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Charlene Sanchez Reano
SAN FELIPE PUEBLO/SANTO DOMINGO PUEBLO

San Felipe Pueblo is hidden. Oh, you can find it on a map and it is easily accessible off Highway 25 which runs between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. But you are not invited to visit. The residents of San Felipe prefer their solitude and secrets. San Felipe Pueblo remains one of the most conservative of the tribal governments.

In contrast, Santo Domingo Pueblo, has a long history of welcoming visitors. Nestled along the Rio Grande River, Santo Domingo Pueblo gives the appearance of growing organically from the ground: hard-packed earth wanders through the labyrinth of sun-baked adobe homes, stacked and terraced like a honeycomb. The village harkens back to the structures built by their ancestors, the Anasazi--architects of the great city in Chaco Canyon and also the unfathomable cliff dwellings.

Also inherited from the Anasazi is the Dominguans' exceptional skill in their intricate work with turquoise. Found within the prehistoric ruins, are turquoise bead necklaces and shell pendants set with beautiful mosaics of turquoise and shell. Today, the Dominguans are known for the finest hand-ground necklaces--called heishi--made of turquoise and other stones. And they continue the historic tradition of intricate mosaic patterns.

CHARLENE REANO, of San Felipe, married into the Reano family, Santo Dominguans well known for their inlay work. Charlene's inlaid earrings and bracelets have the appearance of intricate, colorful tiles--a mosaic of rich color and pattern.

The type of inlay work created by Charlene and her in-laws has a revered history dating back to their Anasazi ancestors. Stunning earrings and pendants have been unearthed from ancient dwellings--extraordinary pieces made by patient hands one thousand years ago.

Charlene says, "My inspiration stems from the jewelry worn during the traditional dances."

Charlene's intricate work has been recognized with ribbons and awards at Eight Northern Pueblo and the prestigious Santa Fe Indian Market, including winning Best in Category and Best in Division.