Below is a list of Native American (and Mata Ortiz) ceramic artists whose creations I have come across. The list will never be complete as excellent new artists are popping up all the time. I don't know that I will ever be able to post any kind of bio information about most of the people in the list as most Native Americans (and Mata Ortiz potters) prefer to live quiet, private lives. For some, there is only a list of accomplishments as recognized by the outside world. A few have become famous enough that thick coffee-table books have been published about them. But even the famous remain "salt of the earth."
Part of my effort in this site is to tie in what biographical info I can find with photos of some of the creations of the individual artists. A side effect of that is the exposure of a multitude of traditional and contemporary shapes and designs. Up until the early 1900's, no one signed their name on their pieces. Everyone had a little touch they added to their work and, in the pueblo setting, everyone could see who made what. In those days, too, the potters all worked together. No one person did everything, every aspect of the work was shared and they all worked side by side. The making of pottery was the making of community. These days the making of pottery is the making of family, with signatures added for the benefit of the outside world. Today's potters don't make much pottery for themselves, everything is oriented toward bringing in cash from the outside world.
The great Hopi-Tewa potter Nampeyo made a lot pottery. She never signed a single piece. After she went blind her daughter Fannie and granddaughter Daisy painted for her. They signed her name. But Nampeyo learned to make pottery in the old way and her most obvious trademark, the one her neighbors had recognized since she was a teenager, was the addition of an extra coil around the rims of her pots. She added that extra coil until the day she stopped making pottery. She added it for utilitarian purposes, not because it was her "signature." That extra coil made the rim stronger, more durable. It was an innovation from more than 300 years before her time. She learned it from a broken piece of pottery she picked up from the ground. Her ability to create and decorate pottery like it was made 300 years ago in Sikyatki or Awatovi or Payupki is why archaeologist J. Walter Fewkes worked so hard to make her creations subordinate to his work as an "ethnographer."
The check for that extra coil is still part of determining provenance for older pieces of Nampeyo's, the many she painted herself. I've also seen fingers stuck inside the rim to feel for the placement of her fingers as she turned the piece in her hands while making it. Another element checked for are small embellishments in the design, and places where it's not quite in balance: Nampeyo was a master of that as she "spoke" the design vocabulary she worked with. Among Native American potters, that fluency in the vocabulary seems to have passed on with the coming of signatures.
Does any of this knowledge or effort make me an expert? Absolutely not. The more I learn the more I know there is to learn. My journey has hardly begun, I'm still just a junior assistant trainee intern... But I do get a close-up view of many beautiful creations. In all of this, I am deeply indebted to the good people at Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery: If you have questions, they're the folks to ask.
As long as the list below is, many of the artists in the list also have multiple pages attached to them.