Navajo man passed on his craft as IAIA instructor
As a young boy, Tsosie helped his family of sheepherders. His father, Hosteen Nez Tsosie, wanted a better life for his son and sent him to an Indian Boarding school. Carl ran away a few days later. "I missed my family, so I ran away from the school," Tsosie says.
But Tsosie's father took him back to school and insisted he get an education. "My father was real mad at me for running away, and said, 'Do you want to end up as a sheepherder like me?' That's when I knew that I had to stay in school," Tsosie recalls.
In 1938. Tsosie graduated from Santa Fe Indian School. He belonged to several school organizations and excelled in athletics.
In the 1960s, Carl returned to the Indian School campus as a woodworking instructor for the Institute of American Indian Arts. His reputation as a woodworker had caught the attention of the IAIA administration. "I was so proud that they asked me to teach and that I was able to teach other Native Americans my craft," he says.
Carl supported his
family by making furniture and building pedestals
for Alan Houser's sculptures. He also made frames for Fritz Scholder and many other artists. His nephew was
well-known artist R.C. Gorman, whose father, Carl
Gorman, was featured in the book The Navajo Code
Talkers for his World War II efforts.
"I had gone up there to help my future brother-in-law, Hubert Yazza, retrieve his car, which had slipped into a ravine," Tsosie remembers. "After we got the car out, we went up to the lodge and that's where I met Lydia. She didn't understand Navajo and I couldn't speak Tiwa, so we fell in love in English."
Today, Carl and Lydia have been married for 62 years. They have seven children, 12 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Most still live in the Santa Fe area near family.