Tradition Tuesdays: Clay Stories, Haha’atadkam

Haha’atadkam means “one who makes pottery” in the O’odham language. This artform for both ornamental and utilitarian purposes is a lesser known form of the Tohono O’odham people, who are often celebrated for their basketweaking. In this conversation and demonstration, learn about the history and practice of Tohono O’odham pottery and the story each pot has to tell.

Facilitator: BERNARD SIQUIEROS, Tohono O’odham community member
REUBEN NARAJNO, Tohono O’odham potter
KATHLEEN VANCE, Tohono O’odham potter

Panel Video


BERNARD G. SIQUIEROS is an enrolled member of the Tohono O’odham Nation recently retired as the Curator of Education at Himdag Ki: Hekĭhu, Hemu, Im B I-Ha’ap, the Tohono O’odham Nation’s Cultural Center and Museum. He has also worked as a counselor, researcher, program coordinator, and education administrator on and off the Tohono O’odham Nation. He is an avid photographer and has contributed immensely to the tribe’s photo documentation efforts at Himdag Ki.

Panelist 1

REUBEN NARANJO is a Tohono O’odham potter who first learned from his grandmother, Mary Neblina Lewis. He later studied with Alicia Bustamente of S-Gogosik, Sonora, Mexico, and Annie Manuel of Hickiwan, Arizona, to make utilitarian terracotta ollas and white clay friendship pots using colored clay slips and paints. For Reuben, being a potter recalls the first O’odham potter our creator, I’itoi heki hu t-wenag, who first created the O’odham from red clay, water sand and fire. Reuben is a 2016 recipient of the Southwest Folklife Alliance Master-Apprentice Award.

Panelist 2

KATHLEEN (KATHY) VANCE is of Tohono O’odham and San Carlos Apache lineage and calls the southern Arizona desert home. Although she grew up in Tucson she moved to the main reservation as a teen and began her foundation on the Tohono O’odham Nation. Kathy has been culturally influenced by a community of people who respect and value the Himdag (O’odham lifeways). In 2000, with other womenfolk, Kathy began working with Alicia Bustamante of El Bajio community located in northern Mexico which is historically O’odham country. Alicia was one of the few remaining traditional O’odham potters. With Alicia, Kathy learned the basic fundamentals of the anvil and paddle method. Alicia encouraged Kathy not to give up and reassured her that great potters have humble beginnings and that each setback is actually growth in this tradition. After Alicia unexpectedly passed away, she met Reuben Naranjo who became a resource and mentor to her. For the past 14 years, under his teachings and guidance, she continues to produce utilitarian pottery such as; cooking vessels, water ollas, seed jars, effigy pots and whistles.


Cultural Communities / Countries of Origins

Festival Appearance
TMY Virtual

Panel Date/Time
October 6, 2020 9:00 am

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