John Gonzales was born to Lorenzo Gonzales and Delores NaQuayoma in 1955. That was about the same time that their family was chosen by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to be relocated to a large Eastern city. The intent was to have them all melt into the great American melting pot. The effort failed and they all eventually ended up back at San Ildefonso years later.
John decided he would excel in school in the outside world. He earned scholarships to Stanford, where he earned his BA, and MIT, where he earned his Masters Degree in City Planning. Then he worked for a couple years at the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council and consulted at San Ildefonso. From 1986 to 1989 he was the Developer and Manager of the All Indian Pueblo Council. In 1987 he was also elected as President of the National Congress of American Indians. In 1989 he worked with Manuel Lujan, Secretary of the Interior, in establishing the National Indian Gaming Commission. In 1991 he returned to San Ildefonso and became a potter.
John earned the Quail Run Fellowship from SWAIA at the 1994 Santa Fe Indian Market. He also earned a First Place award for a piece decorated with sgraffito and stone or metal.
Events in 1995 led John to become involved with the Board of Directors of the Santa Fe Indian Market. He served as Chairman in 1997. In 1998 he was inducted into the Stanford University American Indian Hall of Fame.