Hand crafted by Tonya June Rafael. Navajo (Diné), born in Gallup, New Mexico. Her maternal clans are Naakai Diné, born for the Kiinyaa’anii. She currently resides in Blackwater, a small community between Thoreau and Prewitt, New Mexico.
"I was raised by my grandparents Tom and Mary Rafael. They were full-time silversmiths. I remember when I was eight years old, while my grandparents were away taking a lunch break from their jewelry work, my curiosity drew me to my grandfather’s workbench. I decided to play with his silversmith tools and torch. I sat in his chair and imagined that I was making jewelry, and actually lit the torch and smelted my grandfather’s silverwork into a glob of melted silver. Instantly, I knew I was in trouble for messing up my grandfather’s work. I got scared and hid the evidence by throwing the glob of melted silver under his workbench. I am sure grandpa wondered and speculated on the disappearance of his work. That was my first initial trial and experimenting and handling silversmith tools. A decade later, at the age of 18, I began making sterling silver earrings and ‘slave bracelets’ as a piece-worker for a jewelry manufacturing company in Gallup. Then I moved to Albuquerque to attend college at the University of New Mexico."