In the Western Americana division of Rare Books and Special Collections is a small collection of paintings and drawings by 20th-century Native American artists, including Alfonso Roybal, also known as Awa Tsireh or Cattail Bird (1898-1955), Abel Sanchez, also known as Oqwa Pi or Red Cloud (1899-1971), and Otis Polelonema, also called Lomadamocvia (1902-1972).
Roybal or Awa Tsireh was born and died in the San Ildefonso Pueblo, Santa Fe County, New Mexico. His father, Alfoncita Martinez Roybal was a Pueblo ceramicist and both his brother, Ralph Roybal, and sister, Santana Roybal Martinez, were painters. Tsireh’s work was first recognized outside the Pueblo in 1920 when Alice Corbin Henderson sent a collection of his work to the Arts Club of Chicago. Several of the drawings at Princeton are identified as once belonging to Henderson. Tsireh worked full-time as a painter, printmaker, lithographer, silversmith, and watercolorist in a studio of his own inside the Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe.
Sanchez or Red Cloud was a colleague of Roybal, also born at San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico. But unlike Roybal, Sanchez pursued a career in politics, serving as Lieutenant governor and governor of the Pueblo, while painting as he found time.
Polelonema was born at Second Mesa, the Northern Arizona Hopi reservation, and studied at the Santa Fe Indian School. At the age of 20, he collaborated with Elizabeth DeHuff, wife of the school’s superintendent, on a children’s book entitled Taytay’s Tales (see images at http://digital.library.upenn.edu/
women/dehuff/taytay/taytay.html). Polelonema returned to his village, Shungopovi, where he farmed and painted, including a few years working under the mural division of the Federal Art Program.
To access these and other paintings, drawings, and prints, go to the Visuals database: http://libweb5.princeton.edu/RareBooks/database.asp