Capital letters spelling DALANGYAWMA identify the sterling overlay jewelry produced by Hopi/Navajo silversmith Ramon Dalangyawma. Born Ramon Albert, Jr. at the Grand Canyon Village, January 26, 1954, Ramon was raised by his grandparents, and, aunts in the pueblo at Hotevilla, Arizona. In his formative years, Ramon worked the family five acre farm growing corn, beans and squash. He vividly remembers the time spent checking the plants daily for worms, and the unmistakable aroma of home made piki bread. As an initiated member of the Hopi Kachina Society, responsible for tending his five acre field, hauling the family water (five gallons per bucket, sometimes hauling twobuckets per day), one wonders where he finds time to make jewelry.
Ramon moved from the pueblo to study at the IAIA school in Santa Fe for two years, transferring to Phoenix Indian High School high school, where he graduated in 1972. After high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was promoted from Private to Corporal taking his training at the Communications school in Twenty Nine Palms, California. He says that President Nixon is his “big hero” because it was his decision to begin the withdrawal of troops from Viet Nam that kept him from being shipped overseas as a Field Radio Operator. Ramon completed a 12 month tour on Okinawa, in the pacific, and after the military, he worked for a short time with the Bureau of IndianAffairs in Tuba City.
Ramon returned to Hotevilla in 1978 and began Silver work at the Hopi Arts and Crafts center. Working in copper, brass, and bronze, he signed his earliest work with stylized initials RA. (Ramon Albert) Many of Ramon’s works went unsold because they lacked a distinguishable Hopi surname. Like his father before him, Ramon was named after the son of Lorenzo Hubbell, who owned and operated the New Oraibi Trading Post. His grandmother gave Ramon Albert, Jr. the Hopi name Dalangyawma, which he has adopted as his hallmark. Ramon sells most of his jewelry at Indian art and craft fairs.
Ramon’s designs often reflect his Hopi culture. Designs such as clouds, thunderbolts, and rain reflect the importance of weather in an area where there is no irrigation. Clan symbols, such as the bear, spider, and antelope, mixed with prayer feathers, kachinas, Kokopelli and corn are all combined in Ramon’s work. Ramon dislikes doing the smaller pieces not because of limited space for his hallmark, but because holding and cutting small pieces of silver is difficult and tedious. He prefers to work on larger items.