October 25, 2012

Native presence in New Mexican balloons

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Is a Southwest Spectacular

By Jack McNeelThere is a Native presence in ballooning throughout the region and Native Americans are seen mixed throughout the crowds which number upwards of 100,000 viewers. Two balloons carry Native designs. One is the Zia Sun symbol which is also the New Mexico flag and the second carried a corn maiden design from the Acoma Pueblo.

A visit to the Albuquerque Balloon Museum shows a strong Native influence. A large pot standing four or five feet tall and painted like a Pueblo pot rests outside the main entrance to the museum. It has geometric designs of pueblo pottery but also four large circles around the circumference with scenes painted showing hot air balloons above the scenes.

Inside the museum one spots a display of five items made by Native people: two pottery pieces made by Fio and Lee Vallo of Acoma in the shape of hot air balloons, a balloon fiesta pot over Sandia Pueblo by Robert Tenorio of Santo Domingo and another of his with a design of a bird on a pot shaped like an inverted balloon. The fifth item is a Zia horse hair dance bustle made by Calvert Chapo and Jackie Platero and the center is shaped like a balloon with the Zia Sun symbol.

There’s a poster titled Acoma Sunrise with numerous balloons, plus various small pottery pieces depicting balloons and sold as ornaments by potters from Acoma, Jemez, and the Navajo Nation. Another horse hair bustle is for sale made by Lillian Romero, Laguna, and Marlene Petero, Navajo. It’s shaped like the one on display but has several bright colors on the balloon.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Balloon Festival in Monument Valley.

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