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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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1. Native Voices   

1. Native Voices

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Activities: Author Activities

Simon J. Ortiz - Selected Archive Items

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[5876] Ansel Adams, "Church, Acoma Pueblo" Corner View Showing Mostly Left Wall (1933),
courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration.
The Acoma Pueblo community of Albu-querque, New Mexico, was the childhood home of poet Simon J. Ortiz. Ortiz's poetry deals with political concerns and bears the marks of his oral heritage.

[5887] Ansel Adams, Looking across the Street toward Houses, "Acoma Pueblo" (1933),
courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Branch.
Acoma Pueblo, the home of the Acoma Indians, is believed to be the oldest inhabited village in the United States. Atop a 367-foot mesa, this "Sky City" is well defended against enemies. Dwellings are built around a plaza that serves as the community's sacred center. The interconnectedness of the houses reflects the social bonds of the community.

[5891] Henry Kyllingstad, Daisy Pino, an Acoma Girl, during On-the-Job Training at Brown's Cafe, Albuquerque, N. Mex. (1951),
courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration.
During the 1950s poor living conditions and high unemployment led many Native Americans to seek work off the reservation in cities. N. Scott Momaday, Sherman Alexie, and others write about the hardships and alienation experienced by "urban Indians."

[5971] Nancy Crampton, Simon Ortiz Portrait (n.d.),
courtesy of Nancy Crampton.
Simon J. Ortiz was born in the Acoma Pueblo community, to the Dyaamih clan. In Ortiz's native language there are no words for extended family members; everyone is either "father," "mother," "sister" or "brother."

[8304] Simon Ortiz, Pottery in Acoma Pueblo Culture (2002),
courtesy of Annenberg Media and American Passages.
Pueblo pottery is considered some of the most beautiful, and it has deep ties to storytelling traditions. In this excerpt from a poem by Simon Ortiz, we learn of the power of pottery in Acoma Pueblo culture: "That's the thing about making dhyuuni; / it has more to do with a sense of touching / than with seeing because fingers / have to know the texture of clay..."

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