(Maria Margarita “Margaret” Tafoya, Tewa: Corn Blossom)
New Mexico, Santa Clara Pueblo, Native American Pottery
Regarded as one of the great masters of Pueblo ceramics, Margaret was the matriarch of Santa Clara Pueblo potters. She learned the art of making pottery from her parents Sara Fina Guiterrez Tafoya (1863–1949) and Jose Geronimo Tafoya (1863–1955). Like her mother, Margaret molded her pots using the traditional coiling method. Margaret continued her mother’s tradition of making exceptionally large pots, with finely polished surfaces and simple carved designs. Her “bear paw” motif and deeply carved pueblo symbols like the Avanyu (water serpent) and kiva steps around the shoulder of her jars have become signature trademarks of the Tafoya family pottery.
By the 1960s Margaret’s pottery became famous. She received the Best of Show Award in 1978 and 1979 at the Santa Fe Indian Market. In 1984, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded her a National Heritage Fellowship in recognition of her accomplishments. She was also recognized and received an award as a Master Traditional Artist in 1985 and she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts.
Margaret and her husband Alcario raised thirteen children, and many grandchildren, as well as great grandchildren, many of whom are carrying on the Tafoya family tradition of pottery making. Those actively making pottery today include: Toni Roller, Jeff Roller, LuAnn Tafoya, Chris Youngblood, Nancy Youngblood, Nathan Youngblood, Darryl Whitegeese, Ryan Roller, Cliff Roller, Tyler Roller, Jordan Roller, Serena Ebelacker, and Jamie-Lyn Ebelacker.