Pots are Rocks: About the Clay
Clay is magic and so plain. It’s one of the most abundant materials on earth’s surface. Painter turned scientist, Cairns-Smith, theorized that life on earth started as clay crystals. Clay is elastic, plastic, bonds to water, and was used in humanity's first writing and record keeping. As ceramic it’s in space ships, bricks, toilets, electric sockets, mugs, etc. There’s probably not a day that you don’t use clay and ceramics.
I gather clays in the manner I was taught by Clarence Cruz in his Pueblo Pottery course. I ask permission from the land, make an offering in reciprocity, and pray that what we’ll make together will help to bring health and healing to the land, it’s people, my people, all others who’ve migrated to this place. I gather clays from the lands I was raised with in Nuwu (Southern Paiute) territory (Washington County, Utah). This clay came into being as rock fell into decay. When I apply compression and extreme heat to the clay it turns back into stone as ceramic (which is why i say “pots are rocks”).
My people, Utah-Mormons, migrated to these lands to escape religious persecution in the US and Europe. As they settled here they diverted Nuwu waters to irrigate crops and sent their cows to overgraze the grasses. This caused desertification on the land and genocide on the Nuwu.
Because of this, all objects that I make with these clays will have a settler-tax added to their cost. This tax will be sent, with no-strings attached, to the See’Veets Eng (Shivwits) band of Nuwu, from whose land this clay was gathered.
I carry mixed feelings about gathering this clay. My settler ancestors have been in this place for seven-generations and I feel deep connections to this land (connections of a complicated mix of trauma and healing).
Nuwu people have been here since time immemorial. They are indigenous to it. Over these millennia their ancestors built Pueblos, pottery, baskets, etc. They planted, grew, and gathered their food from plants and hunted animals that fed these plants that fed on the sun and the minerals in the soils.
Despite all the work of the settler-colonial project to white-out the Indigenous peoples they are still here. They protect what remains of the earth’s biodiversity. They are who I follow in my work toward liberation and justice for people, animals, and land. (I suggest following
@therednation.southwest, @puebloactionalliance, @ndncollective, @riseindigenous, @seedingsovereignty, @nuwuart, @lylajune, and to find indigenous-led orgs in your area)