Dec. 11, 2008
FRESNO, Calif. - When the New Mexico Bowl emerged in 2006 as the newest college football bowl game and the first in the state of New Mexico, executive director Jeff Siembieda traveled north of Albuquerque, 30 minutes to Zia Pueblo to ask members of the tribe for their permission to use the Zia Sun as the official bowl logo.
What he didn't know at the time is that that one trip would to spawn the creation of one of the most unique college football bowl trophies in the country.
While there, Tribal leaders gave their consent to use the Sun as the logo but asked in return if Zia art be used for the awards.
"I know how sacred the Zia is to the Zia Pueblo," Siembieda said. "I went to them to get their blessing for the logo and I wanted to work with them to make the awards original and special."
The team championship trophy is a hand crafted Native American clay pot designed and created by Marcellus and Elizabeth Medina from the Zia Pueblo. It is a 20-inch piece that features the Zia sun symbol, which is symbolic to the state flag, and images of football players, a deer, a mountain lion, a buffalo and an eagle.
Elizabeth hand-coils and fires the pottery and Marcellus paints the clay trophy using a white base coat after hand-painting the piece in black. His final touch is colored acrylic paint depicting football players in classic game stances and logos for the participating teams and the New Mexico Bowl logo. All of this is done the couple's home studio.
"Marcellus and Elizabeth embraced the idea and have been very creative," Siembieda added. "All of the symbols have a meaning to the Native American culture. They had never used their art for awards before and now since they have been asked to do many different things."
Another Zia Pueblo artist, Ralph Aragon, designed the trophies for the Offensive and Defensive Players of the game from traditional leather shields.
"We are really proud of the awards," Siembieda sad. "We understand there are a lot of bowls out there and traditions and we are a young bowl. We are trying to do things that are different and embrace New Mexico. It's a special place. We think they are really special and in our young history people have taken to them and appreciated them. "
The New Mexico Bowl is between a two teams, one each from the Western Athletic Conference and the Mountain West Conference. The Bulldogs will play in their first-ever New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 20 vs. Colorado State.
Fellow WAC institution San Jose State won the first-ever New Mexico Bowl just three years ago and takes pride in its trophy.
"The uniqueness of the trophy is self evident because it is hand made," said Lawrence Fan, the Director of Sports Information at San Jose State University. "That in itself sets it apart from other awards that SJSU has received the past 100 years. SJSU is very proud to be the first school to win the New Mexico Bowl and to receive the trophy."
Join the State - Fresno State! - Fans are encouraged to check www.gobulldogs.com for information regarding the New Mexico Bowl, including ticket, travel and hotel accommodations.
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