Mark Chee (1914-1981) Biography

Navajo artist, Mark Chee is among the earliest southwest silversmiths. Mark Chee is known for traditional stamp work and high quality stone settings in unusually heavy silver. He was born in Lukachukai, Arizona around 1900 and was sent to government school at Fort Defiance (a United States government practice during that time) from the age of 10 to the 11thgrade. He is the elder brother of Joe Chee. 

He wasactive during the 1930s through ‘60s. He specialized in heavy silver in old style designs. He began polishing silver in Julius Gans’ Southwest Art and Crafts shop in Santa Fe for $5.00 a week. He then bought a few tools and used them all his life. He quickly became an accomplished silversmith and was hired as a bench smith at Frank Patania’s Thunderbird Shop and later at Al Packard’s shop on the Santa Fe Plaza. He was also a benchsmith for the Wooden Indian at Embudo, New Mexico. 

His hallmark is a stamp of a bird with his last name in the body in Gothic print. There are several versions of this mark but rather than being a separate stamp they may be due to the angle of his strike.