“Santo Domingo jewelry” and “Kewa Pueblo jewelry” are interchangeable terms. Both refer to the beautiful and cleanly cut Native American jewelry made by the Pueblo peoples on a specific reservation in New Mexico called Kewa Pueblo. “Santo Domingo jewelry” is jewelry from Kewa Pueblo, which used to be called Santo Domingo Pueblo until a name change in 2009.
There are 19 different Pueblo reservations in New Mexico, but Native American jewelry from the Kewa Pueblo is among the most highly sought after because of the location’s . . .
- High quality resources
- Long trading history
- Strong cultural preservation
Characteristics of Santo Domingo Jewelry
Santo Domingo artists have a long history of stonework and are as proficient in beads as they are with slabs. The pueblo is famous for Native American turquoise jewelry, especially turquoise necklaces, the beads of which can be finely cut to hair strand lengths if so desired. Mosaic inlaid pieces are another traditional form of Santo Domingo jewelry, often featuring turquoise on a shell base.
Other popular types of Santo Domingo jewelry include:
- Shell (heishi) necklaces
- Thunderbird necklaces
- Santo Domingo Depression-era jewelry
Santo Domingo Depression Jewelry
A popular subset of Santo Domingo jewelry is “Depression jewelry”. That is to say, Santo Domingo jewelry made during the Great Depression when materials were scarce. Depression jewelry uses cheaper materials, but its raw character and sheer ingenuity can fetch high prices on the market.
Santo Domingo Depression jewelry can be made from:
- Car batteries
- Dinner plates fragments
- Hair combs
- Vinyl records
The People of Kewa Pueblo
The people of Kewa Pueblo embrace their ancestry and carry on their culture to this day. Many residents of the Santo Domingo Pueblo are artists who earn a living through everything from jewelry-making and beadwork, to silversmithing and pottery. More than 80% of Santo Domingo’s children know the native language of Keresan, further ensuring that there will be another generation of Native American jewelry with a real cultural link to the Kewa Pueblo.
Santo Domingo Artists
Home & Away Gallery proudly collaborates with the following talented Santo Domingo artists:
- Harvey Abeyta
- Athea Cajero
- (Contemporary Santo Domingo jewelry, not traditional)
- Priscilla Nieto
- Mary Tafoya
- Deanna Tenorio
- Depression era Thunderbird necklaces, and more
Geographic Origins of Kewa Pueblo Jewelry
Located 34 miles southwest of Santa Fe, the Kewa Pueblo has always enjoyed a distinct geographic advantage over neighboring tribes when it comes to jewelry-making thanks to its proximity to the Cerrillos mine region, which has provided a steady supply of natural and chalk turquoise to Pueblo peoples (and their prehistoric ancestors, the Anasazi) for roughly 6 thousand years.
An abundance of valuable gemstone has guided the pueblo through an impressive trading history. The Kewa Pueblo has always traded Zuni, Hopi and other nearby pueblos frequently. Traditional trade routes once extended all the way to the West Coast to acquire shells. In modern times, the pueblo further benefits from tourism trade brought on by the nearby Santa Fe Railway and Interstate 25 Highway.
History of The Santo Domingo Thunderbird Necklace
Many websites claim the Thunderbird necklace originated from the Santo Domingo. This connection, while possible, is somewhat tenuous . . .
On page 65 of Fred Harvey Jewelry, 1900 – 1955, author Dennis June claims that Herman Schweizer, a buyer for the Native American jewelry company Fred Harvey, put thunderbird jewelry into production after he came across the thunderbird on a petroglyph during “one of his many southwest excursions”. The thunderbird image was subsequently copyrighted by the company in 1909.
Thus, while the revival of the thunderbird image in necklaces was an Anglo movement (assuming Dennis June is correct), it could be argued that Native Americans have not only reclaimed the image in recent years but have since made it into one of their signature symbols, restoring a sacred order.
Find Santo Domingo Jewelry at Home & Away Gallery
Home & Away Gallery has an excellent selection of Santo Domingo jewelry for sale from popular Native American artists of the Kewa Pueblo. Browse our collection of Santo Domingo Depression-era jewelry, mosaic jewelry, bracelets, necklaces (thunderbird, heishi, etc.), earrings, and, of course, Santo Domingo turquoise jewelry. We are sure that we have a beautiful piece of Kewa Pueblo jewelry for you.
To connect with the history of the Kewa Pueblo is to connect with the jewelry itself. If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment to see our Kewa Pueblo jewelry in person, please call Home & Away Gallery owner David Shultz at (207) 423-8473.