Joyce Pale Moon Krigsvold

Joyce Pale Moon Krigsvold

Joyce Pale Moon Krigsvold was born on the Pamunkey Indian Reservation in King William County, Virginia to James and Dora Bradby on September 18, 1941. She spent her formative years on the reservation learning traditional pottery making from her mother and her aunts. She married Gene Krigsvold on September 16, 1965, with whom she has four children -Sandra, Kevin, Rebecca, and Erick. Ms. Krigsvold still lives on the Pamunkey Reservation and continues making traditional Pamunkey pottery. She currently can be found nearly every day either managing the Pamunkey Museum or creating new pottery at the Pamunkey Indian Pottery School.

Upon their arrival in the spring of 1607, English settlers interacted with and depended on the generosity of the native Virginia Indians. Among the tribes they encountered was the largest and most dominant tribe known as the Pamunkey. On numerous occasions the English ate meals with the Pamunkey and became familiar with the earthenware pottery used by tribal members to both store and cook food. Although this type of pottery was new to the English, Virginia Indians had been producing it for thousands of years. Thanks to metal and ceramics being introduced by the English, the need for pottery as an everyday tool diminished. Today pottery is no longer used for its original purpose, instead being used almost exclusively as art.

Though the function of pottery has changed for Pamunkey potters, the custom of passing on the knowledge of how to make this pottery has persevered. Today, one of the most prolific and sought after traditional potters is Joyce Pale Moon Krisgsvold. She learned the craft from her mother and aunts in the late 1940s and has continued making it for over 60 years. She has taken on a leadership role in the tribe to pass down the techniques and knowledge essential for the tradition to stay alive. She is a featured speaker at schools throughout Virginia, sharing her insight of her tribe and pottery making skills to students. She has been featured on numerous television and radio programs, as well as being the subject of many newspaper articles. Ms. Krigsvold was chosen to represent the Pamunkey tribe during a 2006 trip to England to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the landing of English settlers in Virginia. While there, she held pottery-making demonstrations for thousands of interested observers. Her work has been displayed in the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D. C. She has had numerous commissions, shipping her artwork to places from Athens, Greece to Paris, France. She also holds the distinction of gifting a piece of her pottery to each Virginia Governor over the past 25 years.

Joyce Pale Moon Krigsvold is an authentic Virginia treasure and represents the finest heritage of a Pamunkey potter and Virginia resident. Her efforts to tell the story of Virginia Indians through her artwork and be an ambassador for Virginia should be heralded publicly.

Without her efforts the art of making traditional Pamunkey pottery would suffer. With less than 100 Pamunkey Indians remaining on the Pamunkey Indian Reservation, few potters are left. Without Ms. Krigsvold’s steadfast determination and efforts to continue the tradition of pottery making , this art would almost certainly go the way of so many other Indian traditions. In our ever changing world it is comforting to know that there is someone who is working to keep traditions alive and to help educate young and older generations alike.

2009 Virginia Heritage Award Winners