You are meeting an artist who is such a product of the Souhwest, the Four Corners region, who actually is Local . In Durango anymore, this is so unusual that we are rare as Squaw fish!
Her roots reach all the way back to when her great grandfather was the sherifff of Aztec, N.M. in an old west town with a jail so little that he would have to sit outside the jail to guard the prisoner!Twenty miles down the road he was chasing a young Billy the Kid out of the corn patches in Blanco, N.M.
Artist -Tiki CarpenterHer roots reach all the way back to when her great grandfather was the sheriff of Aztec, N.M. in an old west town with a jail so little that he would have to sit outside the jail to guard the prisoner! Twenty miles down the road he was chasing a young Billy the Kid out of the corn patches in Blanco, N.M. Three generations later, this young artist and her sister were knocking down winning ribbons on their horses, barrel racing, pole bending, quarter mile races plunging out of the starting gates on their excited horses psyched and wanting to race. Her sisters led the old Navajo Trails Fiesta Parade, as the elected queen, attendant for the Mounted Rangers, and herself much younger, as the 4-H Queen. She was toughened up in life by the twin boys who resided at the ranch where their horses stayed. They would beat her up, rub chewed bubble gum in her long hair, giving her some steel which has helped her forge her way through life! What a gift!
In a small rural area, diversity, and capability plus creative thinking are almost pre-requisites for making a living. Her parents' diversity and capability in their way of making a living was reflected by the fact they tried their hand in gold country, father was a stick built builder. The artist was the last and third girl; thus out of necessity became 'her father's son'. More than any, she was out on the job with him straightening nails, hammering, watching him weld plumbing with the torches, etc.
With that influence no wonder she became a jeweler, hammering out precious metal rings and earrings, and cutting, fitting, and soldering bracelets, belt buckles, bola tys! Early on, she was lucky to work her way into an 'Indian jewelry' shop learning to hand make jewelry under the supervisor and with a dozen beautiful Native Americans. It was here that her developing skill earned her the name "Fire Squaw", probably due to holding a burning torch and her then brightly reddish hair. This way of making a living couldn't be more representative of the region. The Four Corners region has long been known for its accomplished artists creating beautiful unique jewelry, weaving, basketry, and yes, gold mining in other circles too.
She is known as a "Lady Miner', at one point holding over 540 acres of mining claims which she filed and staked herself. Guess it should be no surprise that her passions encompass mineral collecting, gold panning, prospecting, and a reverence for archaeology and 'those who have come before'. She and her beloved partner John S.Williams led Elderhostel tours focused on local geology and mining, Again, she was nominated and included in 'Who's Who in America' for her outstanding public performances! She might with advance arrangements consider working with small groups leading them back into the history and lore again on an individual basis..
In her powerful presentations she strived to bring recognition to the brave souls, women miner owner and female mule packer who provided fuel, coal, provisions, determination and courage to carve out their mines, claims and lives here, right here where the 'old West' lived and continues today. This has been easy enough to do, as she grew up spending time at the livery of the woman packer, Olga Little. Then the coal mine owner and operator Violet Smith was the first person to take her underground. The young girl had no idea that they were going to be "firing a hole' upon her descent into the incline tunnel. When the dynamite sticks roared, shaking the earth, and blocking out any light, filling the air with black smoke and coal dust she truly believed she might have just died and was in the scary, hot, dark awful place that bad people go to!