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This profile was last updated on 1/12/16  and contains information from public web pages.

Dan Simplicio Jr.

Wrong Dan Simplicio Jr.?

Cultural Specialist

Phone: (970) ***-****  HQ Phone
Local Address:  Colorado , United States
Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
23390 Road K
Cortez , Colorado 81321
United States

Company Description: Crow Canyon has been conducting nationally recognized archaeological research and public education programs since 1983. Nearly 3,000 fourth-through 12th-grade...   more

Employment History

Board Memberships and Affiliations

  • Member
    The Zuni
  • Member
    Zuni Tribal Council
37 Total References
Web References
Staff - Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, 12 Jan 2016 [cached]
Dan Simplicio Cultural Specialist
Dan Simplicio Cultural Specialist
Research Staff, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, 17 July 2014 [cached]
Dan Simplicio
Laboratory Education Coordinator
Jim Mimiaga/Cortez Journal ..., 19 Jan 2015 [cached]
Jim Mimiaga/Cortez Journal Zuni artist Dan Simplicio specializes in turquoise jewelry.
Jim Mimiaga/Cortez Journal Zuni artist Dan Simplicio specializes in turquoise jewelry.
For the Zuni tribe, turquoise has deep cultural and artistic importance.
The minerals vibrant hues of blue, green, and aqua are used in ceremonies and to make stunning jewelry known around the world.
Dan Simplicio Jr., a Zuni artist and archaeologist who works for Crow Canyon, shared some of the backstory of the turquoise tradition during a presentation put on by the Hisatsinom Chapter last week.
Turquoise comes from the cooking of various elements of Mother Earth, he said, a process that is also a foundation of the Zuni way of life.
Our mindset is we are a raw-essence, and as we move through life we also become cooked, he said. Turquoise is a powerful element that stabilizes our lives.
Turquoise stones placed before a building is constructed are seen as roots for the structure. Simplicio adds that Zuni-style construction does not use scaffolding or levels, rather brick layers straddle the wall, moving backwards as they add hewed stones by eye.
The Zuni have ancestral ties to the Puebloan people who thrived in the Four Corners a millennia ago. At the Dillard site being excavated by Crow Canyon at Indian Camp Ranch, turquoise has been found.
It was probably used for ritual ceremonies because of the way it was shaped, Simplicio said. It is a very good find for the Basketmaker site there.
Simplicio is an accomplished jeweler specializing in turquoise set in silver. He learned the trade from his dad, Dan Simplicio Sr., a world renown turquoise and silversmithing artist who has passed on in 1970.
We only have four of his pieces, he said. One is valued at $60,000.
Educators - Crow Canyon Archaeological Center [cached]
Donna Pino (Santa Ana) and Dan Simplicio (Zuni) serve as the American Indian scholars.
Dan Simplicio Dan Simplicio is currently the cultural specialist in the American Indian Initiatives Department at Crow Canyon. Simplicio has wide-ranging experience in the Southwest and as an American Indian scholar. He is a member of the Zuni Pueblo and has served his community as a tribal councilman, educator, cultural resource specialist, and archaeologist. For a number of years he has been the American Indian scholar on many of Crow Canyon's Cultural Explorations educational travel programs in the Southwest. He has also worked as the laboratory education coordinator at Crow Canyon.
Gallup Journey » West by Southwest, 4 June 2012 [cached]
Dan Simplicio Sr. was a relative of Bruce’s and they sometimes collaborated.  Some of the Zunies’ patterns have survived, though most are lost. Dorothy says that some of the sketches were done for them by another great Zuni artist, Anthony Edaaki, including the one for the magnificent eagle dancer.
Older jewelers in the village don’t think Leekity made anywhere near all the pieces attributed to him and similar pieces have been attributed to everyone from Old Man Leekya, to Dan Simplicio, to several modern stone workers.
Wayne Russell said Lookout Point was once owned by the Kelseys of Zuni, then his mother Alma Sue Watson and her husband Dan ran the place until Dan hit the road. Leroy Atkinson picked up the place for a song and had Alma Sue and her son run it for him.
Zuni Silversmith Dan Simplicio Sr.: Challenging Tradition
Dan Simplicio Sr. with casting
Simplicio came of age in an era when there were many innovators. Zuni jewelry was still feeling its way, and creative juices were flowing. Leekya Deyuse was experimenting with setting carved stone in silver jewelry; Leo Poblano was creating fine mosaic inlay; Bryant Waatsa was popularizing a style of needlepoint that would become “Zuni Jewelry†to the outside world; and Juan De Dios was perfecting technique for his generation.
The De Dios style involves silver-mounted stones cantilevered out from the bracelet base, which gives his work a very distinctive look and makes the turquoise the leading element. De Dios apprenticed his nephew Dan along with others who would become famous jewelers of the period.
Dan Simplicio began silversmithing with primitive techniques and limited tools, factors his son thinks contributed to his creativity. “He made his own plate, drew his own wire, everything was done by hand,†says Dan Jr. who is also a metalworker and fine fetish carver.
Simplicio carved and tempered his own stamps from scrap steel. There were swaging troughs cut into his hand-made anvil to make triangle and half-round wire. One of his leaf stamps became almost a signature element of his work. He said later he got the idea for the distinctive leaf from his time in Europe during the war. He was fascinated by the Roman laurel leaf wreaths given to heroes of battles.
To make wire he beat a lump of silver into a thick pencil â€" annealed it to make it soft, and then drew it through a steel plate with a series of graduated holes. The silver had to be softened again for each step of the drawing process. Every piece he created was the result of many, many hours of labor.
Then Dan combined the red with quality nuggets and his distinctive silver leaves. The result was pure Dan Simplicio and is still easily recognized. Other Zunis like Robert Leekya and Chester Mahooty were influenced by this technique. Leekya is still known for his large nugget sets.
Simplicio is best known for these free-form pieces, but he worked in pretty much every technique of his day. He was an influential tufa caster and some of his best jewelry had a cast base. Though he mined his own tufa â€" a fine-grained volcanic ash stone â€" near the village of Zuni, he would put more than one design on a block, or carve both sides.
“He had a mine on the north edge of the reservation,†says his son. “It was small and it was destroyed when they built the new road up the hill.â€Â There are several places south of Gallup where good tufa is found.
Though casting heavy silver is considered a Navajo thing, Simplicio’s work was distinctively Zuni for the most part. Many of his existing molds show variations of a lacy flower design found on pottery. He also used some prehistoric forms taken from rock art. Dan Jr. has a charming piece that is either a frog or horny toad.
Like many Native Americans of his generation, Simplicio had at least two birthdays of record: Aug 10, 1911, or maybe 1917. His father was known as Old Man Simplicio and Dan doesn’t know his grandmother’s name. Daniel’s sister, Ruth Calavaza was photographed by Burton Frasher and one of her iconic images, distributed as photo postcards, shows her working on jewelry. Another shows her in traditional costume, taking bread from an outdoor oven.
Dan Simplicio in World War II
When Dan enlisted in World War II, he was inducted with a lot of Gallup men, including a number of Slavs. They bonded in the service and he wrote letters home for the men who were not literate in English. He won a bronze star with oak cluster for rescuing a number of fellow soldiers under heavy fire, dragging them back to safety one at a time.
Eventually he suffered a terrific wound to his thigh. The Germans were experimenting with metal-clad wooden bullets. It might have been a lead-saving move, but there was also the element of fragmentation. The wooden bullets splintered on impact, creating a messy, dirty wound â€" an early form of biological warfare.
Daniel sat alone in a foxhole for three days with nothing to eat or drink. Though it started to rain, the water he was lying in was too muddy and contaminated with his blood for him to drink. He said later he just kept reciting Hail Marys and Our Fathers. Dan was pretty well out of blood when he was finally picked up.
Simplicio built himself a stone house in Zuni. “Away from the restrictions of living with the wife’s family, many Zunis found the freedom seductive,†says his son. The Simplicio house became a party zone. Dan Jr. believes the switch to the Anglo type of family unit contributed to alcohol use among the Zuni and other Southwestern tribes. The war had also been a large factor.
Weirdly, the leg kept bothering Dan, reinfecting often. “I remember seeing him lance the wound himself. I was just a kid and it was terrible,â€Â  recalls his son. In 1970 the bullet hole took a hard blow in a scuffle. Dan was taken to the hospital but a blood clot ended his life. Dan Jr. was only thirteen. His mother, Esther Romancito survived her husband by just one year. Dan Jr. and his siblings spent the next years in Albuquerque.
Dan Simplicio has carved his niche in the history of Southwestern Native jewelry and his contribution isn’t likely to be forgotten. Fortunately, his distinctive work has found its way into museum collections across America and Europe.
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