Pueblo: Hopi Pueblo
“I am a member of the Hopi Tribe. I was born and raised in Snowbird Canyon, Arizona. Since I am part of the Bear Clan (Mother – Bear Clan) I sign my pottery with a Bear Claw. I first started making pottery around the age of 6 years old. Most of my teachings came from great potters such as my mother Pauline Setalla, and my Aunt Eunice “Fawn” Navasie, who was a well-known Hopi potter.
At first, it was difficult to complete a piece of pottery. However, through many years of practice and patience, I must admit, I have progressed a great deal. I now do pottery full-time. I would like to thank my teachers for their time and patience. My pottery is known for its thin walls and high polish. I enjoy doing traditional designs such as birds, moths or butterflies, bear claws, clouds and rain (Father – Water Clan) designs.
The gray clay that I mold my pottery with is dug up near my house on the Hopi reservation. Once the clay is prepared it is hand coiled. Coiling is the ancient way that Hopi’s still make pottery. Paint for the pottery comes from local plants which are picked by the handfuls in the spring then boiled in a large tub of water until they condense into a black substance. Pottery is painted with a paint brush which comes from a yucca stem. The ends are chewed and trimmed to various sizes. The designs are painted freehand. The pottery is eventually transferred outdoors to be fired with sheep dung.
My art is the contribution of a thousand years of Hopi art and cultural expression. When working with the clay, it’s like you’re bringing it to life. You must treat it with respect. You treat it like you are raising a child, and guide it through the growing stages. It’s not just steps out of tradition, but a personal nurturing as well. You must be very grateful for the clay and pottery. I pray each morning with cornmeal. When we dig clay, we leave food there. You can’t be greedy and not leave anything.
Pottery in the younger Hopi generations is slowly fading out. I would like to devote my time to teaching this generation the art of pottery, and what it means to me. Being a mentor would play an important role for me.”
Dee has shown and won ribbons at various venues including Santa Fe Indian Market and Museum of Northern Arizona. In 2011, The Setalla family was inducted into the Keepers Hall of Fame at the Kierland Resort in Scottsdale.