four-day religious festival. The Zunis had spilled a line of corn meal across the ground before the entrance to the pueblo, meant to signify to the Spanish that they shouldn't cross the line yet. Coronado interpreted that line of corn meal as an act of war and immediately ordered his soldiers to attack.

Coronado was almost killed in the fighting but his soldiers did finally win the battle. As Coronado and his men brought horses and sheep with them, they were probably the first such livestock the Zunis had ever seen. The gold the Spaniards were looking for: it turned out to be Sikyatki Polychrome bowls and jars, yellow clay gifts from the Hopis to the Zunis.

The Zunis did equip Coronado with a guide from the eastern Plains, someone who'd somehow made his way as a lone traveler to Hawikku. That refugee was supposed to be a guide for Coronado and his men but he was instructed by the Zunis to take Coronado into the Plains and get him lost there. When Coronado finally realized that, more than a year later, he ordered the guide executed, then turned his men around and headed back to Zuni and Mexico.

When he passed by Zuni in 1542, he left three Mexican Indians behind with the tribe. They most likely informed the tribal leaders of the extent of the Spanish domain in Mexico and the power they exercised there.

Except for a couple passing exploratory expeditions, they were left alone until the 1620s. Then came the friars who oversaw the construction of a mission church at Hawikku in 1629. At first the Zunis were friendly with the priests but with the forced labor requirements and forced religious conversions, the priests wore that welcome out quickly. Relations had changed drastically for the worse by the time of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. The Zunis killed the priests and burned the missions but they preserved the relics and icons the priests had brought from Spain.

The tribe built a village near their fortress at Dowa Yalanne and prepared to defend their people and way of life against the Spanish army. When Don Diego de Vargas arrived with troops in 1692, he attacked the fortress twice and failed. Then he negotiated with the Zuni war chief and was allowed to ascend to the top of Dowa Yalanne. He found many relics from the destroyed missions there. With that knowledge, he arranged a peace between the Spanish and the tribe. Between 1693 and 1700 the tribe consolidated all their small villages into what is now the Pueblo of Zuni.

The railroads arrived in New Mexico in the 1880s and right behind them came the first Anglo traders. Over the next 50 years Zuni pottery turned more and more to what the traders wanted. With the push into mass production, the quality fell off. The end result was the value of Zuni pottery fell way off and the potters tired of what they were doing. Pottery making dropped off in the 1940s until only ceremonial vessels were being made. Catalina Zunie was teaching pottery making at the Zuni Day School through this time period but the Zuni pottery revival didn't really begin until Daisy Hooee began teaching pottery making at Zuni High School in the 1960s and 1970s.

An accomplished Hopi-Tewa potter with an excellent pedigree, Daisy applied herself to learning about Zuni pottery and became a consummate Zuni potter. She retired from teaching at the high school in 1974. Jennie Laate, an Acoma woman who married into Zuni and learned the Zuni way from Daisy Hooee, took over teaching the classes. Many of today's well known Zuni potters thank Jennie Laate for her teaching and inspiration. She taught until 1990 when she turned the classes over to her student, Noreen Simplicio. Noreen taught the classes for 2 years, then Gabriel Paloma took over.

Josephine Nahohai brought traditional Zuni pottery designs back into the community in the 1980s. Les Namingha has also recently been using more traditional Zuni shapes and designs in his Zuni revival pottery. Today, because so many Zuni potters learned their craft at Zuni High School, they mostly also use electric kilns for firing their works. Other than that, they all use the same traditional methods of gathering and processing the clay, making their pottery and painting their designs, traditional processes that are practiced in virtually the same way in all the pueblos.

Zuni Pueblo location map
For more info:
at Wikipedia
official website
Photo courtesy of Ken Lund, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 2.0 Generic

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


Asmallpolychromeduckfiguredecoratedwithabandofdeer-with-heart-lineandgeometricdesign, Click or tap to see a larger version
See a larger version

Anderson Peynetsa, Zuni, Asmallpolychromeduckfiguredecoratedwithabandofdeer-with-heart-lineandgeometricdesign
Anderson Peynetsa
A small polychrome duck figure decorated with a band of deer-with-heart-line and geometric design
5.5 in L by 3.5 in W by 6.5 in H
Condition: Excellent
Signature: A. Peynetsa Zuni, N.M.
Date Created: 2024

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

Zuni Teaching Tree

Disclaimer: This "teaching tree" is a best effort on our part to determine who the potters are in this group and arrange them in a generational order.

The pottery tradition at Zuni almost died out until Daisy Hooee (granddaughter of Nampeyo of Hano, Hopi-Tewa) took on the job of teaching pottery at Zuni High School in 1960. She was recruited for the job by Catalina Zunie, a Zuni potter who had spent several years just trying to get pottery on the school curriculum. Daisy also spent a year working with Catalina to become a consummate Zuni potter herself before she started teaching.

There have been several teachers at Zuni High since then and for some students, learning from their parents (who were former Zuni High students) has helped to strengthen the tradition. This diagram is subject to change should we get better info.

    Daisy Hooee Nampeyo taught 1960-1974
    • Shirley Benn
    Jennie Laate taught 1974-1990
    • Carlos Laate
    • Gabriel Paloma
    • Agnes Peynetsa
    • Anderson Peynetsa & Avelia Peynetsa
      • Anderson Jamie Peynetsa
      • Dominic Laweka
    • Priscilla Peynetsa & Daryl Westika
      • Gaylon Westika
    • Paula Quam
    • Brian Tsethlikai and Yvonne Nashboo
Noreen Simplicio - learned from Jennie Laate, taught 1990-1992
Gabriel Paloma - learned from Jennie Laate, took over class from Noreen Simplicio in 1992

Some of the above info is drawn from Southern Pueblo Pottery, 2000 Artist Biographies, by Gregory Schaaf, © 2002, Center for Indigenous Arts & Studies

Other info is derived from personal contacts with family members and through interminable searches of the Internet and cross-examination of the data found.

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