Santo Domingo Pueblo
Santo Domingo Pueblo is a Native American Indian village located along the Rio Grande River, just south of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The village is also known as “Kewa”, the name in their native Keresan language. Kewa Pueblo is a traditional Pueblo village built in apartment style homes made of adobe bricks. The people of the village are known for their jewelry making, pottery, and trade history. The nearby Cerrillos Hills were a great source of turquoise that they mined, used in jewelry, and traded for exotic goods, such as sea shells, coral, and parrot feathers. Other stones like serpentine, jet, and pipestone were also traded for the turquoise and are stones used in jewelry making at the village today.
The people of Kewa Pueblo are excellent bead makers and skilled lapidary artists. They are renowned for making “Heishi” beads, which are traditionally made of shell, but also turquoise and other stones. These beads are flat and disc-like, made by grinding, drilling and sanding the natural turquoise to fit smoothly against each other. The finished Heishi necklace represents many pieces of turquoise and shows the great color spectrum of the turquoise gem. Thousands of these beads were found at the nearby ruins of Chaco Canyon, and in sites throughout the Southwest as they were traded extensively.
The Santo Domingo Pueblo artists are known for mosaic overlay on shell, a beautiful and very specialized art form, of prehistoric origin that combined the two precious trade goods, turquoise and shell. Traditional mosaic shells are typically large shells overlaid with turquoise on the top half so that the shell is visible below. These special turquoise shells are made into necklaces and earrings, are used for personal adornment and worn for the ceremonial dances. Recently, contemporary style overlaid shells have emerged as modern artists continue this ancient art form.