Victor Coochwytewa (1922-2011) Biography

Coochwytewa is recognized as one of the master of Hopi silver and gold overlay jewelry.  He was born at Shungopavi at Second Mesa and started making jewelry in 1940 with Paul Saufkie.  After service in the South Pacific during World War II, he returned to Hopi enrolling in the jewelry making course for veterans taught by Paul Saufkie and Fred Kabotie.  Coochwytewa became one of the most successful of the second generation of overlay artists, winning prizes at Museum of Northern Arizona, Heard Museum, Santa Fe Indian Market and many other shows.  In 1994 he was recognized by the state of Arizona as an “Arizona Indian Living Treasure.”  Success did not distract Coochwytewa from life as a traditional Hopi.  He tended his cornfields every day, reserving afternoons for jewelry, and said that corn was his work and jewelry was his hobby.  He probably spent as much time on his religious duties as on his other activities, and was a religious and cultural leader most of his life.  He retired from jewelry making in 2006.