Santo Domingo Depression “Era” Thunderbird Necklaces

Santo Domingo Pueblo is one of the largest of the Pueblo villages. It is located along the Rio Grande River, halfway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The people there have long been known for their lapidary and shell jewelry.

Between the 1930’s through the 1950’s, New Mexico Pueblo Indians were severely affected by the depression. At this time a type of necklace was made at the Santo Domingo Pueblo with unique materials. Called “Depression Necklaces,” these pieces were probably first made by artists who were unable to buy the traditional shell and turquoise materials. These necklaces were made with old phonograph records, car battery casings, turquoise chips. The red, which is seen on most depression necklaces, typically came from plastic dinnerware sold at the Walgreens on the Santa Fe Plaza.

While these necklaces were largely overlooked as a collectible item, thanks to the Wheelwright Museum’s inclusive exhibit these pieces are now given their rightful place as noted historical jewelry.