THE LIVING TRADITION OF MARIA MARTINEZ, by Susan Peterson (Kodansha International, $35). In San Ildefonso near the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico, Maria Martinez, a 97-year-old Pueblo Indian of the Tewa tribe has been making exquisite pottery for most of her lifetime. She still uses the same technique of her ancestors - digging clay on the foothills of the mesa, shaping it by hand without the use of a potter's wheel, drawing traditional Pueblo motifs, and baking her pots in an open fire. She would have been one of the many unknown native artisans whose works would be admired years later, meanwhile barely subsisting on minimum income. But she "discovered" back in 1907 by visiting archeologist, one of whom asked Maria Martinez if she could reproduce the ancient black pottery found in Frijoles Canyon. She said she could, and after years of experimenting, she regularly began to produce pots with an unusual black sheen. Her works now command thousands of dollars and she is recognized as a virtual national cultural treasure. Susan Peterson's book is both a tribute to one of this country's foremost artisans and a stimulating introduction to the ancient technique of native American pottery. An exhibition of her works will be held at Renwick Gallery in March.