The village of Juan Mata Ortiz surfaced in the early

part of the 20th century as Pearson, named after its developer, American industrialist Fred S. Pearson. By 1909, it becomes the site of a lumber and railroad emporium, and home to the largest sawmill in Central America.

Historically, the area had been inhabited by indigenous people from the Pre-Columbian Paquime Civilization dating from 1150-1300 AD and home to a highly evolved pottery tradition known as Casas Grandes pottery. (Ancient pottery remains and vessels have been excavated and found by the villagers over the years, in the surrounding hills, mounds and mesas that border the village).

The development of Pearson attracted unemployed Mexicans from the surrounding regions, and Chinese immigrants from as far away as California, to work at the sawmill and on the construction of the railroad. These activities resulted in the growth of a village settlement that today numbers 300-400 families.

The outbreak of the Mexican Revolution severely disrupted the Chihuahua region, causing the sawmill to fail and the railroad to be damaged. The people of Mata Ortiz struggled to survive and turned to subsistence farming and ranching.

By 1925 the village became Juan Mata Ortiz and obtained community land grant status from the Mexican government. Many community members also excavated ancient earthenware vessels, which they sold to dealers and collectors to help supplement their meager incomes. As the caches of pre-historic earthenware vessels dried up, villagers learned to

make and copy the ancient Paquime pottery designs. With this began the birth of the modern pottery tradition in Mata Ortiz.

By the early 1970s a number of families in the village became skilled at creating and producing their own traditional, signed artisanal pottery of high quality, using and improving on the traditional technology used by the ancient Pre-Hispanic inhabitants of the region.

Today the potters of Mata Ortiz continue to expand and excel in their work receiving both national and international recognition and awards for the excellence of their fine ceramics.

Riding bareback in Mata Ortiz
This old adobi building located on the edge of Mata Ortiz was photographed by Carlotta Boettcher in 2011.
A gas station at the end of a dirt road in Mata Ortiz
Pre-Columbian Paquime pots from Casas Grandes near  Mata Ortiz, Mexico.
Potteryartist Goyin Silveira sitting in his yard sanding one of his pots.  Photo by Carlotta Boettcher 2011
One of several event centers found on the map of Mata Ortiz
Participants of the literacy program, Proyecto Cervants, at the Mata Ortiz Library.
Patricia Ortega, the Mata Ortiz librarian and a member of Proyecto Cervantes, helping children learn to read.
Patricia Ortega running an Arts & CraftsSummer program at the Mata Ortiz Public Library.
13 high school students from Mata Ortiz won University scholarships donated with funds raised by members of Mata Ortiz Grupo Siete, who are pottery artists (back row).
The children and their friends of Mata Ortiz Grupo Siete members Laura Bugarini, Hector Gallegos, Carla Martinez, Diego Valles, Graciela Martinez, and Goyin Silveira.
Four of the young men who run the carnival which came to Mata Ortiz in August. 2012
At the celebrations of September 15, Independence Day in Mata Ortiz
At the celebrations of September 15, Mata Ortiz Municipal President Javier Mendoza and his wife Faviola ringing the bell of independence. 2011
Hamburgesas Johny is run by the owner Mema and her helpers.
Leonel Quezada and Yesenia Sandoval are the owners and chefs at Hambugesas Paquime.
Leonel Quezada prepares a dish!  Yum!!!
Driving to Mata Ortiz from the Sierra Madre mountains.