Blackfoot silversmith bringing intricate Navajo craft back to the territory

Albertine Crow Shoe is in New Mexico working on putting a Blackfoot spin on the art

A Piikani Nation silversmith is hoping to bring a different form of the art to Blackfoot territory.

She is currently in New Mexico exploring Navajo metalworking traditions from a Blackfoot perspective.

When Albertine Crow Shoe was artist in residence at Calgary’s Glenbow Museum she had the chance to go through Blackfoot artifacts.

What she found was mostly intricate beading and quillwork.

“We have a lot of amazing craftspeople who are beaders and work with their hands. But I only found one piece of metalwork and it was made out of tin,” said Crow Shoe, who may be the only Blackfoot silversmith in Canada.

Some of silversmith Albertine Crow Shoe’s artistic work. Supplied photo

She’s been a full-time jeweler since 2011.

“We have a lot of stories, we have a lot of our traditions and things that we need to preserve, and we need to pass on also that can be told in the form of metalwork, silversmith.”

Crow Shoe spoke with APTN News from Gallup, New Mexico – a place famous for its Navajo metalwork – where she is expanding her knowledge of the craft with the well-known Navajo silversmith Lyndon Tsosie.

“Silversmithing among Navajos is prevalent,” said Tsosie. “You have the basic bench jeweler or kitchen table jeweler where they set up shop on their kitchen table or dining room table and they make jewelry.”

An example of Crow Shoe’s jewelry. Supplied photo

Crow Shoe found a passion for metalwork while taking classes in Calgary.

A grant from the Canada Council for the Arts brought her to New Mexico.

“I wanted to be able to explore Navajo silver work from a Blackfoot perspective, from our traditions, from what we believe in and adapt that into a metal form.”

Crow Shoe says she now has a responsibility to take an artform from New Mexico – and make it prevalent in Blackfoot territory.

“I can contribute to keeping our ways of knowing and our ways of what we believe in. Keeping those alive and teaching people and teaching those who are coming after us.”

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