Helen Cordero created the storytellers in 1964 as a way to honor her grandfather, Santiago Quintana. Helen won numerous awards for her pottery and was featured in over 25 issues of American Indian Art Magazine and on the cover of National Geographic magazine. Her Storyteller design became popular with other pottery-makers, who have created variations, including animal storytellers. To distinguish her work and to fulfill the expectations of some collectors, Helen began signing her works. After the storyteller's success, Helen eventually drew more from her experiences and developed other types, including drummers, singing mothers, Pueblo's father, and Hopi maiden. Helen was honored as a Santa Fe Living Treasure in May of 1985; she was made an NEA National Heritage Fellow in 1986.
Helen Cordero Primary School, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is now named after her.