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Supported by affluent friends, the Museum of the American Indian was built. Heye deeded his entire collection to it, endowed the museum, and was named Director for Life. However, with the loss of two major benefactors in , Heye lost the backing that made much of his collecting possible, and after the Depression, focused more on buying individual items, often from dealers, and collections assembled by others, often without sufficient documentation.

Having accumulated more than , objects by , Heye continued to build the collections, albeit more slowly, until his death in , at which point they numbered over , catalog numbers representing perhaps , individual items. In , Fredrick J. Through purchases and exchanges, Dockstader also acquired important ethnographic and archaeological pieces, reorganized the exhibits, and published a series of books on the collections.


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Additions to the collection were limited, numbering fewer than items. An elaborately decorated wooden summer house is visible on top of the mound behind Heye. Harrington, a young archaeologist who traveled throughout the United States, Mexico, and Cuba, conducting archaeological digs, visiting tribal communities, and collecting objects between and Long sealed by an earthquake, Lovelock Cave had been used for storage and shelter by Native peoples for several thousand years.

Fashioned from tule reeds and feathers, the decoys once lured waterfowl to hunters in the marshlands of ancient Lake Lahontan.


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  4. Ventura, California. The lodge was built by Chumash men under the direction of John P. Harrington, who also took this photograph. When he died in , Heye had amassed some 27, objects from the Native peoples of the Pacific Northwest. These traditional gift-giving ceremonies were banned by Canadian authorities from until the law was repealed in In , he acquired an additional 11 objects from the wife of the Canadian Mountie who had assisted in prosecuting the participants of the potlatch.

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    George Gustav Heye with Elsie Copper Saanich and her brother, who is wearing traditional dance regalia including a headdress, wristbands, sash, kneebands, and a staff or spear, , East Saanich Reserve, British Columbia. Photo by William A. The masks were worn during dances to please animal spirits and ensure success in hunting.

    Each mask was worn once and discarded, its spiritual energy depleted.

    History of the Collections

    Twitchell in Speck, an anthropologist who collected objects from the Innu Montagnais—Naskapi of northeastern Labrador. Designs on coats, leggings, and blankets, such as the one shown in this section, symbolize a desire to honor the spirit of the caribou, ensuring successful hunting. This New Deal—era agency was created within the U. Department of the Interior to benefit Native people by expanding the market for Indian-made art. June 7, Sunday, September 3, Sunday, April 17, January 12, Published November 6th, Western Art Collector, article by Christy A.

    E35, NY, NY.

    Southwest Mag. Art in America, review by Richard Vine, January , p. Rigby, Pacific Beach, CA. Wolff, Boston, MA. Published by D.

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    Distributed Art Publishers , NY. Published by University of Arkansas Press, Published by Duke University Press. Calloway, pub. Martin's, Boston, NY, p. Richard West, Jr.

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