Tribe: Santo Domingo

Marvin and Lillie Lovato, a husband and wife team, carve intricate heishi beads out of turquoise and shell. They have been working with Silver sun for 37 years. Marvin was in Olson’s English class before she went into the Native American business.

They each learned to make heishi from their parents.Lillie’s parents specialized in small, thin beads and when they were married they taught each other how you make the different styling.

They said that their favorite part of the job is designing jewlery and trying new materials. Attention to both beauty and quality has earned them blue and red ribbions at the New Mexico State Fair and Santa Fe Indian Market. “Where trying to make something contemporary and still conform to the framework of our traditional ways,” Marvin says. “Their is an idea behind everything” For example, turquoise means life. In my necklaces with turquoise, that piece is like life.”

Marvin and Lillie raise their 5 older children traditionally, but only a daughter is getting into the craft. Marvin and Lillie work out of thier home in the Santa Domingo Pueblo in northern New Mexico. Marvin is also very active in the Santa Domingo Trible Council. In their spare time, Marvin enjoys farming corn, chili, and other vegetables, and let’s not for get bowling. Lillie teaches canvas crafting to the elders and traditional food making to the women and girls of her tribe. Very few Santa Domingo families make their own turquoise and heishe.