Stanford Student Keeps His Two Lives in Balance

Cochiti Man Aims To Help Pueblo

Date August 20, 2008 at 10:00 PM

Categories Local News & Sports


The perspiring, bare-chested young man in the embroidered dance kilt, bedecked with spruce twigs and feathers, strode in his moccasins into the family living room at Cochiti Pueblo. Red Dakota CrazyHorse, called Waddie as a diminutive of his Keresan name Wadema, had come home from Stanford University in time for the pueblo€™s annual feast day. He€™s been dancing this corn dance since he was 5 years old, and he has no plans to stop now.

Waddie CrazyHorse, 19, has his feet in two worlds these days, and he€™s keeping his balance just fine, thank you very much. A junior this fall at Stanford, Waddie is the son of Cippy CrazyHorse, renowned silver artist and former pueblo governor, and Sue Crazy-Horse, his non-Indian mother and teacher from back East who€™s created a lasting legacy with Cochiti€™s Trailblazers 4-H Club, and the grandson of distinguished silversmith Joe H. Quintana and his wife, designer Teresita Quintana.

With roots like these, it€™s no wonder that the third generation is blooming. Waddie will be showing and selling his silver jewelry in the museum shop of the Palace of the Governors at Indian Market on Saturday.

His father€™s booth is right down the portal of the Palace.

€œHe€™ll be close enough that we can bug him,€ his mom said with a laugh.

Waddie had another perspective on the proximity: €œIt€™s close enough that they can direct people to my show.€

Newest generation

Waddie CrazyHorse represents the newest age bracket of serious artists in Indian Country €” young people blessed with opportunities and the smarts to take advantage of them.

Attending Stanford on a Gates Millennium Scholarship, Waddie also had the alacrity to apply for, and take, a Chappell Longee Grant for the summer. The $5,000 grants are awarded to second-semester sophomores for in-depth research projects in the humanities, arts and social sciences. Twenty-three sophomores got Longee grants at Stanford.

Waddie€™s proposed project, approved by faculty advisor Michael Wilcox, was to research the use of traditional jewelrymaking techniques as applied to innovative contemporary design. Specifically, Waddie proposed to work with a jeweler who actually melted silver ingots in the traditional way.

Guess who makes his jewelry the old-fashioned way? No particular points for guessing, oh, say, Cippy CrazyHorse?

€œWhen he came home with a grant that would pay him to study with his father €” which he€™d be doing anyway €” we decided to stop worrying about whether Waddie knew how to maneuver in the mainstream world,€ Sue commented dryly.

Not that it€™s found money. Waddie has used the grant to upgrade materials and tools, and make more innovative pieces. And his father is no pushover as a teacher. For the first three years he studied with Cippy €” summers when he was in high school €” Waddie wasn€™t allowed to touch a tool, he said.

€œI just sat and observed,€ he said. €œOnly in the summer of my junior year did I start making things.€

Education was key

Those high school years were tough ones, but they were the key that opened the door to Waddie€™s opportunities, Sue said. After attending the pueblo school, Waddie wasn€™t fulfilling his promise in junior high, his parents decided.

€œMy mom home schooled me my eighth-grade year,€ he said. €œAt the end of the term, we looked at each other and said, €˜We can€™t do this another four years.€™ So we started looking for schools.€

Checking out private schools in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe, Waddie was struck by the small classes and comprehensive approach of the block curriculum at the Waldorf School in the capital city. Family does what it must €” for the next four years, he rose at dawn, ate a quick breakfast and rode to Santa Fe with his aunt and uncle, Charlene and Philip Quintana. The Quintanas, who are on the faculty of Santa Fe Indian School, would drop Waddie at the Waldorf School 40 minutes before classes. He spent a lot of time in the library.

€œIt is a really art-oriented school, and everybody has to learn a musical instrument. I learned the marimba,€ Waddie said.

That stood him in good stead as a freshman at Stanford. For the frosh talent show, he taught a new Jewish friend a few notes, and the pair took third place as the Marimba Kids. He parlayed his newfound prominence into a run for the student Senate as a second-semester freshman.

€œWe printed up fliers and everything,€ Waddie said. €œI had a whole platform €” more student parking, expanding access to the graduate faculty, that sort of thing.€

He served on the Senate€™s appropriations committee and said the experience was invaluable.

€œYou learn how to look at everything from other people€™s perspectives, how to negotiate, how to compromise,€ he said.

A spring trip to Maui to work with native Hawaiians also gave him a new outlook.

€œThey have some of the same issues our native people do,€ he observed.

This past semester, he and four other would-be juniors ran as a five-person slate for junior class president.

€œOur premise was that junior year is when people are spending time abroad (Waddie will be studying German in Berlin this winter), so this way, there would always be one or two presidents on campus to deal with things,€ he said.

The unusual approach worked €” Waddie CrazyHorse is one of five junior class presidents at Stanford now.

Does he ever look around at college and think, €œHow did a kid from Cochiti Pueblo get here?€

€œOh, yeah,€ he said. €œI€™m pretty sure my brother had something to do with it.€

Waddie isn€™t the only one who believes a little divine intervention has blessed him. Moses CrazyHorse, several years older than Waddie, died in a car crash when he was 19 and Waddie was 10.

€œFrom the moment Moses hit heaven, things just started opening up for Waddie,€ Sue said matter-of-factly. €œI really think Waddie has an angel looking out for him.€

Angelic attention or not, Waddie CrazyHorse is working hard to take advantage of the opportunities he€™s been given. He€™s majoring in product design, but anticipates getting a graduate degree in environmental sciences. He hopes to use the two fields to design the next generation of sustainable energy systems.

€œIt really fits being Native American,€ he said. €œI€™d like to try to bring that system to my tribe, to heat, cool and run their homes and to sell energy to bring income to the tribe from something other than a casino. I want to be an advocate for Native American issues and to help bring a quality life to the people on reservations.€

If You Go

WHAT: The 87th annual Santa Fe Indian Market, with more than 1,200 artists from about 100 tribes showing goods at more than 600 booths, entertainment on the Plaza stage, a book tent and food booths.
WHEN: 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, serious buyers show up much earlier than the official start time; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
WHERE: On the Santa Fe Plaza and nearby streets.
PARKING: Park and ride from the Santa Fe Place mall near JC Penney and from behind the Albertsons on Guadalupe Street in DeVargas Center.