Today’s Kewa roadside and art gallery culture has a lot to do with their strategic position prior to the colonization of the Americas by the Spaniards. The Kewa are well-known potters and jewelers.
Kewa Jewelry. Aside from their location on major travel routes, the Kewa profited, as traders, from another geographic advantage: the location of useful natural materials. The nearby Cerrillos mines have provided the Santo Domingo inhabitants with turquoise and other colorful stones since ancient times. Likewise, they collected freshwater mollusks, or clams, from the nearby river, providing them with both a source of food and shells from which they fabricated heishi (shell bead) jewelry. Like the Native Americans of other pueblos of the region the Kewa have also mastered the art of silver craft, and they set many of their colorful gems in stunning silver earrings, rings, bracelets and necklaces.
Kewa Pottery. The Kewa have retained their traditions much more than many Native American groups, and they craft their pottery using ancient techniques. They paint ancient symbols, animals of the region, geometric patterns, and culturally important plants on their beautiful pottery. Their colors, earthy reds, yellows, blacks, and whites reflect their strong relationship with the earth that sustains them.
Kewa Architecture. The Kewa Pueblo, having suffered extensive flooding twice during its recorded history, today has edifications that reflect both the Native American and Spanish cultures. Visitors will enjoy this mix of pre- and post-colonial construction as they visit the pueblo’s plaza.
Kewa Kachinas. The Kewa Kachina doll, crafted to represent beings that link the people, on earth, to the cosmic world. The Kachina bring the rain that sustains their crops, and the Kewa Indians adorn their figures with corn and other symbols of their culture. Their contact with turquoise also makes this color especially important in their representation of these sacred figures. Their other colors also have a distinct, simply crafted and earthly aire about them.
Kewa Performing Arts. Visitors to the pueblo can still observe the traditional way of life there and attend ceremonial events, such as the internationally famous corn dance held every year on August 4th, when the pueblo celebrates its patron saint, St. Domingo. Despite the obviously Catholic name long tied to the pueblo and its missionary church, the Kewa peoples have retained their traditional values that strive for balance and harmony between the pueblo, or the people, and the cosmos. They still practice traditional ceremonies and share their sacred beliefs and knowledge. Aside from its material artwork, the Kewa share their wisdom and spirituality through their publically viewed dances: the Corn Dance, the Hunting Dance, and Sandaro Clown Dance.
The Santo Domingo tribe holds an Arts and Crafts Fair in September, and their people travel nationwide participating in events where they display and market their artwork. The Kewa have retained and celebrated their lifestyle and beliefs through their tradition of trading since pre-historic times. These skills have made them famous in the modern, commercialized market while providing the world with a glimpse of their own wisdom and values.
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