Leekya Deyuse (Leekya) (1889-1966)
In 1942, John Adair, author of the classic study The Navajo and
Pueblo Silversmiths, described Leekya Deyuse and Teddy Weahkee as
Zuni's "most expert turquoise-workers." Leekya is perhaps
the best known of all Zuni fetish carvers and his work garners the
highest prices. Like Weahkee, he participated in the archaeological
dig at Hawikuh (1917-1923) where he gained first-hand knowledge
of pre-contact Zuni carving. Leekya worked with a number of traders,
but his relationship with C. G. Wallace was probably the most productive.
Most of Leekya's pieces were produced entirely with hand tools;
however, in his later years he adopted electrical tools.
Leekya crafted stone tab and nugget necklaces, small fetishes that
traders strung into single and multi-strand necklaces, and larger
free-standing fetishes. Many of his fetish carvings were set into
the tops of silver boxes crafted by Navajo artists in traders' employ.
Leekya sometimes collaborated with other Zuni artists. Among his
collaborators were Dan Simplicio, Sr.
Leekya had seven children with wife Juanita Cooeyate, many of whom
have become well-known jewelers and/or carvers. Sons Francis, Robert
and Rodger and daughters Sarah and Alice achieved recognition, as
have many of their own children.
Deyuse (Zuni) and John Silver (Navajo)
Silver Box with Tortoise Fetish
silver box (Navajo silverwork) with carved turquoise tortoise fetish
on lid (Zuni fetish carving)
4.25 in. wide x 8 in. long
Eight-Strand, 124-Figure Fetish Necklace
Turquoise, jet, coral, abalone, silver
28.5 in. long
serpentine, turquoise, silver, coral, heishe, cotton
36 in. long
Turquoise Leaf Group
4.75 in. high x 4.5 in. wide
Adair, John. The Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths. Norman, Okla.: University
of Oklahoma Press, 1944, p. 148.
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KC Publications, 1966.
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Ltd., 1992, p. 13.
Bauver, Robert. Masterworks and Eccentricities: The Druckman Collection.
Pittsburgh, Pa.: Four Winds Publishing, 2002, p. 60-66.
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N.Mex.: Treasure Chest Publications, 1976, front cover, p3, 4, 32-33,
40, 43, 45, 48-49, 58-59.
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In Totems to Turquoise: Native North American Jewelry Arts of the
Northwest and Southwest, Kari Chalker, ed. New York: Harry N. Abrams,
in association with The American Museum of Natural History, 2004,
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Press, 1992, p. 54-55, 57.
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Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1999.
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of the Museum of Northern Arizona.” American Indian Art Magazine
16 (Summer, 1991): 50-51.
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Connection, 1994, p. 12.
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the Heard Museum. Phoenix, Ariz.: Heard Museum, 2002, p. 45, 48, 50-51,
55, 63, 67, 76.
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of the Southwest. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1993, p. 124.
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Enterprises, LLC., 2002, p. 41.
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Treasure Chest Books, 1995, p. 38-39, back cover.
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Materials & the Carvers. Tucson: Treasure Chest Books, 1998, p.
22, 25, 30, 33.
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Fe: Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, 2003, p. 15-17, 24,
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edition. Tucson: Rio Nuevo Publishers, 2004, p. 7, 60, 71, 83-86.
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Zuni, N.Mex.: Zuni A:Shiwi Publishing, 1996, p. 72.
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Guide. Peducah, Ky.: Collector Books, 1999, p. 67.
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N.Mex.: Zuni, N.Mex.: Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, University of
New Mexico; Pueblo of Zuni Arts .....and
Crafts, 1990, p. 20-26, 50-51, 62-63, 80.
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Designs. West Chester, Pa.: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 1990, p. 138,
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Publishing, 1996, p. 29.
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Collection,” American Indian Art Magazine 19 (Winter, 1993):
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Art Magazine 3 (Summer, 1978): 40.
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