Ernie Washee was born in Crownpoint, New Mexico and raised by his grandmother in the small community of Mariano Lake, New Mexico.
His clan is Deeshchii’nii (Start of the Red Streak People) and he has two brothers and three sisters. As a young boy, Ernie attended boarding school in Crownpoint and also worked with his grandfather, Fred Thompson, who owned a trading post in Churchrock, NM.
Ernie’s grandfather, who was taught by his grandfather, instructed young Ernie in the skills of silversmithing and working with semi-precious stone.
Navajo Rock Art Jewelry by Ernie Washee
Ernie carries on that tradition today using his grandfather’s techniques, such as crafting his own stamps, milling his own silver, and cutting and polishing his own raw stones. Ernie uses traditional methods to craft his own blend of unique, contemporary jewelry styles, in addition to the time-honored, traditional motifs.
In recent years, Ernie has been influenced by the many rock art motifs and traditional Dine stories of the early people of the Southwest. Drawing on those inspirations, Ernie has developed a style of work that he calls, “rock art jewelry”.
Ernie lives with his wife, archaeologist and artist Rebecca Stoneman, and their horses, cats, dogs, and birds in Blanding, Utah.