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Martinez, Maria Montoyalocked

(1885–20 July 1980)
  • Daniel Grant

Extract

Martinez, Maria Montoya (1885–20 July 1980), potter, was born Maria Montoya on the San Ildefonso Pueblo in the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico (approximately twenty-five miles northwest of Santa Fe), the third of five daughters of Tomas Montoya, a farmer, and Reyes Pena Montoya. No birth certificate exists for any of the Montoya daughters, and accounts of Maria's life list her birth variously from 1881 to 1887. The first official record of her life is that of an 1887 baptism. Maria might have been an infant at the time, but in an interview in the 1970s (Peterson, p. 73) she recalled the baptism, which if true would suggest that she was older. She chose 5 April as the day on which to celebrate her birthday. She is often referred to by her first name alone, occasionally Maria Poveka, which means Pond Lily in the Tewa language. Life in the pueblo revolved around subsistence farming and pottery, which was in decline as less expensive, mass-produced ceramic ware gained popularity. The population of the San Ildefonso Pueblo declined by about half during Maria's childhood, from 150 to 80, as many of the young people in this Tewa Indian tribe left their ancestral homes for jobs in the cities....

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