Generations of Jewelers: The 100-year Legacy of The Arrowhead
By, Matthew Kincanon
For Dyaami Lewis, being a silversmith is more than a profession, it’s a family tradition. He is the 4th generation of jewelers carrying on traditions and techniques that have been handed down through his family.
So where does the name The Arrowhead come from? According to Dyaami, his great grandfather, Alvin Concho Lewis, had a birthmark on his right leg that looked like an arrowhead. Also, he said his dad, Greg Lewis’s, Indian name is Histiani, which means “Arrowhead.”
Alvin established The Arrowhead trademark in 1922 when he was 14-years-old and learned his silversmith techniques from an uncle. Alvin was not just an Acoma silversmith, he was also a chauffer, babysitter and shopkeeper at Candelerio Curio Shop with Julius Gaines in Santa Fe, New Mexico during the late 1930s and early 40s. In 1941, when World War II broke out, he moved to the California Bay area to build ships for the war department.
All that time while he was doing these jobs, Alvin made jewelry in an extra space in his home until retirement in 1962. The following year, he opened The Arrowhead storefront.
Fast-forward to 1965, a preteen Greg (Alvin’s grandson) ran away from home to see his grandfather and arrived at the shop excited. Greg asked Alvin if he thinks he could make jewelry.
According to Dyaami, he responded, “Thinking about it isn’t going to get you anywhere. You see that broom, sweep the shop floor. And does your mom know where you are?”
To which Greg replied no and his grandfather sent him home because Alvin didn’t want to get in trouble. So the story goes.
When Greg was 15 he enrolled in a metal shop class which allowed him to do work study across the California Bay everyday. Greg then tucked himself right under his grandfather’s wing and began the trade. The two then made jewelry together throughout the 60s and 70s.
The shop stayed in California until 1979 when the shop was moved. Currently, the shop operates in Paguate, New Mexico.
Dyaami started his apprenticeship as a silversmith in 1988 when he was 8-years-old, a year before Alvin passed away. He then started working for his dad full-time from 2001 to 2017 when his dad had a stroke.
For the next four years, Dyaami became his dad’s caregiver and did his best to keep him close. However, it hurt Greg to not be able to create jewelry. He died in December of 2021.
Dyaami is now working to fulfill his destiny. He’s sharing his family’s story and having a grand reopening. He is hoping to find a student to take under his wing and carry the trade.
He gives a special thanks to his family: mom, Su, Dwight, Lucien, Estevan, Krysta, Marea, Loera, Noel, Nick and Zia the Dogg. Without them, he said none of this would be possible today.
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