Kathy Sanchez | San Idlefonso Pueblo

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Tribal Nation

San Idlefonso Pueblo

Elder Kathy Wan Povi Sanchez – Brief Life Narrative

Kathy Wan Povi Sanchez a fourth-generation Tewa traditional potter from San Ildefonso Pueblo in northern New Mexico was well nurtured by matriarchal ancestors Maria and Julian Martinez. Not only was she nurtured in the art of the distinctive black ware pottery, but also in modeling the heart centeredness, the lived narrative of generational wisdom sharing, seeing the world from a holistic lens envisioning how a beloved community can be dreamt and become possible.  

In the mid-1980’s, Elder Kathy begun to document the lived narratives of her, Wan Povi’s matriarchal linage. Suddenly, with the loss of her Great Aunt Mella who raised her, life took another turn. Then in the late 1980’s, a tribal women support group started to blossom as Tewa Women United. It was a collective system of supportive wisdom sharing and empowered women. 

Under the guidance and organizing wings of Elder Kathy, in 2001 the group became a 501 (c) 3 organization. This created a safe space for conversations initially addressing issues of grief and loss, domestic violence, substance addictions and sexual violence. The group realized these were surface symptoms rooted in a Culture of Violence, in its killing ways of oppressive inhumane principles guided by the Doctrine of Discovery. Elder Kathy stated “the true happenings done in the name of colonization must be uncovered so we can heal from centuries of traumatic soul wounding”.

“Nurturing the lovingness and the seeds of hope, we initiated a project called “Radical Hope” to seek and become connected beloved communal networks and to sustain beloved communities once again”, shares Elder Kathy. In 2019 Tewa Women United proudly celebrated its 30+ years anniversary.  

Today the social justice organization has five innovative programs focused on supporting Indigenous women, families and beloved communities. 

Last year, Elder Kathy and her daughter, Dr. Corrine Sanchez, Executive Director of Tewa Women United, were recognized by the Pueblo governors and people for their lifetime contributions and achievements in their advocacy to sustain Pueblo ways of life. 

Elder Kathy’s life journey also brought to her the vision for a transformative tool for cross-cultural communications called the Two World Harmony – Butterfly Model. Central to this Model is the Infinity Loop concept which is innately found in all Indigenous Tribes. The Infinity Loop is symbolic of the mobility of energy, heart energy, the energy of love. 

The Two World Harmony – Butterfly Model holds that through living Traditional principled core values and practices one is taken back to their heart centeredness, back into a beloved Community. And through the use of tools such as “Healing Trauma Rocks”, the Model addresses historical trauma, leading to transformative change of the damaged soul woundings. 

As a fluent Tewa language speaker Elder Kathy conducts community educational practices as she coordinates the inter-Tribal, multi-cultural Sayain: Circle of Grandmothers. She also continues to expresses love for Earth Mother through her Environmental Health and Justice work. This advocacy work is done on behalf of water and lands, addressing particularly the toxicity brought to Tewa Lands by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the birth place of the atom bomb. 

Elder Kathy continues to be instrumental in the production of the Annual Gathering for Mother Earth, an event bringing all Nations and all Peoples together to honor Mother Earth uniting all in a culture of peace.

Elder Kathy reminds us that “As long as we protect the seeds of life, we shall never perish”. 

Welcome, a living treasure from the Pueblos, Legacy Leader Elder Kathy Wan Povi Sanchez. 

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