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Monday, September 25, 2006
Rina Swentzell's CHILDREN OF CLAY: A FAMILY OF PUEBLO POTTERS
Like most people, I feel warm and happy when I find some aspect of my life in an unexpected place (provided, of course, that it is presented accurately and with integrity). Such was the case several years ago when I came across Children of Clay: A Family of Pueblo Potters, a photo essay by Rina Swentzell.
Published in 1992 in Lerner's "We Are Still Here" series of photo essays, I especially like Children of Clay because of its photographs of pueblo people (in this case, from Santa Clara Pueblo). From the baby on the cover to the children and adults throughout the book, readers see Pueblo people working and playing in the present day.
Teachers looking for an art lesson or activity that is related to American Indians might consider clay projects. Using Children of Clay with your students, they can see Pueblo kids making things with clay. You can teach your students that:
1) American Indians did not vanish or become extinct.
2) Pueblo Indians are in New Mexico.
3) There are 19 Pueblos (there is a map of them in the book).
4) They are all different, with different names and locations.
5) There are over 500 federally recognized tribal nations in the US today.
A note of caution: Young children could easily develop an idea that "Pueblo Indians make pots." While that is true for some, it is important to tell your students that not all of us are potters.