Fred Peshlakai (1896-1974) Biography
Fred Peshlakai is the bridge between the early Navajo silversmiths of the 19th century and the Native modernists of the mid 20th century. He was born at Crystal, NM, the son of Slender Maker of Silver who had learned silverwork from Atsidi Chon, one of the first Navajo silversmiths. He apprenticed with his father until the elder’s failing eyesight forced him to stop working.
Peshlakai worked briefly at Maisels Indian Trading Post in Albuquerque before moving on to temporary jobs such as cowboying and acting. Returning to silversmithing, he opened a shop on Olvera Street in Los Angeles where he worked for nearly 20 years. His brother, Frank, worked for him there for several years. In 1950 Peshlakai had a shop at Hotel Escalante in Cedar City, UT. After that time his jewelry production decreased.
Peshalakai’s work is widely collected because of his innovative designs and use of high quality stones.