Published on November 11, 2010 by John
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Dextra Quotskuyva (born September 7, 1928) is a Native American potter and artist. She is the great-granddaughter of the Tewa potter Nampeyo (1860–1942) of Hano who revived Sikyátki style pottery on Hopi First Mesa. She was born to Rachel and Emerson Namingha in the village of Polacca, Arizona, United States, located at the base of Hopi First Mesa.
Coming from a family of fine potters, Dextra began making pottery in 1967 under her mother’s guidance and has been doing so ever since. She likes to experiment with different forms and designs on her pieces and makes each one unique. She is known for her novel decorations and often combines the traditional with contemporary. Some of her designs are hereditary, going back as far as Nampeyo in the late 19th century.
Dextra places a lot of importance on using traditional methods in her work. She gathers her own clay and uses traditional tools: such as gourds to shape the pots, sandstone to smooth and river pebbles to polish the clay. Some of the polishing stones she uses have been passed down through the family. She uses sheep dung for fuel in the firing process, and is one of the last potters to make her own puki. A puki is a small dish used to hold the first few coils of the pot. This dish allows the potter to rotate the pot as construction continues.
In addition to studying the work of her great-grandmother Nampeyo, she received much inspiration from old Sikyatki pots seen in museums and photographs. Sikyatki is the name of the ruins, located on the First Mesa of the Hopi reservation that was excavated by the archaeologist Jesse Walter Fewkes in 1896. These excavations recovered 16th and 17th century pottery, which influenced Nampeyo and initiated the revival of traditional Hopi pottery techniques and designs.
Dextra also taught her two nephews Steve Lucas and Les Namingha how to make pottery. Both have become exceptional, award-winning potters.
In 1995 Dextra Quotskuyva was proclaimed an “Arizona Living Treasure” and in 1998 she received the first Arizona State Museum Lifetime Achievement Award. Today she has become one of the best known descendants of the matriarch Nampeyo of Hano.