the Governor's Arts Award Winners

Ricardo Caté

Santo Domingo Pueblo

2021 recipient, Visual Artist

Ricardo Caté is from the Santo Domingo Pueblo, where he currently lives with his three children. He has followed many different paths throughout his life: in addition to being the only Native Cartoonist to be featured in a mainstream daily newspaper, he was a Marine diesel mechanic, earned a teaching degree from Fort Lewis College, and has taught in the Santo Domingo School and in the Head Start program in Sandoval County. Caté is a stand-up comedian, activist, and filmmaker. He has been a speaker at Yale University and Cal Poly State University, and a commencement speaker at Santa Fe Community College. He has always incorporated humor to shed light on difficult subject matter and spark discussion on topics otherwise easy to avoid. Caté's work has been on display at the Wheelwright Museum, Heard Museum, Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, and local galleries across the country.

Regarding his career as in cartoonist, for which he is best known, Caté said:

"I started drawing cartoons in the seventh grade with my best friend David when we wound up in separate classrooms. We would draw cartoons of our 'adventures' - both real and made-up - in our respective classrooms and then exchange cartoons in the hallway between classes. I continued to draw in high school, college, and while I was in the Marines."

"'Without Reservations' was first published in the Santa Fe New Mexican in 2006. I've tweaked the cartoons a bit by drawing fewer 'inside jokes' that only Native people would understand and making them more universal; developing my two main characters, the Chief and the General, so that each basically represents the culture they come from; and getting rid of my characters' eyes because I found it easier to have them express themselves that way.

"I try to 'educate' my readers about certain tribes and certain dates in Native American history that should have been told already. I do feel my work is even more important now than ever, both for open-minded egalitarian readers as well as conservatives who seem to be most offended by my work. I would like to think I am starting to bridge the gap between the two so that real discussions start to take place."

"I don't feel I should be responsible and represent all Natives because each tribe is different with its own history. I think mainstream America often depicts us as one even though there were well over 1,000 tribes before the Europeans came. I base my cartoons on my knowledge of other tribes as well as my own."