I was born on New Year's Day, 1963, in Eloy, Arizona. I grew up in Barrio Libre of South Tucson. I am one of two brothers and seven sisters. I graduated from Cholla High School in 1981 and attended the Chicago Art Institute in 1984-5. The Chicago art scene exposed me to a variety of art styles and periods but I never strayed far from my Yoeme roots. I am an enrolled member of the Yoeme Tribe and am actively involved in Yoeme ceremonial life.

When I was 10 years old I met Hispanic artist Arturo Montoya, who became my friend and mentor. Mr. Montoya was well-known and liked and dedicated a good part of his life to helping Yoeme youth through art. He gave me my first job as his apprentice. From him I learned the color palette and how to mix paints, and I painted his polyform sculptures of Yoeme themes that included the pascola, deer dancer, and matachines.

I began carving pascola masks in the late 1980s but painted Yoeme themes on wood and canvas prior to that. I also made polyform pascola and deer dancer figures in the way that Montoya taught me. I learned to carve pascola masks mainly from Jesus Acuña at New Pascua on the Yoeme Reservation.

After Arturo Montoya died I began my desent into alcohol and drugs. I have been in rehab and half-way houses five times. During my fifth time, my sister came to tell me that my brother had been diagnosed with cancer. As my only brother, it made me think about my life and my family and what my addiction was doing to them, and to my brother as he was dying. I have been sober since January, 2005, and my sobriety is what has allowed my creative gift to come forth into the world. And I still do miss my brother, but he is in good hands and is my guardian angel now.

Over time, carving has grown more into me and who I have to be for my culture. At this point there are only one or two Yoeme carvers on this side of the border. Once I'm gone and nobody picks it up, then that's it - our culture starts dying little by little. I think alot of it has to do with realities on the reservation and in the community, that has to do with drugs and alcohol. People are not focusing on the old beliefs like they used to when I was growing up.

It is important to me to mentor Yoeme youth the way Arturo Montoya mentored me. I am honored to take part teaching the students at Hohokam Middle School about my craft and telling them that they can achieve whatever they want in life - without drugs and alcohol.

With time, everything comes into place. The more I go with my sobriety one day at a time, every day I get stronger in what I want to do in the next day. As a Yoeme artist, for any artist - it is hard but when you enjoy what you love to do you can't walk away from it. It's up to me.