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North American
at the
Dallas Museum
of Art

and other American Indian Museums and Galleries

southwest art
A Presentation for El Centro's Capstone Program

Here are some questions to consider before you enter the virtual tour or to the museum:
  1. Who made these objects and why were they made?
  2. What do the objects reveal about the people who made them?
  3. What do the objects reveal about the environment in which they were made?
  4. How did the objects from the Southwest differ from the Caddo and Eskimo objects?
  5. How did the objects from the Southwest seem similar to the Caddo and Eskimo objects?
  6. Which of the objects did you like the most and why?
  7. Why did the ancient American cultures develop pottery styles different from other cultures in the world?
  8. Describe two major characteristics of ancient American pottery.
  9. What influence did the introduction of Spanish culture have on ancient American pottery?
  10. Name three cultural groups that occupied the southwestern part of North America.
  11. Define some of the cultural attributes associated with the ancient American peoples represented at the Dallas Museum of Art and other museums.
  12. Describe at least two attributes of Mimbres pottery.
  13. When did the Mimbres culture flourish and where?
  14. Why are bowls the majority of artifacts found from the Mimbres culture?


    These dates are a compilation of a variety of resources. As you can see, there is a wide range of dates. Anthropology is not an exact science in this area. Take the dates as educated guesses.

    (?)18,000 BCE Southwest & Southeast occupied

    7000 BCE Desert Cultures emerge

    2000 BCE First farming in the S.W.

    700-0 BCE Cochise peoples of S.W.

    500 BCE Agricultural Revolution in S.W.

    300-100 BCE Pottery, settling down

    300 BCE-300 CE Development of Hohokam culture

    200 BCE-1 CE Development of Mogollon culture

    1-750 CE Development of Puebloan cultures - Basket Maker Stages (Anasazi)

    200-700 CE Arrival of Mexican influences in the S.W.

    300 CE Vahki phase of Hohokam culture

    400-700 Modified Basket Maker Stage

    600 Hohokam develop irrigation, ball courst, earthen pyramids, etchings

    700-900 Appearance of pueblos, kivas, reliance on agriculture in S.W. 700-1000 Shift to above ground, masonry pueblos in S.W.

    750-1250 Mimbres culture

    1100 Peak of Caddo moundbuilding

    1100-1300 Great Pueblo Period - cliff dwellings

    1150-1450 Classic Hohokam

    1300 Caddo Mounds of East Texas abandoned

    1300-1500 Puebloan dispersal Chihuahua to Phoenix; abandon cliff dwellings

    1300-1700 Late Caddo period

    1500 (?) Arrival of Athabascans (Navajo & Apache) in S.W.

The collection of art and artifacts from Indians north of mesoamerica is one of the smaller collections at the Dallas Museum of Art. It seems to get smaller every Spring. The advantage of this is you may focus your study and are not overwhelmed by the choices. Another interesting thought is that this collection is probably the only one at the museum in which most of the artists are women.

As you enter the area, you will see relatively recent pieces from New Mexico. They are from
San Ildefonso Pueblo, that is one of 19 surviving Pueblos and home to the Tewa Indians in New Mexico. The pieces are dated from the late 19th through early 20th centuries. They are ceramic although differ in the color of the slip and designs. The black plate is most representative of Tewa pottery since that's their most famous.

The next piece that you will see in this display comes from Santa Clara Pueblo, also home to Tewa Indians. Both also make beautiful black pottery. For more information on other Pueblo Indians, see the Pueblos Page as well as the Hopi and Zuni. Here are some sites about San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, and other Pueblo pottery and people:

San Ildefonso Pueblo
San Ildefonso Pueblo - Wikipedia
San Ildefonso Pueblo - Photo
San Ildefonso Pottery
San Ildefonso Pottery
San Ildefonso Pottery
San Ildefonso Pottery
San Ildefonso Pottery
Items for Sale
Santa Clara Pueblo Pottery
Santa Clara Pueblo - Wikipedia
Santa Clara Pueblo Pottery

On the wall next to the Pueblo pottery, you will a Navajo (Dine') weaving. This blanket from the 1870s would be part of the so-called "Transition Period" or Classic Period. The story goes that the Dine' never completely finish a work. Can you find the unfinished bit? Be sure and read the information on the wall next to the weaving.

Question: Why would the Dine' want an unfinished work of art?

Here are some interesting Dine' or Navajo links:
Navajo National Monument
Navajo Codetalkers Dictionary
"The People"
Navajo Literature
Navajo Creation Story
A Brief Social History of Navajo Weaving
Navajo Weaving Picture

Next to the rug, there is a display of more Puebloan pottery. The two jars come from the San Ildefonso and Acoma. Pottery of this sort is still being made at Acoma. Acoma pottery is still highly prized. Acoma Pueblo is considered the oldest continuously inhabited town in the U.S. today. Today, Acoma Pottery is still important to the economy, but the Sky City Casino provides another source. Here are links that tell you more about Acoma Pueblo and People:
Hollister Collection, University of Massachusetts

Question: How would you describe the geography of the Acomo Pueblo region?

Question: What is a "kachina"?

Other pieces that will catch your attention are the Kachinas. See the Hopi Page for links and outline for the Hopi. A good place to start is on the Hopi Cultural Preservation page.

As you enter the small room with the rest of the collection, you will see a long line of Mogollon Mimbres pottery. This is ome of the most famous of all Southwestern pottery. It is also some of the oldest in this collection dating to 1000-1150 C.E. Here you will find the classic black and white as well as the red and white designs of animals, geometric designs, and human figures. See the Mogollon Page for links and outline of discussion.

Question: Why do all the bowls have holes in the bottom? See this example.

Toward the center of the room you will find some nice jars and a really cute bighorn sheep figurine. These were made by the Hohokam and Mogollon peoples. They were some of the most famous artists in the southwest. See this page for much more information. (The Mogollon also made the Mimbres pottery.)

Nearby, you will find four so-called "Anasazi" pieces including both effigies and jars. Currently, the term "Anasazi" is under fire by the Pueblo peoples to whom others refer to their ancestors as the "Anasazi." The word "Anasazi" is actually a Navajo word and means "my enemies." Because of this, the term "Ancient Pueblo Peoples" is preferred by today's Pueblo peoples. For more links and discussion, see the Ancient Pueblos page.

Question: Who wants to be the first to tell the Dallas Museum of Art directors that they are politically incorrect?

Toward the back of the little room area and near the stairs, you will see three pieces that originated from outside the Southwest. The three Caddo examples make for some interesting comparisons to the rest of the collection. The two bottles and large red bowl that date from 1200-1500 C.E. came from Arkansas, but they could have come from the Dallas area since the Caddo lived from Dallas to the east. Their pottery is prized among collectors and archaeologists. Note the beautiful engraving and incising. You might want to read this article about the history of Texas pottery or for links and outline of discussion, see the Caddo page. Maybe you would like to make your own Caddo pottery.

Before you leave, you will also notice the masks and shaman staff from the Yup'ik Eskimo people and a Canadian Haida head rattle. For its 2,000-year history, the Central Yup'ik Eskimo population has remained unusually high, sustained by the great amounts of salmon that enter Alaska's two largest rivers. Over 20,000 people now live in 52 villages in a region the size of the state of Oregon. This is the highest population of Native Americans living continuously on their traditional lands, and their culture and language remain intact.

The Haida are North American Indians who came from the Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia and invaded Prince of Wales Island, probably early in the 18th century. The Haida language belongs to the family of Nadene languages. Traditional Haida society was organized into many single villages composed of one to several house groups or Matriclans. They were headed by hereditary chiefs. Chiefs gave potlatches to guests of the opposite moiety, displaying hereditary crests and dances, wearing masks for spirital powers. Warfare with enemy tribes was frequent, for revenge, booty, and slaves. Expert fishermen and seafarers, the Haida depended heavily on halibut, black cod, sea mammals, mollusks, and freshwater salmon catches. The abundant red cedars were used to make huge dugout canoes, multifamily plank houses, numerous TOTEM poles as memorials, and carved boxes and dishes.

Here are some useful links:
The Yupik
Haida Village Photo with Totem Poles
Haida Indian Culture and History - Links

Here are some other museums and galleries featuring Pueblo, Caddo, Hohokam, Mogollon, and Alaskan pottery and other Indian artifacts and art:
The Heard Museum
Lost City Museum
Navajo Gallery
National Museum
Links to Museums

Index of Other Related Pages from El Centro:

Woodland Peoples: Caddo Links and Outline of Class Discussion

Peoples of the Southwest:

  • Cochise, Mogollon, Mimbres, and Hohokam Page
  • Ancient Pueblo Peoples (Anasazi) and General Southwestern Resources
  • Hopi
  • Zuni
  • Navajo (Dine')

    Related Pages

  • Pottery Page
  • El Centro's American Indians Main Page - General resources, arts and crafts, oral tradition, etc.
  • El Centro's Anthropology and Archaeology Page
  • El Centro's Geography Page
  • Indians of Texas

    Other Pages about Other Collections at the D.M.A.

  • Olmec Page
  • Aztecs and Incas North of Mesoamerica, and South America

    El Centro College History Department