Rachel Sahmie Nampeyo was born to Priscilla Namingha Nampeyo and Donnelly Sahmie in 1956. She grew up in the village of Polacca at the foot of Hopi First Mesa, surrounded by some of the finest traditional potters in the Hopi mesas. Growing up watching her mother make pottery, Rachel learned a lot. She has been an active potter since about 1970. She has seven siblings, all of whom are potters or Katsina doll carvers. Her brothers and sisters are Nyla Samhie, Jean Sahme Bonnie Chapella, Randall Sahmie, Andrew Sahmie, Foster Sahmie and Finkle Sahmie. Rachel has one daughter, Carla Moreno, and two grandchildren, Sean Michael and Madison.
Rachel specializes in the Sikyátki Revival shapes and designs brought back into popularity by her great-grandmother, Nampeyo of Hano There was a time in her early twenties when Rachel experimented with more contemporary shapes and designs for her pottery but it "didn't have the same feel," and she returned to using the traditional designs of her great-grandmother. She has also created pieces decorated with Anasazi corrugations.
Rachel is an accomplished potter with works on display in places like The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe and the Heard Museum in Phoenix. She has often participated in shows at the Heard Museum, the Tuhisma Hopi Arts and Crafts Market in Kykotsmovi, AZ, and the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market, earning her a number of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place ribbons. Her favorite shapes to make are tiles and Sikyátki-style pots. Her favorite designs always have bird elements in them.
Rachel says she often gets inspired simply by hiking through the ruins of Sikyátki and studying the pot shards she finds strewn on the ground there. She would like the world to know she loves making pottery so much that she'd keep on making it long after folks stopped buying it. However, if Rachel is not busy making pottery on any particular day, she's probably gone fishing somewhere.