Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

Estefanita received the 1998 Governor’s Award for Excellence and Achievement in the Arts; is a recipient of the Institute for the Preservation of the Original Languages of the Americas award in 1999; and was honored on September 12, 2006 with the National Heritage Fellowship Award in Washington, D.C., for her work in preserving the Tewa language.  For years she was the traditional storyteller for the National Park Service and for numerous schools and organizations.  

Sadly, Estefanita was killed on September 16th, 2006, in a car accident caused by a drunken driver, while returning home from Washington where she attended the celebration to receive her National Heritage Fellowship Award accompanied with a standing ovation for her stories and life’s work.  Shortly after her death, a native-languages bill named The Esther Martinez Native Languages Preservation Act was signed into law in tribute to her life’s work.  The Act will establish grants for governments, colleges and other Indian educational organizations working to preserve native cultures and language.