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Amy Smith Cocopah Family Album Series

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BEAUTIFUL NATIVE GIRL Amparo "Amy" Smith, Cucapa Indian from El Mayor in Baja California Mexico, a Colorado River tribe, models one of her own handmade cocopah BEADED CAPES for a professional picture with her natural long black hair flowing well below her waist, a real natural beauty.

Also part of Amy's authentic Native American aboriginal clothing is her traditional willow bark skirt, handmade by Nick Wilson, a Cucapa ethnographic artist.

Amy was the pretty young Native American female model chosen to appear in this commercial image for a Cucapa bark skirt catalog location photo shoot in San Diego, California.


Cocopah Native American artist Amy Smith -- pictured here modeling authentic California aboriginal clothing -- handmade the Cocopah beaded cape necklace she is weaing in the photograph.

The Cocopah beaded capes are typically made of glass beads and threaded by hand. Amy Smith's handmade authentic Cocopah beaded collars are occasionally available for private sale.

Personal notes from a young Cocopah woman:

I was born in and raised in the Wi Shpa or Eagle Mountain area of the Cucapa Indian village of El Mayor, in Baja California, Mexico. 

Even though we moved to the United States when I was eight years old and I attended English schools in the U.S., my mother often took us back to the mountain and river to visit and learn from all my relatives.

They are the people who later taught me how to make the beaded Cocopah capes, and I still have the very first cape I made when I was about 13 years old. 

I remember my childhood well growing up on the Rio Hardy.

My sisters, aunts and I would spend all day at the river swimming, fishing, and just hanging out till we heard our mother yelling for us to come home. 

I also used to go out on the boat with my uncles and help check his nets for fish. 

My sisters and I also would catch crawdads and sardines by hand, then take them home to my mom to cook for us. I remember eating fish very often on the river, about five days a week we ate fresh fish from the river. 

When I started kindergarten in our village, I remember our class was taught out in the open air under a big Palo Fierro (iron wood tree).

I love going to school there.  My teacher was my mom's cousin, Prisciliano Gonzalez Sainz.

-Amparo "Amy" Smith, young Cocopah woman, 2006

Ethnographic art photography and design by G BALLARD, San Diego

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