Activities: Folk Art

In The Santero's Miracle, don Jacobo is a master santero, who practices the folk art of creating saints. Many cultures have their own folk arts. Cajuns in the American Southeast have a distinct style of music, The Gullah people in coastal Southeast weave sweetgrass baskets, and the Amish are known for their quilts.

In New Mexico, we have a rich history of folk art from our Indian, Anglo, and Spanish ancestors. Sam Suina, an educator with New Mexico State University and a member of the Cochiti Pueblo, is an expert basketweaver and drum maker. He learned these skills from his ancestors and passes them to others who are interested in learning.

Basketmaking video

Basket weaving

In basket weaving, Sam Suina demonstrates a traditional art that is both spiritual and practical.

Sam begins weaving with an offering of cornmeal, ground by his daughter on a traditional metate. He thanks the creator for the gift of the willows. He thanks the willows for giving their branches, and asks forgiveness from the things that lived in the willows for taking their homes. He thanks his grandparent’s spirits, for the gifts they have given him.

As Sam makes the basket, he says it is ok to make mistakes, because that is how we learn. He says the base of the basket is like the base of a culture in that it encompasses and supports everything.

Watch the basket weaving video.

Drum making slideshow

Drum Making

Drums are used in the ceremonies of New Mexico’s Pueblo Indians, and making the drums also brings people together.  Sam Suina teaches people all over New Mexico how to make drums, just as his grandfather taught him.  

In teaching people how to make drums, Sam honors his ancestors because when they taught others to make drums, they made sure the tradition would be passed on.  He also thanks the living things that contributed to the drum.  

Making a drum takes a long time, but it does not seem hard if you share the work with other people.

View the drum making slideshow.

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