Oscar Alexius "O.A."
1975 to Present
Oscar Alexius Script
1975 to Present
Old style, detailed stampwork and very large stones
FIRST YEAR MAKING ART:
When did you first get into the rodeo lifestyle?
I was 16 when I rode a steer no horns in the Junior Rodeo. That was in high school. Then in the Pro-Am at 17 I started riding bare back.
What was your first big rodeo?
The Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, 1968, I entered for the bare back competition, got bucked off.
I always heard of you as a bull rider, when did you start riding the big ones?
I went to bulls when I was 19 years old. When I was young I always rode gentle riding horses bare back and this was my training for getting on the big bulls.
Where did the rodeo take you?
After I finished high school I went to trade school in San Jose, California. I was training to become an electric draftsman. When I was out there I did some rodeo events. In 1970 I finished second in California rodeo and won $180 dollars.
How long did you stay in California?
I worked out there for a year after becoming an electric draftsman. Then I came back home thinking I could find some work. I wasn’t able to find any work so started to look for something else to do. That is when I was trained to make eye glasses for the Navajo Tribe.
Did you make glasses for a long period of time?
While I was doing this I was looking for something else to do. My cousin brother in Thoreau made jewelry. This was the first time I had seen jewelry being made and thought it looked good, so I asked him for a stone and silver. I made my first ring out of those pieces with out anyone showing me how.
Is this when you started making jewelry for a living?
No, I still was not able to find another job so I went to Bible School in Albuquerque.
So you are a religious person, what faith do you belong to?
I believe in the church way. My mother was an interpreter for a mission in Fort Defiance when I was growing up. So I was always around church and believed in that.
So you are training for a career in church, what happened?
When I was in Albuquerque some of the people I went to school with asked me if I wanted to go to work. I said yes, but didn’t know where they were taking me. When we got there it was at a manufacturer place in town. The owner gave me silver to make him 10 rings, I didn’t know what I was doing and it took me a week to get them done.
Did the rings turn out nice, or did you think that was the end of your jewelry making career?
When I took the 10 rings back it was at the end of the week and the owner told me to come back on Monday and see what we could do. He gave me a job, and I would work at his shop where he provided all of the tools.
How did this arrangement work out for you?
After three months I went into the boss’s office and asked for a raise, I was making $3 dollars an hour. He started to laugh and said that no one had ever come into his office and asked for a raise, he gave me .50 cents extra, but told me not to tell anyone.
So you had a good relationship with this owner?
Yes, after I had been working there for awhile he called me into his office and said he needed to talk. He told me that I needed to get transportation, I didn’t have a vehicle at this time and it was over 10 miles from where I was staying. He took me outside and showed me a car and told me it was mine.
How long did you continue to work there?
I worked there for three years then went back home to find a job. Didn’t find anything, so I ended up in Phoenix for another three years doing repair work for a guy there. He also gave me a car because I was again without any transportation. Then I came back home and found a job that I had for 15 years, that was my longest job.
What happened with that job?
The trader sold the store and I decided to go out on my own. I had made good jewelry there and he had entered me in many competitions, the State Fair and Ceremonial. My jewelry did well so I figured I could make it on my own.
I know you are still doing bull riding, how tough is that now that you are getting older?
Rodeo is my sport, it feels good and the more you win the more you want to get back on. I had surgery this year on my shoulder and don’t want to think about whether or not I can still ride.
What rodeo circuit do you compete on?
I belong to the Dine Land Senior Rodeo Association. In 2000 I won the best rider for bulls, they gave me a saddle, buckle, and jacket. I also serve as the Bull Riding Director.
So, now that you are out on your own what type of style do you prefer to make?
It doesn’t matter, I like it all, but really like to make the big things. I made a silver airplane when silver was under $3 an ounce. I can make pieces with silver only, or with stones. I am just trying to keep up with my orders.