Native American artists look to their heritage to cope with the pandemic.

For over 30 years, Marvin and Frances Martinez have risen with the sun to drive from their home at the San Idlefonso Pueblo New Mexico to the centuries-old Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe.

They arrive early to snag a prime spot beneath the rough-hewed wooden beams of the portal, a colonnade where they sell pottery blackened by blue-smoke that recalls the legacy of Maria Martinez, the grande dame of Native American pottery and Mr. Martinez's great-grandmother.

They are among the 70 or so Native American artisans gathering here to earn a living, artfully arranging to their silver and turquoise jewelry, polychrome pots, ubiquitous 

As the pandemic wreaks havoc on millions of lives, it has had a devastating impact on the livelihoods of Native American artists and artisans, who are collectively responding with a creative resolve born from centuries of adversity.

Now Mexico's 23-tribal communities account for almost 60 percent of reported cases and half the deaths, though they make up just 11 percent of the state's population.

Last month, Indian Market in Santa Fe, the country's oldest and most competitive market, announced that it would be going virtual this August, spawning ripples of anxiety among artists untutored in e-commerce living in isolated areas with little or no Internet connectivity.

''Most Native artists rely heavily on the principal markets as an economic lifeline,'' said Richard West, Jr., president and chief executive of the Autry Museum of American West in Los Angeles. ''To have it all come crashing down is really tough.''

Along with the Heard Museum in Phoenix and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, the Autry hosts a major market, still scheduled for November.

For Jewelry makers like Ryes and Farrell Pacheco, residents of Kewa Pueblo [Santo Domingo]  between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, internet connectivity is ''a 2.a.m. to 4 a.m.thing.

In this place of red earth and blue sky, the couple make the intricate mosaic inlay jewelry for which their pueblo is justly famous. They depend on Indian Market for half their income : Lately they have been bartering jewelry for potatoes, flour and even livestock.

They spend much of the year crafting inventory, reserving their finest turquoise, coral, silver and spiny oyster shells. ''We don't invest in stocks,'' Ms. Pacheco explained. ''Our stocks are our supplies.''

The World Students Society thanks author Patricia Leigh Brown.


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