Tohono O'odham Potters in Bisbee, Arizona 1890-1920

This thesis will discuss Tohono O'odham women potters in Southeastern Arizona and the impact they had on local economies, specifically in the areas of Tombstone and Bisbee, Arizona. The purpose of this project is to explore their roles in the economic development of border town communities particularly extractive capitalistic industries; race relations in Southern Arizona; and the changing gender roles of Tohono O'odham women in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Tombstone and Bisbee are Southern Arizona communities established by mining industries in the late 1800s. The establishment of these mines attracted people from across the United States and around the world. Tohono O'odham women traveled to these areas from as far away as the Tucson Valley, a distance of over 100 miles. They were drawn to Tombstone and Bisbee not for mining work, but to sell clay water jars to the townspeople. In Tombstone, these Tohono O'odham potters had such an impact on the local economy the City Council endeavored to impose a peddler's license upon them. In Bisbee, their clay water jars served as a temporary water system from the 1890s to approximately 1914.


Reuben Naranjo Jr.


Tom Holm





Arizona State Museum: 

M9791 N37t
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences