Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Santa Fe's Portal Program

It's barely 10 a.m. and dozens of people have already reached the portal at Santa Fe's Palace of the Governors. Individual artisans offer everything from sterling and turquoise bracelets to hand-beaded necklaces, one-of-a-kind sand paintings, and hand thrown pottery. Some artisans make their living at the portal, while others supplement a primary income. Customers arrive with cash and checkbooks in hand - no credit cards allowed.

This is the Portal Native American Artisans Program where upwards of 60 artisans display their exquisite wares on the building's front sidewalk, 360 days per year. More than 900 certified program members from 41 pueblos, tribes, chapters and villages scattered throughout New Mexico and parts of Arizona, participate in a longstanding lottery system for the honor of selling here each day.

And, whether you purchase a clay figure whose paint color comes from spinach, a turquoise-encrusted bola tie, or a refrigerator magnet decorated with a sun god made from sand, each item is guaranteed authentic. Every participant in the portal program follows strict artistic guidelines and, most importantly, signs their work.

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