Lena Charlie


Lena Charlie was a Hopi potter born around 1888 and passing away in 1978. She was an active potter from 1933 to 1961. Her history is pretty sketchy but she is related to Nampeyo of Hano either as a granddaughter or a niece (Arizona State Museum classifies her as a "clan niece"). One source says Lena was the daughter of Nampeyo's first son (Qoo-ma-lets-tewa - Mad Bear) who died during the worldwide flu pandemic in 1918. Another source says Lena was a sister of Irene and Hazel Shupla. Either way, Lena married her second husband (Victor Charlie) in 1928 when she was perhaps 20 years old and that's where the "Charlie" in her name came from.

It is said that as Nampeyo's eyesight was declining she would take her pots to Lena for painting if neither Annie (Healing) nor Fannie (Nampeyo) was available.

Sunbeam David was Lena's son. His son, Neal David, is a noted katsina carver.

Lena was of the Hopi-Tewa Kachina/Parrot Clan and usually marked her works with an ear-of-corn symbol. She was often known as "Corn Woman."

Bird element, corn and geometric design on a polychrome lamp
Polychrome lamp with bird element, corn and geometric design
17.75 in H by 12.5 in Dia
Measurement includes lamp shade
Circa 1950

Hopi Potters