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Esther Martinez, linguist and storyteller, dies at 94

Esther Martinez, a Pueblo linguist and storyteller, died on Saturday night after returning from Washington, D.C., where she received a 2006 National Heritage Fellowship. She was 94.

Martinez was from Ohkay Owingeh, formerly known as San Juan Pueblo. Her Tewa name was P'oe Tsawa, or Blue Water. Most everyone in the community called her Ko'oe, which means Aunt.

Martinez was instrumental in preserving the Tewa language. She developed dictionaries, translated key texts and taught the language to several generations of youth at the Pueblo.

She had been in Washington late last week to accept the award from the National Endowment for the Arts. She attended a Capitol Hill presentation and a performance featuring the other fellowship winners.

She was killed in a car accident in Espanola, a town located next to Ohkay Owingeh. Police suspect alcohol was a factor because the driver who hit the car carrying Martinez and her daughters smelled of alcohol and alcohol containers were in his truck.

Get the Story:
Ohkay Owingeh: Crash kills Tewa storyteller (The Santa Fe New Mexican 9/18)
Tewa Linguist Esther Martinez Dies at 94 (AP 9/18)

2006 National Heritage Fellowships:
Bio: Esther Martinez | List of Recipients

Related Stories:
Pueblo woman keeps Tewa language, culture alive (08/28)
Pueblo woman wins National Heritage Fellowship (06/16)