Attribution of Dalee as the maker of this pot is based on comparison to a similar pot in the Rick Dillingham collection (Dillingham 1994:9). There are some differences between pot 2011-20 and the Dillingham pot, but the similarities are much greater than the differences. (It should be noted that only three sides of the Dillingham pot can be seen in the published photograph.)
Both of these pots are quite crudely drawn; with some imagination, one can see that they both embody the basic elements of the “eagle tail” design made famous by Nampeyo. The central elements of the basic motif are two pairs of linear “tail” feathers. Above each pair is a square containing a “zigzag” pattern with one area forming a mirror image of the other. On both jars curvilinear “wings” are placed on either side of the linear tail feathers. On both jars these elements contain painted crosses. Bridging across the top of the eagle tail design (on both pots) is a line of lobed elements painted either red or black. On both pots the overall eagle tail designs are linked by a “V” shaped line. On both pots hovering in this space is the abstract image of a dragonfly.
There are some differences between the pots. The pot in this collection is somewhat larger and more globular than the Dillingham pot. The painting on pot 2011-20 seems more thoughtful and better executed than that on the Dillingham pot, suggesting that the potter improved her skills over time with the pot in this collection perhaps being more recent than the Dillingham pot. The treatment of the zigzag design above each pair of linear tails is the most variable element. On pot 2011-20 the pattern is more regular: both zigzags in a pair are alternately painted either red or black, each color repeated twice around the pot. When black, the upper half of the motif is painted with the lower half left unpainted. When red, the lower half of the design is painted with the upper half stippled using black. On two of the panels visible on the Dillingham pot, the upper left element is painted red while the lower left element of the pair is similarly colored. From what I can see, this motif is unpainted on the third panel. The lobed elements across the top of the eagle tail designs alternate red and black around the pot in this collection and is coordinated with the color of the zigzag design below. From what can be seen on the Dillingham pot, these designs are sometimes coordinated, and sometimes not. On the Dillingham pot, there is a motif above the lobed element that is missing from pot 2011-20.
No attribution can be made with complete certainty, but the similar quality of painting and very similar design elements indicates with high certainly that the same hand made both pots. Around 1972, Grace Chapella identified the Dillingham pot as having been made by her sister, Dalee (Dillingham 1994:8). Rick accepted this attribution, and thus I adopt it for pot 2011-20. I would love to have listened in on the conversation about Dalee between Grace and Rick (and asked questions), but both these good folk are busy making pots together in the underworld and are not (currently) available to me.
Dalee was the sister of Grace Chapella. According to Dillingham (1994:10), Dalee died in 1921. A biography from the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame reports that Dalee died during childbirth (Arizona State Library 1988:1). After Dalee’s death, Grace raised Dalee’s five children in addition to her own.