New Mexico Distinguished Public Service Awards 2005
Recognizing Those Committed to Making a Difference
Esther Martinez

Ms. Martinez was an educator, master storyteller and author. She would often introduce herself by saying she was born in 1912, the same year New Mexico became a state and the Titanic sank. She spent the early part of her life living with her parent in Colorado . Ms. Martinez made her way to San Juan Pueblo. She attended Santa Fe Indian School . Later she graduated from the Albuquerque Indian School in 1930. Throughout the rest of her adult life, Martinez dedicated herself to raising ten children and working in a multitude of service jobs in northern New Mexico .

At 54 she began documenting the Tewa language and served as Tewa Instructor and Director of Bilingual Education for over 20 years. She published The San Juan Pueblo Tewa Dictionary which is used in the classroom today. She was recognized by the National Association with their ‘Pioneer Award’ for her work. Other honors given to Ms. Martinez include the Living Treasure Award from the State of New Mexico, the Indian Education Award for Teacher of the Year from the National Council of American Indians, the Indigenous Language Institute Award for “Those Who Make a Difference” among others.

Among Pueblo people Martinez was best known as The San Juan Storyteller. Martinez published My Life In San Juan Pueblo: Stories of Esther Martinez which continues to be used in many universities across the United Sates.

She was also selected by the National Endowment for The Arts as a recipient of the National Hertage Fellowship Award. This award was based on the artistic excellence, cultural authenticity and contributions to her field.

For her entire life, Ms. Martinez dedicated herself to the pueblo culture, people and language. She has left an indelible mark on the lives of many generations.