In Albuquerque, New Mexico, there's a unique space that's a testament to the importance of preserving culture.
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In 1969, the 19 Pueblo tribes joined forces to gain ownership of land they could use to build a cultural hub. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center was founded in 1976 and started with just one building, but has expanded from there significantly. With more than 20 murals, a permanent collection, and a new building announced as recently as 2019, that growth is still going strong.
The hub includes Indian Pueblo Store, a retail space that features both established and emerging Native artists working in sculpture, jewelry, weaving, and more. You can find items like a bright Southwest-patterned apron by Zuni Pueblo artist Aric Chopito; a handblown glass cup with swirling colors by Ohkay Owingeh artist Robert "Spooner" Marcus; a bold Navajo rug by artist Angelina Yazzie; and an eye-catching traditional clay wedding vase by Felicia Fragua Curley.
In honor of Native American Heritage Month, we chatted with Monique Fragua (from the Pueblo of Jemez), Vice President of Commercial Enterprises for IPCC/IPMI (Indian Pueblo Cultural Center & Indian Pueblos Marketing, Inc).
Hunker: The Indian Pueblo Store blog offers information on everything from preserving items to learning more about Pueblo art. How do you decide what topics to cover?
Monique Fragua: With the store being closed right now, we've tried to capture topics and questions that are asked by customers visiting our center. Keeping our customers in mind, we want to offer information that's helpful to everyone. From a guest who's new to Native American art to those who have been collecting for years, we hope we have content for everyone.
Hunker: How can people support Native American artists while also being respectful? (Especially when it comes to home decor).
MF: Purchase from reputable sites or stores who have the ability to work directly with artists and offer a certificate of authenticity for their work. If able, seek opportunities to purchase directly from the artist and learn about the pieces — the [artist's] inspiration and techniques in creating. From painting and textiles to clay pieces, everything tells a story.
Ensure you know the meaning behind the art that you're displaying in your home. This can be done by asking questions about the item, reading books, and gathering information behind the art.
Hunker: Are there any recent items added to the store that you'd like to highlight?
MF: [The artwork] Robin Teller Storyteller with Two Children. Or maybe our print collection. We have some good ones!
Hunker: How can people support the Indian Pueblo Store?
MF: Like, subscribe, follow, share with others ... purchase!
Find out more about the Indian Pueblo Store here.