Esther Martinez, nonagenarian Tewa linguist, 2008 honor

For more on the remarkable Ms Martinez see the earlier post

Esther Martinez: ‘A way to honor her spirit’ Historical roadside marker celebrates Tewa linguist and renowned storyteller
11/8/2008 – 11/9/08
OHKAY OWINGEH — New Mexico honored Ohkay Owingeh storyteller and Tewa linguist Esther Martinez Blue Water (P’oe Tsáwä) on Saturday by unveiling a new roadside marker at the pueblo north of Española.

“It is an honor to have a marker that recognizes her contributions to her pueblo and to others,” said Martinez, speaking to the large crowd gathered at the site along N.M. 68. “She was a person steadfast to the end.”

The wooden marker is the second of 55 that will be installed around the state in recognition of influential New Mexico women. .. The marker program was conceived by three women — Pat French, Beverly Duran and Alexis Girard. They created the New Mexico Historic Women Marker Initiative and lobbied the Legislature to fund the project.

“As we drove around the state, we realized all the historic markers up and down the road were all for men,” French said Saturday as she waited for the cutting of a silver ribbon around Martinez’s marker. “This is to create a better balance.”

Martinez, born in 1912, was known as an exceptional storyteller. Her family said she could use almost anything as the source of a good yarn, even everyday events. “My mother’s stories had such life and character,” daughter Josephine Binford said with a chuckle. “You could see what she described. When she spoke, it was like she cast a spell.”

… Martinez received many national honors for her work in preserving the language and stories of her people. She taught Tewa in the Ohkay Owingeh (formerly San Juan Pueblo) schools for years and created a Tewa dictionary. She traveled widely to share stories with non-Pueblo people. She received the Teacher of the Year award from the National Council of American Indians in 1997 and a year later was given the Governor’s Award for Excellence.

In 2006, Martinez was named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.


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1 Response to “Esther Martinez, nonagenarian Tewa linguist, 2008 honor”


  1. 1 vuee 2008 November 13 at 6:34 pm

    Dixon Diary’s Flickr set Esther Martinez has a group of photos taken during the dedication.


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