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Official SWAIA Artist Policies

Official SWAIA Artist Policies

Statement on Artist Policies

These Official SWAIA Artist Policies (“Artist Policies”) are applicable to all artists who apply to and/or participate at the Santa Fe Indian Market (“Indian Market” or “Market”). Participation in Indian Market is a privilege, not a right. These policies have been implemented in order to protect both the artists and the organization. These policies will also be published on the SWAIA website. Please read them carefully and print them out for your records.


1a. Applications

To be considered as an exhibitor at Indian Market, you must have completed the  Indian Market Application and submitted all images and required documents and  paid any and all applicable fees by the deadline stated on the application which is  available from the SWAIA website. Any applications received after the late  deadline for any reason, will NOT be considered for the summer Indian Market.  Artists who submit a hard copy application by mail should include signature  confirmation or send via certified mail to ensure that SWAIA receives the  application. SWAIA is not responsible for lost or misdirected mail. 

1b. Eligibility 

Applicants to Indian Market must be enrolled members of a United States or  Canadian federally-recognized tribe or Alaskan Corporation, and must submit  proof of enrollment in the form of a legible copy of the applicant’s enrollment  card, a Certificate of Indian Blood (CIB), Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood  (CDIB), or a Secured Certificate of Indian Status Card (CIS/SCIS) (Canada). The  enrollment number must also be included on the application form. 

1c. Tribal Certification 

Artists who do not have a CIB/CDIB/CIS/SCIS or official tribal enrollment card  can provide a tribal certification from a federally recognized tribe. However,  SWAIA will review documents used as proof of Native standing and have sole  discretion of accepting documents for Market eligibility. If your enrollment is  pending, you may apply and indicate such. However, if your status is not  confirmed by Jury time, you will be disqualified from participating. 

1d. Jurying Process 

SWAIA typically selects three (3) jurors per classification who are experts and/or  have much experience with the classification they are jurying. These jurors review 

the images artists submit with their application and each juror assigns a total of  100 points each, in 4 criteria areas. The totals are then calculated for a maximum  possible score of 300 points. The four criteria are: Technical Execution,  Concept/Design/Creativity, Aesthetics, and Indian Market Standards

In some classifications, the sheer number of applicants, and the diversity of the  forms warrants a different jurying pool strategy. SWAIA might adjust the pool to  stay efficient in processing applications. An example of strategies to manage large  groups are (1) when Jewelers that work primarily in stones and shells in Division  B and Division D have to be juried separately from the rest of Jewelry; and (2)  when Sculptors who work primarily in fetishes/miniature sculptures as found in  Division C are juried separately from the rest of sculpture. 

1e. Juror Selection 

Jurors for the application process are selected from individuals who have long time expertise or knowledge in each classification. These individuals traditionally  include accomplished and long-time artists, museum curators, experienced  collectors, and art educators. Jurors with potential conflicts of interest are avoided;  for example, a gallery owner that deals in Native Sculpture would not be selected  as a juror for sculpture. Jurors may generally change every year, or a juror may  not jury the same classification two years in a row but may jury another  classification in which they are an expert. SWAIA favors Jurors who can provide  credibility, integrity, and artistic literacy to the jurying process. 

1f. Admission, Waitlist, and Unacceptance 

Admission into Indian Market is based solely on the weight of the artist’s work as  submitted in their application images. Scores are tabulated and then organized  based on highest scores to lowest. Artists are assigned admission and a booth with  the highest scores in each classification being assigned first. The number of  assigned booths from each classification is based on the NUMBER OF  APPLICANTS. 

For example: The first top scoring 20% in each classification are assigned in the  initial assignments of booths. Each classification has a set number of assigned  artists based on the number of applicants that will vary as each classification has  varying numbers of applicants. If 400 jewelers apply, the top scoring 80 artists  (20% of 400) will be initially assigned booths whereas in Textiles, a class in which  typically only 65 artists apply, 13 artists (20% of 65) will be assigned. 

This is applied across all classifications and is the fairest way of admitting artists  into market, based on total applications in each classification. SWAIA then assigns  another 15% across all classes, another 15%, then 10%, etc., until there are no 

longer any available booth spaces. This creates the cutoff between accepted artists  and waitlisted artists. 

Waitlisted artists: Waitlisted artists are artists whose work is acceptable, but for  whom there is no space initially. Approximately 80 to 120 artists each year drop out before Indian Market each year. SWAIA then moves through the waitlist to fill  those spots. The waitlist is ranked in the same manner as accepted artists, based  on score and based on the percentage of applicants in that classification. Waitlisted  artists are contacted according to their scores and must be ready to pay their booth  fee. Artists can sell out early, sometimes within minutes, which opens booth  locations around the market. If an accepted artist misses their payment deadline,  they will be removed from the accepted artist list and moved to the end of the  waitlist. If a waitlisted artist is unable to pay their fee at the time of contact by  SWAIA, they will not be removed from the waitlist, simply moved to the end.  Please stay ready to participate. 

1g. Artist Inquiries and Appeals Process 

Our “Frequently Asked Questions” section of our website holds answers  regarding the jurying process, juror selection, and the criteria for jurying. Artists  may start there and if there are further questions, please send an email to  artistservices@swaia.org

Artists are always welcome to schedule in-person meetings regarding the jurying  process, individual scores, and/or any concerns. We schedule blocks of time for  appointments to honor all meeting requests, but we usually have a large volume  

of requests immediately after Acceptance letters are mailed. Please be patient if  your meeting is scheduled a week out or longer because we have a small staff, and  those meetings will be made in the order the requests are received. 

1h. Booth Assignments and Booth Standards 

Booth assignments are at the complete discretion of SWAIA. SWAIA will try to  accommodate booth requests to stay in the same place or move to a new location,  but booth assignments are based on jurying score. Booths are assigned based on  score, from highest scores to lower scores until there are no available booths.  SWAIA goes to great lengths to ensure accuracy in the official Booth Guide as well  as the mobile phone app, but please be aware that artists must also assume some  personal accountability to inform their clients of any change to their booth  location. 

Booth Standards: Each Market artist paid for a specific booth space/size, and  SWAIA will honor this arrangement with all Market artists. All supplies,  inventory, and displays must be contained inside of the booth. No build outs can  extend from the booth; this include fashioning overhangs and tying tarps to 

surrounding buildings. SWAIA Standards Monitors will be checking sidewalks,  roads, and grassy areas for foot traffic obstructions as well as trash left after load out. If SWAIA staff sees that you have left trash behind, you will be notified that 

there will be a $250 non-refundable cleaning fee applied to your next year’s application. Entry into market will not occur until trash deposit is paid in full. 

Booth Panels: Free-standing grid back panels with footing are required in booths  along Lincoln where merchant stores are located (currently 739-762, though  numbers are subject to change). Net or mesh sidewalls should not prevent  visibility through the booth. Your letter of Acceptance will notify you if your  booth will have that restriction. 

1i. Payment and Refund Policy 

Application and Booth payments must be paid by the deadline as outlined in the  application and artist packets. No exceptions will be made for any reason, unless  the error lies with SWAIA. The burden of proving that it is SWAIA’s error lies  with the artist. Artists must retain proof of submission of their payment either  through copies of receipts, mailed payments, photos, etc. If it is SWAIA’s error  SWAIA will do their best to make the error right. 

Please be aware of the refund deadlines printed in the Acceptance Letter. For  example, a Full Refund (minus $50 Administration Fee) four months before  Market date, Half Refund (Minus $5- Administration Fee) three months before  Market date, and No Refund two months before Market date. The amount  refunded reduces as the Indian Market gets closer. There is absolutely no refund  for the artist application fee. 


2a. General Release/Exhibitor Declaration 

Any Native American artist wishing to participate at the Santa Fe Indian Market must complete and submit a hardcopy or online, the official SWAIA application, required documents, and applicable fees, by the deadlines noted in the 

application. The application must also be signed and dated by the exhibitor applicant, who agrees to the following, as outlined in the Exhibitor Declaration: 

I attest that: I am the artist and that all artwork submitted by me is a true and accurate  representation of my work to be sold at the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market. I am an  enrolled member of a United States or Canadian federally recognized  


I understand by signing this application: I agree to abide by SWAIA’s Indian Market  Standards and Artist Policies, including but not limited to all work being made by me, or 

in the case of Full-Time Collaborators, by my collaborator and myself. I agree to all  SWAIA decisions and procedures regarding the application process, participation, and  booth assignment at Indian Market. I agree to authorize SWAIA to create and submit a  City of Santa Fe Special Event License Application (SELA). I will abide by the rules set by  that SELA and State of New Mexico Tax and Revenue Department regarding any and all  fees and taxes. I agree that submitted images can be used by SWAIA for any and all  promotional material or other usage deemed necessary by SWAIA. I understand that any  misrepresentations of my enrollment status, my artwork or non-resolution of legal action against SWAIA will disqualify me from participating in Market. 

An application must be signed by the potential artist/exhibitor, either with  signature or an electronic signature. An application submitted without a  signature will be considered incomplete and will not move forward to the jurying  process. All artists should retain photocopies of their application for their records. 


3a. Bullying 

SWAIA has a zero-tolerance policy for bullying of staff or Board Members.  SWAIA defines Bullying as verbal or physical abuse, threats of violence,  aggressive behavior, behavior meant to intimidate, harass berate, ridicule, or by  willfully ignoring instruction. 

3b. Market Acceptance 

An artist who has participated in Indian Market or has applied for inclusion for  this year’s Indian Market, they will jeopardize their acceptance if they abuse  defame, slander, or otherwise denigrate SWAIA, the Santa Fe Indian Market,  and/or other Indian Market artists.  

3c. Violations 

An artist who is found to have violated the above policy (Section 3) will be  notified, verbally and/or in writing. The violation will be recorded with Artist  Services, and the artist will forfeit their participation at Indian Market for a period  determined by the SWAIA Executive Director. An artist may appeal the decision  to the SWAIA Board, in writing, within 30 days after the notification of violation  and forfeiture was received. 


4a. Jurying Process 

During the jurying process, jurors may find violations of the official SWAIA  standards manual in the images submitted with the artist application. Artists are 

responsible for knowing the standards applicable to every classification for which  the artist applies. Ignorance of the standards is not a defense.  

A violation of the standards during the jurying process will result in a deduction  for that image only determined by the jurors of that classification. Deductions may  be slight, if the violation is only a small part of the overall piece, or the deduction  may be a total disqualification if the total piece is a violation. Jurors will still  award a score on the other two images submitted. Violations will be noted in the  notes section of each juror’s scorecard. 

4b. Prohibited Activities 

Selling another artist’s work: Artists must only sell their own work at their booth,  unless the artist is sharing a booth with another artist who has also been juried  into Market. This includes the work of other family members. For example, an  artist who has been successfully juried into Indian Market in the category of  pottery, may only sell his or her pottery and not that of other family members not  juried into Market. 

Submission to Best of Show competition only in approved classifications: Artists  may only submit for judging of work in the classifications for which they have  been accepted. For example, an artist who has been juried into Indian Market in  the classification of jewelry may only submit jewelry for judging, and not pottery,  textiles or baskets. 

4c. Enforcement of Artist Policies, Violations during Market 

The enforcement of Market Standards and Booth Standards are intended to help  guide and protect our hardworking artists and their customers/clients. 

Direct Observation by Standards Monitor: We will have Standards Monitors (SM)  and secret shoppers observing the market event for items that do not meet SWAIA standards. The SMs are responsible for identifying booth issues, issuing violation  forms, and informing the Artist Services Coordinator (or Executive Director) when  violation forms are written. The violation form process is as follows: 

1) the initial acknowledgment that there are SWAIA Market Standards and  Policies is when the application is signed, and by signing that you will abide by  both the Indian Market Standards and Artist Policies there is confirmation of  knowing the requirements; 

2) if an SM fills out a violation form with instruction for the assigned booth artist  to sign the violation form and to remedy the issue. The artist’s violation will be  connected to the next Market application causing a review of the noted violation,  which may affect future participation in SWAIA events.

3) If there is a refusal by the artist to sign their name on the form, then the artist  must pack up and vacate the booth; no refund will be given. The artist will no  longer be allowed to apply for or participate in future Market events. 

4) two consecutive written violations in the same year will result in a one-year  exclusion from future SWAIA Markets. All write ups will be cross referenced to  assist placement, enforcement, and when reviewing appeals.  

Reported Violations to Standards Monitors: We will investigate complaints and  concerns regarding market and booth standards violations and observe the  situation directly. 

Reevaluation to ensure continued compliance: Even if the artist feels that the  violation is in error, he or she must still abide by the SWAIA staff/representative’s  decision to withdraw the piece(s). Failure to abide by this decision may result in  immediate expulsion from Indian Market and potential banishment from future  Indian Markets. Violation will be noted on the official SWAIA form and  

photographs taken for Artist Services. 

4d. Appeals process: 

If an artist feels that the violation/withdrawal decision was made in error, they  must document the pieces through photographs, written descriptions, witness  testimony etc. Artists may then initiate the appeals process AFTER Indian Market  by writing an appeals letter to the SWAIA Executive Director. Please include  photos and a description of the pieces and why you, the artist, feel that the  violation was in error. The Executive Director will then advise you, in writing, of  their decision and the next step(s), if necessary. 


5a. Rights 

Artists and/or potential exhibitors are within their rights to engage in the legal  process in accordance with applicable law. SWAIA reserves the right to suspend  the artist’s/potential exhibitor’s participation at Indian Market until the legal  dispute is resolved to the satisfaction of SWAIA. 

5b. SWAIA Response and Legal Policy 

SWAIA reserves the right to vigorously defend itself against any and all claims.  SWAIA will seek compensatory damages for claims brought with the intent of  harming or otherwise disparaging the SWAIA brand, organization, Board of  Directors, Staff or other artists participating at Indian Market.

5c. Participation at Indian Market 

Participation at Indian Market is a privilege, not a right. Fundamental fairness in the jurying process, booth assignments, PR/Marketing, and Awards program are  guiding principles of SWAIA; regardless of tribe, age, gender, art form, and/or  duration of time participating at Indian Market. 

5d. Agreement to Abide by all SWAIA Policies and Decisions 

By completing and signing the SWAIA Application, artists and vendors agree to  abide by all SWAIA policies and decisions regarding the selection/jurying  process, booth assignments, and general participation requirements and logistics  of Indian Market. 


6a. All donations of art, whether by the original artist or the owner of said piece,  become the sole property of SWAIA to be used in any manner that SWAIA deems  fit. The donor, in making the donation, guarantees that the donated art piece is the  property of the donor or artist and is free from any liens, claims, encumbrances,  does not infringe on any copyright, and is given without any expectation of  performance or compensation by SWAIA staff or board. 

6b. Donor/artist further agrees to grant SWAIA an unlimited release of any  images of the donated piece to be used by SWAIA for PR/Marketing and  promotional purposes, in perpetuity. 


The SWAIA awards program recognizes and rewards artistic excellence and  technical expertise in the many classifications of Indian Market. Artists are  awarded ribbons and cash awards in the Classifications, Divisions, and Categories  as outlined in the Standards Manual. The award amounts may vary at the  discretion of SWAIA and are namely contingent upon the funds raised and  available for the SWAIA Awards Program in any given year. Therefore,  

cumulative awards are NOT guaranteed. (For example, if you win Best of  Division, you may not be also paid out for Best of Category.) 


Food Vendors and non-profit participant policies are generally bound by the same  policies as artist vendor participants, as applicable. The application process,  selections, booth assignments and locations, and fees are all at the discretion of  SWAIA. Participants under these categories agree to abide by all decisions of the  SWAIA staff.


SWAIA Announces New Board Chair & Executive Committee Appoinments

SWAIA Announces New Board Chair & Executive Committee Appointments

Dawn Houle is elected SWAIA Board of Director’s Chair


Santa Fe, New Mexico: The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) announces the appointment of its newly elected executive committee. Board member Dawn Houle (Chippewa Cree Tribe of Montana) has been elected Board Chair. Houle succeeds Stephine Poston (Pueblo of Sandia), who completed her term of office and brought years of experience optimizing business opportunities for Native American Tribal governments and individuals.

“The new board members play a big role in supporting and advocating for Native Artists and I’m excited to join this world class leadership in shaping how we continue to elevate Native Artists to the world stage. We have a century of legacy work that we can build upon and I’m grateful to Ms. Poston for the tremendous efforts she provided to the organization. In a world of pressing issues and challenges, the expression of art helps us learn and celebrate. I welcome this new role to strengthen member commitments while bringing in new resources to support SWAIA and the artists,” said Dawn Houle.

New appointments to the executive committee include Michael Trujillo, Vice-Chair, and JoAnn Chase (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara), elected Secretary.

Tom Teegarden will remain in the position of Treasurer. Natasha K. Hale, the Director of Native American Partnerships for the Catena Foundation is also a newly elected board member.

SWAIA’s Executive Director, Jamie Schulze, on behalf of the entire staff said, “We would like to thank outgoing executive committee and board members for their commitment to SWAIA and to our artists. The dates for Winter Market are Saturday, November 25, and Sunday, November 26, at the Santa Fe Convention Center. We invite everyone to join us. Tickets are available at swaia.org.

SWAIA’s 2023 Board Members:

  • JoAnn Chase (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Indian Nation) | Secretary — Director of the American Indian Environmental Office, Office of International and Tribal Affairs.
  • Randy Chitto (Mississippi Choctaw)— Artist
  • Elias Gallegos— Actor and Producer
  • Natasha K. Hale (Navajo) —Director of Native American Partnerships, Catena Foundation
  • Andrea Hanley (Navajo)—Curator
  • Dawn Houle (Chippewa Cree Tribe of Montana) | Board Chair —President and founder, SunSinger Consulting LLC.
  • Bill Lomax (Gitxsan Nation)— President & CEO at First Nations Bank of Canada
  • Russell Sanchez (San Ildefonso Pueblo)— Artist
  • Tom Teegarden | Treasurer— Vice President of High Water Mark, LLC.
  • Michael Trujillo | Vice Chair —Santa Fe community leader and public servant
  • Chris Youngblood (Santa Clara Pueblo)— Artist

To become a member of SWAIA visit: https://swaia.org/memberships/

Media Inquiries:
Audrey Rubinstein 505-490-5029| audrey@themettaagency.com


About The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA):
The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) is a non-profit organization supporting Native American arts and culture. It creates economic and cultural opportunities for Native American artists by producing and promoting the Santa Fe Indian Market, the biggest and most prestigious Indian art event in the world since 1922; cultivating excellence and innovation across traditional and non-traditional art forms; and developing programs and events that support, promote, and honor Native artists year-round. swaia.org

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Santa Fe Indian Market at ABQ



Join us for the first annual Santa Fe Indian Market at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Artists must obtain a $35 Albuquerque business registration license/permit. (more information will be sent to the placed artists’ email).  Please note that the GRT and CRS are the same number.  This is the number you provide to SWAIA for every market.  This license must be on display in your booth during SFIM @ ABQ.

Booth sizes are all 10′ x 10′ with no side wall/backwall panels. You’ll need to bring your own table and chairs.

All sharers must be 2022 SWAIA juried artists.  Fees for shared booths must be paid by a single, primary artist at the end of the below application.

Parking for artists will be provided.  More information to follow.


Glorieta Station, 573 Commercial Street NE, close to the Albuquerque Convention Center downtown

Date & Time

October 1st & 2nd from 9:00am to 5:00pm MST

Booth Fees

Large Booth Fee For Single, Adult Artist – $440.00

Large Booth Fee For Adult & 1 Minor – $450.00

Large Booth Fee For Adult & 2 Minors – $460.00

Large Booth Fee For Adult & 3 Minors – $470.00

Large Booth Fee For Artist Sharing With 1 Other Adult – $660.00

Large Booth Fee For Artist Sharing With 2 Other Adults – $ 825.00

Large Booth Fee For Artist Sharing With 3 Other Adults – $920.00

Welcome to our Centennial Celebration


I would like to acknowledge that this gathering convenes in O’gah’poh geh Owingeh (White Shell Water Place), or Santa Fe, New Mexico, located on the traditional and ancestral lands of the Tewa people. This celebration of Indigenous art and ingenuity brings together artist

delegates from hundreds of tribal nations every year to share their talent and creativity with the world.

This year has been our first opportunity to plan a full market since 2019, so we made sure to bring back time-honored traditions, including the crowdfavorite Clothing Contest. It has been a wonderful experience to create programming for a weekend that is free of the limitations that we faced for our events in 2020 and 2021. We have planned many fun and exciting events for you to enjoy, and I am particularly looking forward to the SWAIA Gala: “Shiny Drop” Centennial Party, which will feature a fashion show, live art auction, and an afterparty with live music and dancing.

In addition, throughout this past year, we were able to cultivate SWAIA’s mission of developing strong partnerships. We’ve been able to forge new relationships with various organizations and individuals that could only come from in-person meetings, and I know you will notice a more enhanced experience due to this support of our allies.

Notably, we have increased the cash awards for artists, and our Best of Show award will be $30,000! We listened to the feedback of artists, sponsors, and donors. We heard what they wanted to see from our organization, and they came by our side to make so many things happen. Working with important partners, we were able to meet goals and exceed expectations.

Also this year, I was more involved with jurying, booth placements, and artist communications. I was able to serve artists in a very practical and hands-on way. It was a complete honor to learn more about who they are and connect with each artist in this way, with the goal of establishing stronger relationships with artists year after year.

We continue to have lofty goals for the organization. We’ve set a great foundation, and now we’re diversifying what we provide to the participants of Indian Market in order to promote sustainability and look forward to the next 100 years.

As we expand our digital platform and online presence, we invite you to celebrate art and support commerce 365 days a year. While we commemor

ate the past 100 years, we celebrate the ultimate prize — the future of SWAIA for the next 100 years. This is going to be a memorable weekend, and we hope you enjoy every inspiring minute of it.

Much fun,

Kimberly A. Peone
SWAIA Executive Director
(Colville Confederated Tribes/Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Bosque Redondo

Slavery, Silver And The U.S. War Against The Navajo Nation

Excerpt From:



Bosque Redondo Title



The Blacksmith’s Shop


“The chief quartermaster will direct that a set of blacksmith tools complete, and some iron, be sent to Fort Sumner for the use of the Navajos. Tell them to go to work at once and make adobes to build the shop. You select the site near the post, and have the shop made long enough to have a forge in each end.”
—Captain Ben Cutler, Fort Sumner, New Mexico, August 1864



It’s not clear when the forgeries began, but in early 1865, soldiers working in Fort Sumner’s commissary discovered that their ration tickets had been altered, allowing for more food than originally authorized. Other tickets simply disappeared from circulation.

“These tickets,” army surgeon George Gwyther recalled a few years later, “at first made of stout card-board, were so often willfully lost, or the writing on them so skillfully forged, that stamped metal slips were substituted.”
Of course, the same Diné headman who knew how to write like a Bilagáana also knew how to work metal. And now he had access to a complete set of blacksmith tools courtesy of the U.S. Army. Gwyther reported that “in short time it was found that their ingenuity had enabled them to make dies and forge the impressions successfully.”

So successfully, in fact, that no one could tell the difference. The soldiers didn’t know they’d been conned until they counted the tin tickets they’d collected and discovered they’d taken in more than they’d handed out. After one such tally in May 1865, Captain Henry Bristol reported to the post adjutant:


“In conclusion, I would state that the number of spurious tickets are increasing, and they are so handsomely executed as to be indistinguishable. Three hundred of these tickets are among the genuines and are so much alike and the same that Mr. Edgar is unable to throw them out.”


All told, the prisoners counterfeited more than three thousand ration tickets that year. They also successfully duplicated three hundred of Carleton’s military passports, which granted anyone who slipped out of Bosque Redondo safe passage through New Mexico.

One of the brass ration tokens the army made to prevent further counterfeiting, along with a silver peso favored by Diné smiths.
One of the brass ration tokens the army made to prevent further counterfeiting, along with a silver peso favored by Diné smiths.

The fraudulent passports may explain how Barboncito, after he was captured in Canyon de Chelly, managed to escape from Bosque Redondo in July 1865 and elude Union soldiers for more than a year. He finally returned of his own accord in November 1866, bringing with him a few families on the edge of starvation.

Similarly, Manuelito not only managed to evade capture for three years but also surreptitiously visited Bosque Redondo at least once. The most wanted man in the territory proved impossible to catch. He finally gave himself up in September 1866, after he was shot in the forearm in a skirmish with Hopi warriors and his followers lost the will to fight.

The army eventually put an end to ration ticket counterfeiting by ordering brass tokens shipped in from a federal mint, each about the size of a half dollar—impossible to duplicate under the conditions of the camp. A photograph taken at Bosque Redondo shows more than a dozen Diné men, seated on the ground, apparently under guard. It’s captioned, “Navajo chiefs accused of counterfeiting ration tickets at Bosque Redondo, Fort Sumner, New Mexico.” Yet there’s no record of charges being filed.

Delgadito was the obvious suspect. Punishing him, however, was another matter. The general had turned Delgadito into the symbol of the supposed subjugation of the Navajo; how could Carleton admit that he’d been duped by his prisoner?

By the time the counterfeiting operation was uncovered, Carleton could not afford another scandal. His critics were growing by the month. The previous December, the Santa Fe Weekly New Mexican accused him of participating in the slave trade he’d forbidden. Under a headline declaring, “Carleton Gives Away One of His ‘Pets,’” the paper reported:


“Indian in his possession, but I have lately learned that General Carleton Everybody is aware and knows that no one is allowed to have a Navajo presented a little Navajoe girl to a sutler, 3 or 4 months ago.…I’ve not the slightest ill-feeling towards the sutler (who is a gentleman), but I could merely call the attention of the people of New Mexico to the fact that while many of them have been compelled to give up the Indians whom they had for many years, and who were perfectly contented with their situation, General Carleton, as a matter of economy, keeps them on hand for presents and gifts.”


In Washington, there were complaints about how much Bosque Redondo cost and questions about the treatment of prisoners. Carleton’s superiors received reports of one deprivation after another: not enough food, not enough water, not enough firewood, children dying from dysentery and smallpox…and where was all that fabled gold?

Patience, Carleton urged. The Navajo could still thrive at Bosque Redondo. “Through all the clouds that now seem to surround this important, and, to them, vital matter, I hope soon to see some encouraging light,” he wrote.

Time was running out. Outcry was growing over the treatment of America’s first nations, not just in New Mexico Territory but throughout the West. Newspaper reports of the Sand Creek Massacre, in which U.S. troops attacked Arapaho and Cheyenne families in their sleep, jolted readers across the country.

In March 1865, the Senate and House passed a joint resolution “directing an inquiry into the condition of the Indian tribes and their treatment by the civil and military authorities of the United States.” Within weeks, army commanders in New Mexico learned that the inquiry was coming to them. Representative Lewis Ross, an Illinois Democrat, was traveling to Bosque Redondo to hold Congressional field hearings. And Herrero Delgadito, the blacksmith turned counterfeiter, would be among those called to testify.


The Condition of the Indian Tribes


Captain Henry Bristol didn’t mention the counterfeiting operation. One month after finding another three hundred duplicates of the tin ration tickets, he appeared before a team of Congressional investigators at Fort Sumner and swore that the blacksmith’s shop was an example of how well things were going at Bosque Redondo.

“The young men and boys seem very anxious to learn, and show much aptitude for the work,” Bristol testified at the June 1865 field hearing. “They have some blacksmiths among them who make good bits; one presented, made by a Navajo, is in the Spanish style.”

Bristol did his best to counter the camp’s growing chorus of critics. He allowed that there had been some deaths—exactly how many, he couldn’t say—but he described the prisoners as a largely contented and industrious lot. “If nothing interferes to prevent the present crops from maturing, as they now promise well, I think we shall raise nearly enough to feed the Indians until next season,” Bristol said.

Congressman Lewis Ross invited the prisoners to furnish witnesses of their own. The Mescalero Apache leader Cadette spoke first, telling Ross that the prisoners wanted just one thing: to go home. They had tried to make a life for themselves at the Bosque, but the people were always hungry. Dysentery, smallpox and measles claimed new victims every week. “About six days ago, four died: an old man, middle-aged man, a boy, and a girl,” Cadette told Ross.

The Diné chose Delgadito to speak on their behalf. He confirmed everything Cadette had said—the deprivation, the disease. By then, Delgadito had lost five of his own children.172 A clerk wrote down Ross’s questions, followed by Delgadito’s answers, as translated by an interpreter:


Question: Is there plenty of wood on the reservation for fuel?

“There is plenty below here, but we have to go too far for it. Don’t know whether fuel could be floated down the river or not; knows of some floating down; could pack the wood if we had the burros. The water has alkali in it, and they are afraid it will make them sick; a good many have been sick and died; when they drank the water, they took sick and died; and others have got sick by carrying mesquite so far. Those that were attended by the doctor all died; do not know his name; he was physician at the hospital. There is a hospital here for us; but all who go in never come out. We have physicians among ourselves, but they can’t cure all; some must die. They commenced to get sick about last October, and since then every day some of them have died; so many of them dying they are getting frightened; a good many of his children and grandchildren have died; three sons and two daughters have died; they are dying as though they were shooting at them with a rifle.”


Question: Do the young men like to work and want to work?

“Yes; the young men work well; love to work; even the women.”


Question: Are your women and children all pretty well now?

“All are not well; some of them are sick (all agree to what Herrero says).”


Question: If your people had plenty of wool could they make all the clothes?

“Yes; if we had the wool we could make all the clothes for the tribe. All of them know how to cultivate by irrigation; thinks there is plenty of land; but somehow the crops do not come out well. Last year the worms destroyed their crops.…There is plenty of pasture for all their stock; some have but 25, 30, or 40, but more have none; none have a hundred. They try and keep their sheep for their milk, and only kill them when necessary, when the rations are short or smell bad. They depend on the milk of the sheep to live and to give to the little children; they are honest and do not kill each other’s sheep; they own their animals themselves, and not in common; they would like each man to have his own piece of land and work it for himself and his family; they have not grain, stock, and other things enough; when they have enough they would like to have their children go to school; they would not like to have their children go to school until they had learned all kinds of trades, so they could make a living. Some officers at Fort Canby told them when they got here the government would give them herds of horses, sheep, and cattle, and other things they needed, but they have not received them; they had to lose a good deal of their property on account of the war, and the Utahs stole the rest from them; have been at war with the Utahs nine years, and about the same number of years with the Mexicans. Before the war with the Utahs and Mexicans, had everything we wanted; but now have lost everything. Herrero was quite young when the war commenced with the Mexicans. In the war everything was stolen on both sides, women and children, flocks. When children were taken we kept them, sold them, or gave them back. The Mexicans got the most children…”


Navajo Leger

Ordered to compile a list of slaves in his jurisdiction, U.S. Indian Agent Lafayette Head omitted those he personally held in captivity.   Fort Garland Museum.


“…we have only two, and they don’t want to go back; have not been in the habit of selling our own children; don’t know of an instance. They don’t expect to be rich again; but if they had plenty of stock, and wagons to haul their wood, they would prosper again. Some of the soldiers do not treat us well. When at work, if we stop a little they kick us or do something else; but generally they treat us well. We do not mind if an officer punishes us, but do not like to be treated badly by the soldiers. They say their women sometimes come to the tents outside the fort and make contracts with the soldiers to stay with them for a night, and give them five dollars or something else; but in the morning take away what they gave them and kick them off. This happens most every day. In the night, they leave the fort and go to the Indian camps; the women are not forced, but consent willingly; a good many of the women have the venereal disease. It has existed among them a good many years in their own country, but was not so common there as it is here; there are remedies to cure the disease, but they cannot get them here; they have no confidence in the medicines given them at the hospital; think it would do them no good; most of the old men know how to cure the disease; they use the root of wild weeds that do not grow here; some of the people are dying here of the disease; some were taken to the hospital, but were not cured; when they find out a person has that disease they report it to the hospital; this they have done for some time; but all they have reported there have died. The custom of the tribe is never to enter a house where a person has died, but abandon it. That is the reason they don’t want to go to the hospital; they would prefer a tent out by their camps for a hospital.”


By Mr. Ross to Herrero, Question: Were you made a chief by your own people or by the whites?

“By my own people.”



To the chiefs, Question: Would you all like to go back to your old country or remain here?

“They would rather prefer to be in their own country, although they have most everything they want here; they are all of this opinion, and would like to have you send them back; and if you have any presents to give them they will distribute them among them. If they were sent back they would promise never to commit an act of hostility.”


Question: If you are sent back could you make your own living?

“Yes; we could support ourselves; and you could send some troops to see that we kept our promise.”


Finally, Ross got to the big question, the only one the Diné really cared about:

Question. Do you want us, when we go back, to tell the Great Father and the great council that you would like to be sent back to your old country?

“Yes; we would all like to go, and if sent back would go straight back the
way we came.”


Question: Are the soldiers treating you badly? And if so, let us know.

“The soldiers about here treat us very bad—whipping and kicking us.”


Question: Do you get enough to eat here?

“We do not get enough to eat.”


Question: How much do you get as a ration?

“(No answer recorded)”


Question. Is there any game in your own country?

“Yes; there is plenty of rabbits, antelope, deer, and wild potatoes. Herrero says they would like to have you send them back to their own country. They think you are the greatest men and can send them back, and they would like to have it done soon.”


Ross explained that he and his colleagues didn’t have the authority to release anyone—they could only relay the wish to the president and Congress. Delgadito conferred with other Diné headmen and then turned to the interpreter. “They say they will try and work to do all they can to support themselves until they learn what disposition is to be made
of them.”

Delgadito had one other request that day. He told Ross that his name— Herrero—meant “blacksmith.” He explained that he’d been training some of the other men, teaching them how to fashion bridle bits, hatchets and such. Was it possible, the counterfeiter asked the congressman, to send more tools for the blacksmith’s shop?


Want to read more?

Indian Market Throughout The Years

Honoring Tradition With Joann and Bob Balzer


As Indian Market celebrates its centennial anniversary, this video captures so much of the wonderful aspects of the Indian Market throughout the years, as seen through the eyes of JoAnn and Bob Balzer. It captures not just JoAnn and Bob’s experiences of 50 STRAIGHT Indian Markets, but the wonderfulness and importance of Indian Market, its artists and events.

Credit goes to Cathy Notarnicola, Curator of Southwest History at the New Mexico History Museum, and her team, who have worked tirelessly since last year to produce not just this video, but the not-to-be-missed exhibition:


SWAIA Announces Centennial Fashion Designers

SWAIA/Santa Fe Indian Market Centennial


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE— The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA), the non-profit organization that produces the annual Santa Fe Indian Market, is pleased to announce SWAIA’s Centennial Indigenous Fashion Show designers.
The 2022 fashion programming is expanding over two days, showcasing two full fashion shows with the first premiering on Saturday, August 20, at the Centennial Gala Party: Shiny Drop. The finale Indigenous Fashion Show takes place on Sunday, August 21, at the Santa Fe Convention Center. Sunday’s fashion show is immediately followed by an exclusive Trunk Show, limited to ticket holders of the SWAIA Fashion Show. Guests will have the opportunity to buy and order directly from their favorite designers.

Designer Jamie Okuma, featuring model Moonstar; SWAIA runway 2021.
Photo © Tira Howard for SWAIA

Amber-Dawn Bear Robe, who produces the fashion events, states “The long-term goal is to grow the fashion programming into a SWAIA Fashion Week. Last year we announced a partnership between SWAIA Fashion, Indigenous Fashion Arts (IFA), Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) and the newly established Supernaturals Modelling Agency. All partners will be back this year and we hoping to announce a Santa Fe Indigenous Fashion Week soon.”

Details are available on the new SWAIA fashion website at  swaia.org/fashion . Tickets on sale soon!

The 2022 participating fashion designers are:

  • Jason Baerg (Cree Métis)
  • Himikalas / Pamela Baker (Kwaguilth/ Sqaumish)
  • Catherine Blackburn (Dene) and Melanie LeBlanc (European and Dene)
  • Orlando Dugi (Navajo)
  • Korina Emmerich (Puyallup and Nisqually)
  • Sho Esquiro (Kaska Dene/ Cree)
  • Lauren GoodDay (Arikara, Hidatssa, Blackfeet, Plains Cree)
  • Dorothy Grant (Haida)
  • Lesley Hampton (Anishinaabe)
  • Ursula Hudson (Tlingit)
  • Patricia Michaels (Taos Pueblo)
  • Skawennati (Mohawk)
  • Jamie Okuma (Luiseño, Wailaki, Okinawan, and Shoshone-Bannock)
  • Cody Sanderson (Navajo)
  • Yolanda Skelton (Gitxsan)
  • Adrian Standing Elk Pinnecoose (Navajo/Southern Ute)

Concurrent with SWAIA’s Centennial fashion programming, the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) is launching an exhibition entitled Art of Indigenous Fashion, curated by Bear Robe. Opening Thursday, August 18, the show features many of the designers who have been on the SWAIA runway.

M E D I A  C O N T A C T
Audrey N Rubinstein
The Metta Agency

About SWAIA Fashion:
SWAIA Fashion encompasses the annual Fashion Shows produced during, and soon beyond, the Santa Fe Indian Market by curator and Indigenous art historian Amber-Dawn Bear Robe. Since 2014, Bear Robe has produced and directed SWAIA’s fashion programming.

Supernaturals Modelling