Warren Montoya

Tamaya (Santa Ana Pueblo) Kha’po Owingeh (Santa Clara Pueblo)

AWARDEE:  Warren Montoya
NATIVE HERITAGE: Tamaya (Santa Ana Pueblo) Kha’po Owingeh (Santa Clara Pueblo)
LOCATION: Santa Ana Pueblo
AWARD: 2023 SHIFT – Transformative Change and Indigenous Arts
Santa Fe Indian School
WEBSITE: sfis.k12.nm.us/

Working in multiple creative disciplines for over twenty years, Warren Montoya’s focus as an artist is to share the power and complexity of modern Indigenous peoples. With the philosophy that Indigeneity is beholden to action, practices of farming, parenting, painting, and engaging in community events are daily modes of how he nurtures a responsive relationship with the world around him. Primarily a muralist, Montoya’s artwork has a distinctive style of vibrant coloring and dynamic imagery and has earned him several awards and fellowships. His work challenges stereotypical views of Native arts and identity by centering and celebrating the dynamic humanity of Indigenous peoples and their lifeways.

Montoya builds meaningful partnerships with organizations and communities across the Southwest to produce collaborative projects that engage communities and empower local youth. As Founder of REZONATE Art, he creates murals in direct collaboration with communities, organizations, and schools. Through his work as an artist, educator, and business owner, Montoya has dedicated himself to nurturing youth leadership and cultivating healthy relationships in the communities in which he works.

This project will introduce many opportunities to uplift cultural resiliency, to heal and to enhance the schools’ holistic model that centers Indigenous belief systems and culture, for generations to come.”

― Warren Montoya (Tamaya [Santa Ana Pueblo] Kha’po Owingeh [Santa Clara Pueblo])


Montoya’s SHIFT Project, The Santa Fe Indian School Heritage Murals Project, is a multi-phase program to design and permanently install several murals across the Santa Fe Indian School campus. To share deeper context for each mural, Montoya will use Augmented Reality coding technology that will be positioned over the murals and accessible to viewers through their cellphones. The murals will be created in direct collaboration with Lead Partner Organization Santa Fe Indian School’s students, staff, and alumni, as well as community leaders and knowledge keepers, and will set a precedent and be an example for the diverse and innovative ways our people can share and grow cultural knowledge, discuss identity and educate community members. The program will be documented for a short film and a catalog to build a wider audience for the work for years to come.


The Albuquerque and Santa Fe Indian Schools were established in the late 1800s by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) as federal, off-reservation boarding schools. In 1976, after the passage of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, the All Indian Pueblo Council contracted operations to assume tribal control of the Albuquerque Indian School (AIS). In 1979, AIS merged with SFIS and relocated to its historic campus in Santa Fe, NM. The success of tribal leadership exercising its right to educational sovereignty and self-determination has resulted in:

  • SFIS becoming a tribally-controlled grant school that is owned and operated by the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico under Public Law 100-297, the Tribally Controlled Schools Act;
  • The transfer of the 115 acre campus in trust to the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico as an educational institution under the Santa Fe Indian School Act;
  • SFIS consistently closing achievement gaps for students, including continued growth during the pandemic, according to the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP);
  • Cognia, SFIS’ accrediting agency, identifying SFIS as a 2022 School of Distinction for exemplifying excellence in education and standing out as a global example for our service to learners.

The continued success of SFIS can be attributed, in large part, to the commitment of their tribal leaders, who regularly meet with students to help educate them about their core values and support their work preparing students to be contributing members of their communities. The school also credits their staff for their daily dedication to supporting our students and commends their students for their contributions to our learning community.