The book, The Myth and Magic of Nemadji “Indian” Pottery; History, Identification and Value Guide, grew out of a passion for collecting a Minnesota-made pottery.
The first piece of Nemadji found its way into my home in 1983, the year I moved to Moose Lake, Minnesota. I stumbled across the pot in the bottom of a cardboard box at a Saturday morning garage sale. It was made of red clay and had a rainbow of earthen colors splashed around it.
On a whim, I picked up the little pot and carried it, along with a pair of cross-stitched dresser scarves to the checkout line. Waiting in line to pay for my treasures, I took a closer look at the pot. Turning it in my hand I began to wonder about its interesting coloring. It had a sliver of black run- ning along a meandering ribbon of robin’s egg blue. A touch of yellow and a dab of red paint had been artfully swirled alongside them. On the bottom of the little red clay pot was a stamp mark, made in black ink. It read, “Hand Made Nemadji Indian Pottery (From Native Clay).”
I wondered if this little pot had indeed been made by Indians. What a find that would be, I thought. The more I examined it, the more questions I had. When had it been made? To what tribe of Indians did it belong? How did the potter manage to paint the swirls so perfectly? After a minute or two I shook my head in disbelief. Had this little treasure somehow cast a spell upon me? I wondered. There I was, about to buy something that didn’t even have a price tag on it. When it was my turn to pay for my purchases I asked the seller what she knew about the pot.
“Oh that?” she asked. “That’s a piece of that Nemadji crap.” “Nemadji,” I slowly repeated.
“Yah,” she replied. “They used to make it around here.” “How much?” I asked, holding my breath.
“Give me a dime.”
The woman’s effort to defame the little red pot failed and my discovery sparked the start of a long love affair with Nemadji Pottery. It also sparked a lengthy and continuing effort to unearth every nugget of information I can find about this mystery pottery. Those nuggets have been put together for you in The Myth and Magic of Nemadji “Indian” Pottery; History, Identification and Value Guide.
I’m calling this a first edition because I have learned there is always one more thing to learn about Nemadji Pottery. I have no doubt “that one more thing” will be included in a second edition.