Joshua Madalena, an enrolled Jemez Tribal member, a former two time governor and a county commissioner, a former NM State Monument manager and a historian on Jemez Culture & History is an internationally renowned artist. He has turned his talents to successfully replicating a 300 year-old lost art tradition of the Hemish People. For over a decade, he has extensively researched the art and production of Black-on-White pottery traditions. His pioneering trial and error efforts have lead in the rediscovery of this art, much to the delight of collectors. Following Spanish re-conquest of northern New Mexico in 1692, the Jemez people made a conscious decision to temporarily end this tradition rather than allow their pots to be confiscated as taxes by the Spanish (Encomienda System).
But, by the early 18th century, the black-on-white techniques were lost. Mesa Verde National Park has chosen Joshua’s creations as officially sanctioned replicas of Black-on-White traditional pottery for sale in the Park’s Visitor Center gift shops.
“I was brought up respecting family and cultural values. Over two decades ago, I come to find out that over 300 years ago, we lost a significant portion of our cultural heritage: Jemez Black-on-White pottery traditions. I felt as a traditional person, it was unacceptable to live without this pottery tradition. That’s when I realized it was time to search for the true recipe of the identity of my people. After a decade of trial and error, a few hundred broken pottery pieces, my pioneering efforts finally became successful. Today, I make black-on-white pottery vessels in honor and respect of the ancestors and all of their sacrifices.”