Pueblo Pottery and the Politics
of Regional Identity
Identity, whether regional or personal, is a matter of essences and
incidentals: of asserting some characteristics as core and relegating
others to an epiphenomenal periphery. An older regionalism, for
which the essays in Jensen (1951) stiff offer the best testimony,
treated the construction of regional identities as a process of discovery. The
identity of the Southwest has long been probed in this way,
beginning with works such as Charles Lummis's The Land of Poco
Tiempo (1893) and Ross Calvin's Sky Determines (1934). This
conference, though, is part of an opposite move toward seeing regional
identities themselves as socially constructed, as partial images that
are struggled over within the region. Knitting together an image of
a consistent whole is, for an individual, the key to acquiring and
maintaining a social being. Identity is no less crucial at the level of
large-scale social units, in which the legitimacy of political and cultural
projects is at stake.
Regional identity, removed from its material roots in soil, climate,
core cultural traits, and so on, presents peculiarly difficult problems
for analysis. If regional identity does not rest on real distinctions
between core and periphery, why is it such a persistent concept?
What difference do competing versions of the core characteristics of
a region make in the social life of a society, and how do people go
about making those versions matter? If the Southwest is represented
by some as a recreational playland (Weigle 1989), why are they doing
it, and what are its consequences? Most importantly, how do people
with particular goals actually use their version of the identity of a
region to achieve concrete political ends?
In this essay I explore the contested nature of regional identity in
northern New Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s through an examination of an
organization dedicated to reviving the traditional pottery
of the Pueblo Indians.1 The Indian Arts Fund (IAF) was founded in
Santa Fe in 1925 to collect traditional Pueblo pottery, to provide a
reference for contemporary potters, and to develop a market for traditional
pottery. It set itself against the cheap rain gods, ashtrays, and
flower vases produced for tourists. The IAF's notion of tradition, its
evaluation of contemporary pottery production, and the consequences of its
efforts for the pottery market and for Pueblo
economies are subjects of a larger study of which this essay forms
one part. I want now, though, to direct attention to the IAF's membership (in
particular, its original trustees), a diverse group including
reformers involved in Indian affairs, modernist artists, archaeologists,
writers, dealers, and politicians.2 In particular I ask why the
IAF's members came together around sponsorship of Pueblo pottery and
thus contributed to the construction of a regional identity centered
on the Pueblos.
At first glance the IAF appears as another representative of a much
broader phenomenon: a romantic interest in the arts of Native Americans and
other "primitive" cultures as a reaction against modernity
and change. The membership of the Fund supports this interpretation, albeit
with some anomalies. Various writers have identified a
strong strain of romanticism in the Santa Fe and Taos art colonies,
and Indian reform organizations were clearly shot through with similar
sentiments, with a strong touch of paternalism (Brody 1971;
Frost 1980; Gibson 1983). Others of the Fund's members may well
have been motivated by a serious involvement in Pueblo pottery. For
some, most notably Kenneth Chapman, this interest may properly
be termed consuming. (Chapman, an artist and student of design,
wrote books on the pottery traditions of Santo Domingo 
and San Ildefonso , and even his doodles were invariably
Pueblo pottery designs.)
The problem with these explanations is that the connection between these
sentiments, which were undoubtedly widespread, and
the founding of the Indian Arts Fund is too tenuous. The link translating
cultural tendencies into organizational form is missing: how
did romanticism yield decisions by these particular people to organize around
Indian arts, and by others not to? More generally it is
important, I believe, not to stop with broad labels (whether romanticism, anti-
modernism, paternalism, or others) in explaining action
around regional identity in the Southwest. The danger in such concepts is that
they can be simply redescriptions at a higher level of
abstraction, not explanations. In addition to the pitfalls of tautology,
it is too easy to assign action to vague cultural tendencies and to lose
the benefits of a deeper probing into the politics of what people were
doing.3 We need to ask, for cultural revivals and other efforts with
implications for regional identity, why these people, at this time,
with these goals?
TOURISM AND STATUS POLITICS
In examining these questions for the Indian Arts Fund I follow
the work of a number of sociologists, notably Pierre Bourdieu and
Paul DiMaggio, who argue that patronage and cultural sponsorship
play an important role in conflicts among status groups. DiMaggio
(1982), for example, has linked the founding of several high-culture
institutions in Boston in the nineteenth century to challenges to the
political and social dominance of the Brahmins. Bourdieu's more
general notion of "cultural capital" identifies control over valued cultural
objects and pursuits as a strategy for reproduction of an elite
(Bourdieu & Passeron 1977; Lamont & Laureau 1988).
This argument, which posits a kind of status halo effect linking
patrons and art, does not quite work for the IAF. Native American
art is now, in part because of efforts of groups like the IAF, a legitimate
status item. In the mid-1920s, though, collecting Pueblo pottery as art was an
odd idea. Pottery did not have the status of more traditional objects of
patronage. Pots were either ethnological specimens or cheap souvenirs of a trip
to the Southwest. It is this connection with tourism that helps to make sense of the IAF's composition and ties it to the politics of regional identity. After
the arrival of the transcontinental railroad in 1880, the pueblos
quickly became one of northern New Mexico's prime claims to status
as a tourist attraction. The visible signs were numerous: Indian Detours, nationwide marketing by the Santa Fe Railroad, the Pueblo
architectural "revival," and so on (Thomas 1978; Wilson 1982). By
1927, for example, the success of the Harvey Company's auto trips
to the pueblos demanded a threefold increase in the size of La Fonda,
the company's hotel in Santa Fe, and the company reported a 169
percent increase in tourists taking the Indian Detours over the year
before.4 By 1935, an estimated 125,000 tourists were visiting Santa
Fe annually (Harland Bartholomew & Associates 1947). A survey
taken in the late 1930s recorded that the scenery and the pueblos
were the primary attractions for these tourists, a finding that has
been repeated since.5 Seen over time, through promotional
brochures and guidebooks aimed at attracting visitors and new residents, the shift is clear: from the Santa Fe Railroad's "New Mexico:
Some Practical and Authentic Information About Its Resources"
(1887), which stressed mining and land availability, to the railroad's
"Old Santa Fe and Roundabout" (1923), which focused on recreation, the largest component of which was the pueblos.
As the pueblos loomed larger in what might be called the touristic
landscape of northern New Mexico, they began to occupy an important economic space as well. A constituency developed that was dependent on the continued existence of the pueblos, a constituency
that itself increased in size and importance as tourism became a
major economic base of the region. A field-worker in Santa Fe in the
early 1940s, for example, found that although few Native Americans
lived in the city, "the Indian factor must be considered as one of
primary significance in accounting for the Santa Fe of today ... one
of the chief sources of income in Santa Fe is the tourist business, and
tourism is made more profitable because visitors are interested in the
pueblos and because they like to buy Indian handicraft items displayed in Santa Fe's stores" (Moke 1945).
A letter from Mary Austin, the writer and IAF trustee, to reformer
John Collier on the controversy over the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District gives a useful sense of the resulting politics:
Things going forward in Santa Fe ... Will line up the northern
half of the State pretty well against the south, since they are all
here beginning to realize the Pueblos as an economic asset. At
the best it will be a nasty situation, and I find myself greatly
depressed by it. It is already rotten with politics and capitalistic
interest, and race prejudice.6
Sponsorship of Pueblo pottery, in this context, was not an attempt
to gain status by association with highly valued objects. Rather, it
was an effort to promote a version of regional identity, to make it
concrete, and to capture its political potency for conflicts in which
patrons were engaged. The difficulty of this project should not be
underestimated: the translation of economic shifts into political advantage takes work, both in calling attention to the changes and in
establishing the legitimacy of one's own projects in these new terms.
The Indian Arts Fund had the virtue, for its members, of associating
them visibly with the most powerful metonym for the pueblos, their
pottery, while reinforcing the power of this symbol. In the remainder
of this paper I suggest, for the various IAF trustees, how Pueblo
pottery fit into particular conflicts in which they were engaged and
argue that the very existence of these conflicts had deeper roots in
structural shifts in New Mexico society of which tourism formed but
THE POLITICS OF PUEBLO LAND
Austin was in fact optimistic: the splits produced by the competition between those dependent on land and water resources and those
dependent on tourism, not only divided north from south, but also
ran deep within the society of northern New Mexico. The two sets
of economic and political interests collided over the use of Pueblo
land. The immediate occasion was the Bursum Bill, named for the
U.S. senator from New Mexico who introduced it in Congress in
1922. The bill would have granted title to many Hispanic and Anglo
farmers and ranchers encroaching on Pueblo lands (useful discussions of the legislation may be found in Philp 1970, Hall 1987, and
Kelly 1983). The measure produced a nationwide uproar on behalf
of the pueblos and was eventually supplanted by legislation establishing a board that weighed the merits of individual cases and ordered
land returned or compensation paid to the pueblos.7
The 1920s in northern New Mexico was a time of political flux, as
the dominance of the conservative Old Guard of the Republican
party, of which Bursum was a prominent member, eroded under
pressure from Progressives and the varying allegiances of new arrivals
(Hoover 1966; Russell 1938). The Old Guard, a coalition of Anglo
lawyers, ranchers, and businessmen, depended for its support on
what Holmes (1967, 148) describes as "an increasingly restive base
of Hispanic voters." It was to shore up its support among these
voters that the Bursum Bill was drafted.8
The defeat of the Bursum Bill shocked New Mexico politicians,
signalling as it did a fundamental shift in the political balance of
power. In 1927 A. B. Renehan, attorney for Hispanic and Anglo
landholders attempting to confirm claims to Pueblo lands and one of
the drafters of the Bursum Bill, wrote a revealing letter of complaint
to an Albuquerque newspaper about the attitude of the Santa Fe New
Mexican and its editor:
Dana Johnson seems be activated by the thot [sic], 'Millions
for the Indians, not one cent for the poor devil of a Mexican,
Spanish-American and Anglo Saxon who have made the Indian
desert bloom as the rose, but every man for his own country.
Usually I pay no attention to Dana's mendacity by sneers, for I
have known for a long time his love for the Indian and his
indifference to their Christian neighbors. I can hardly understand how Col. Bronson Cutting [the Progressive Republican
who built his political career on appeal to rural Hispanics, and
who owned the New Mexican] expects to make political headway with the Spanish-American when he permits his agent to
become a spokesman adverse to the Mexican, Spanish-American, Anglo-American and Anglo-sajones.9
Renehan's frustration, and perhaps even his puzzlement, was quite
genuine. He estimated that of ten thousand non-Indians on Pueblo
grants, one-quarter would be displaced. Many of his clients had
farmed the disputed land for generations, yet he saw their interests
being overlooked in favor of Native Americans, who had never
wielded influence in Hispanic and Anglo New Mexico. Returning to
the framework with which I began, the pueblos now seemed to occupy the center of the identity of the region, while others, particularly small Hispanic farmers, were becoming increasingly peripheral.
Many of the IAF's members, including Amelia White, Margaret
McKittrick, Elizabeth Sergeant, Mary Austin, and Mabel Dodge
Lujan, all recent arrivals in northern New Mexico, were active in the
dispute over Pueblo lands through the New Mexico Association on
Indian Affairs (NMAIA), formed in response to the proposed legislation (Mayhew 1984). These reformers used the IAF to call attention
to the economic value of the pueblos, through their pottery, and to
assert a concern for the welfare of the Pueblo Indians that out-
weighed that of local politicians.
Elizabeth Sergeant explicitly noted the connection between the
economic importance of the pueblos and political support in New
Mexico in commenting on the effect of national publicity on local
residents: "The inhabitants of Santa Fe, having been indifferent if
not hostile all these years to the affairs of the Pueblos, are aroused by
their success in the East to the suspicion that they may be an asset
after all. All this work, time, and money has been given by a very
small group, most them not old inhabitants–and the old inhabitants feel aggrieved–and we want to get their cooperation and their
money while they are in the mood!" 10 The Santa Fe New Mexican of April 30, 1923 also called attention to this effect in pointing out that the movement against the Bursum Bill "has done Santa Fe a great
service by advertising the unique historic, science and ethnological
attractions of this region." Having been defeated on the Pueblo land
issue, the leader of the Old Guard, Charles Springer, also joined the
IAF, likely in an attempt to repair the political damage the fight had
The failure of the Bursum Bill graphically revealed the shift in the
politics of northern New Mexico produced by tourism. In placing
the pueblos at the center of the regional economy, tourism produced
a mass of potential supporters of the pueblos in political disputes.
Hispanic farmers, on the other hand, were not tourist attractions
and hence did not have a constituency dependent on their continued
survival. Members of the IAF and the NMAIA, though gratified by
their victory, were in fact distressed at the power of their appeals to
override the interests of small farmers.
Mary Austin, for example, in a speech in 1923 to the National
Popular Government League in Washington on the Bursum Bill,
pointed out that "many of [these farmers] are as innocently victims
of the situation as the Indians themselves, a circumstance which the
Indians readily admit. Others of them are quite deliberately guilty of
thefts which they confidently counted on the Indian Office's not resenting, which as a matter of fact it never has resented." She went on,
however, to make the most important point of all:
There is another valuation of the Pueblos which must not be
overlooked, that is, their value to the average American. I mean
their value as a diversion, as a spectacle, as a form of entertain-
ment, peculiarly our own, not too easily accessible to make
them common, but just far enough removed to make seeing
them one of the few remaining great American adventures.
Every year thousands of automobile parties visit them with interest and delight."11
The failure of Hispanic farmers to prevail in their land claims illustrates the consequences of their lack of value on this dimension, and
of their move to the periphery of regional identity.12
THE ART COLONIES AND MODERNISM
The second group among the trustees were modernists in the
Santa Fe and Taos art colonies, which were important artistic centers
by the 1920s. The first artists settled in Taos in the 1890s, and by the
teens a dozen painters in Taos represented a stable community, with
an identifiable style and subject matter. A Taos-style painting pictured
a Pueblo Indian, probably from Taos Pueblo, usually draped in a
colorful blanket or posed with a pot. The subject was handled with
a concern for accuracy and realism, although filtered through the
conventions of academic and studio painting of the period (Truettner 1986; Coke 1963; Udall 1984). The Taos style was highly successful by the 1920s, with artists arranging travelling exhibitions and commanding large sums for their paintings, and the Santa Fe Railroad using these representations to attract tourists (Gibson 1983;Weigle 1989).
The Taos style was challenged by new developments in the American art world, represented most famously by the 1913 Armory Show
in New York. Modernist painters, critics and dealers, inspired by developments in Europe, criticized the ideal of mimetic representation,
arguing instead for a more experimental art, which would acknowledge
explicitly the materials of art itself and search for universal elements of design (Zilczer 1975).
The debate between modernist and traditionalist painters was carried out in New Mexico as well as in New York. Marsden Hartley, for
example, publicly considered the Taos artists to be hacks, and traditionalists accused the modernists of sloppy, incomprehensible work
(Schimmel 1986). The prominence of the art colonies in the broader
life of the community meant that the conflict spilled over into the
public arena. At one point in this dispute the local newspaper identified modernism with Bolshevism and called for the banning of subversive art from the state-funded Museum of Fine Arts (Udall 1984).
A number of these criticisms used Pueblo art against modernism,
claiming that modern art lacked the simple connection to nature and
the natural world that supposedly characterized Pueblo painting and
pottery. An article in the Santa Fe New Mexican of September 9, 1920,
for example, made this point and concluded that, "In this spirit we
may hope to rescue the galleries of our Art Museum from the fate
which threatens them and no longer be confronted with the trivialities of 'Impressionism' and 'Expressionism.' masquerading under the
name of art and drawing inspiration from a distorted imagination."
Modernist artists in New Mexico attempted to turn this criticism
around by drawing a connection between what they identified as the
aesthetic underlying Native American art–nonrepresentational, organic, concerned with elemental aspects of design and form–and
the features of their own work which differentiated it from traditional, academic American painting (see, for example, Dasburg
1923; Hartley 1920; Lawrence 1926). The modernists associated
with the IAF stressed the intrinsic value of Native American art, just
as modernists elsewhere turned to African art as inspiration and justification for their work (Goldwater 1967).
They also drew attention, however, to the role of the Indian Arts
Fund in educating Native Americans in their own traditions. Andrew
Dasburg, one of the most prominent modernists in New Mexico, in
a 1928 draft for an IAF publication, argued that "art lovers the world
over recognzie the unique art instinct of the Indian" and saw the IAF
as the nucleus for an "Institute of Arts and Crafts for the advancement of the American Indian." Dasburg went on to make a more
specific case for the importance of the IAF's work: "The Indian of
today retains his gift of art. He will continue to exercise it if given the
opportunity and sympathetic guidance without which no art can
develop or continue to exist."13 The IAF was thus made crucial to the
continued production of Pueblo art.
What made this such a potent move in New Mexico was the centrality of the Pueblo Indians both to the traditionalist painters and to
the economic life of the community. Sponsorship of Pueblo arts by
modernists constituted a charge that traditionalists, while using the
Indians and their arts as subject matter, had failed to grasp the aesthetic behind their art. Frank Applegate, for example, a modernist
and later trustee of the Indian Arts Fund, wrote to a friend in New
York in 1922 that "there are about 20 painters here, some of them
moderns and some pot boilers painting romantic Indian subjects."14
This distinction, which cast traditionalist painters in the role of
exploiters of the Pueblos rather than benefactors, was an important
one. For the modernists, the IAF aided in claiming the authority of
an important cultural icon in the Santa Fe and Taos art colonies, the
Pueblo artist, to legitimate their own artistic experimentation and to
counter attacks on their work.
ARCHAEOLOGISTS AND THE POLITICS OF PROFESSIONALIZATION
The group with the largest representation on the fund was archaeologists and museum anthropologists, located both in New Mexico
and elsewhere. The presence of these anthropologists seems to offer
the easiest case for explanation: archaeologists, who were professionally involved in the analysis of prehistoric pottery, were therefore
also interested in contemporary production. This was true to a limited extent: Carl Guthe, for example, one of the original IAF trustees,
did a pioneering ethnoarchaeological study of pottery making at
San Ildefonso in connection with the excavations at Pecos (Guthe
1925). The archaeologists, however, were not drawn to the IAF's
work for its scientific value, which they saw as limited. Instead, the
IAF was a convenient organizational base in the Southwest for archaeologists involved in conflicts precipitated by the professionalization of anthropology.
Archaeologists saw in the Indian Arts Fund an opportunity to
establish an organizational beachhead in New Mexico in opposition to local scientists, most notably Edgar Hewett of the School of
American Research, whom archaeologists located in major academic
institutions regarded as incompetent (Fowler 1989). Hewett himself perceived the laboratory in this way, as evidenced by numerous
statements, including a letter to Byron Cummings of the University
of Arizona in 1928 describing the lab as part of "a concerted plan
looking toward the control of our Southwestern field from the outside."15 (See Stocking 1982 for a useful study of the early history of the lab that stresses the role of conflict between national and regional archaeologists.)
John D. Rockefeller's interest in the IAF (he was its first major
funder, providing fifteen thousand dollars over a three-year period
beginning in 1926) handed the archaeologists the entree to gain support for a far larger project, the Laboratory of Anthropology.16 The
lab quickly became a center for archaeology and ethnology in the
Southwest. The summer field schools, modelled on the training programs at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Research Institute, brought
anthropologists and graduate students from all over the country to
conduct research in the Southwest. The lab also served as a clearinghouse for Southwestern research and was instrumental in forming a
ceramics assemblage that still plays an important role in reconstructing Southwestern prehistory (Stocking 1982).
The IAF was important beyond its role in attracting Rockefeller's
support. Hewett also accused the lab of being a cover for eastern
institutions intent on removing artifacts from New Mexico for their
own museums, a charge that had some historical precedent. Casting
the lab as an outsider threatened both to impel the legislature to
restrict the lab's archaeological work and to deprive the lab of local
support and funding. A. V. Kidder, the chairman of the lab and an
IAF trustee, used the IAF to counter this charge in a letter to J. F.
Zimmerman, president of the University of New Mexico.
You are perhaps not aware that the Museum-Laboratory is,
practically speaking, the direct offspring of the Indian Arts
Fund, an institution founded and supported by citizens and
friends of New Mexico who felt that neither the State Museum
nor the School of American Research was making effective efforts to gather and preserve the fast-vanishing pottery, textiles
and other products of the Pueblo Indians. The Indian Arts
Fund, which exists for the sole purpose of saving these things
for New Mexico, has not only gone on record as heartily endorsing the aims of the Museum-Laboratory, but has offered
to deposit its priceless collection of pottery with that institution, "pending the working out of a closer affiliation."17
The instrumental relation between the lab and the IAF (the lab
housed the IAF's collections, and some IAF members served on the
lab's board) produced considerable and continuing ambivalence
among the scientists associated with the lab. A. L. Kroeber, an anthropologist at Berkeley, expressed this ambivalance clearly in a letter
to A. V Kidder, on the faculty of the Phillips Academy and chairman
of the lab, in the summer of 1929: "The popular-aesthetic-social
demand is going to be satisfied anyway because it Will be around and
insistent. Once it gets the upper hand, it will be damn hard to get
any real science started. I think we ought to shoot straight at the
latter. There'll be enough sag in the trajectory to take care of the
wants of the unscientific."18 While the Indian Arts Fund had served
as the nucleus of the Laboratory of Anthropology, and was a critical
factor in attracting Rockefeller's funding and in obtaining local support, it was regarded as a distraction after it had served this purpose.
It was a distraction, however, that testified to the enduring power of
the IAF's appeal: the fund continued to be essential to the lab's funding through the 1930s, particularly after Rockefeller cut back his
support (Stocking 1982).
ART AND COMMERCE IN SANTA FE
The growing importance of tourism and the pueblos produced
threats as well as opportunities, even for those invested in the centrality of the pueblos in the identity of the region. In particular, artists
and writers in Santa Fe and Taos struggled with businessmen over
control of the nature and benefits of tourism. The most visible sign
of this opposition came in 1926, when the Chamber of Commerce
and a group of club women from Texas proposed the construction of
a culture colony which would draw thousands of summer visitors to
Santa Fe to take classes and attend lectures. Opponents formed the
Old Santa Fe Association, led by Mary Austin, to oppose the colony.
It is interesting to note and, as I'll suggest below, important, that
nearly all of the members of the association were new arrivals, in
New Mexico less than five years.19
The artists' principal objection was to what they called an "incorporated army" of tourists, organized by businessmen and producing
far more income than did the artists (Chauvenet 1983, 181). This
characterization of the proposal reflected the artists' understanding
of the consequences of such an invasion for their role as controllers
of a scarce and highly prized resource, Santa Fe's reputation as a
cultural center. It was not tourism per se that artists objected to
(after all, tourists formed a major part of their own income) but
tourism managed by others. Their successful victory over the culture
colony was followed by other battles, including an attempt to prevent the Santa Fe Railroad from sponsoring the annual Fiesta.20
For the artists, the Indian Arts Fund represented not only an attempt to revive the production of traditional Pueblo pottery, but
also a way to insert themselves into the existing marketing structure
for Native American arts. The most common means for marketing
Pueblo pottery during this period were direct sales by potters to
tourists and residents in Santa Fe, at railroad stations and in the
pueblos, and sales of pottery by retailers in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. The IAF, through involvement in the annual Indian Fair, marketing of pots, and mounting of travelling exhibitions, inserted artists into the exchange relation between Native Americans and tourists. By tying the art colony to the economic importance of the pueblos, artists attempted to avoid being rendered irrelevant by the increasing economic importance of the pueblos.
Additional evidence of the importance that this segment of the
IAF placed on this role came in the debate in the early 1930s over a
government bill establishing an agency to promote and market Indian arts. (See Schrader 1983 for a history of the resulting organization, the Indian Arts and Crafts Board.) Members of the Indian Arts
Fund, led by Mary Austin, protested that the fund, by virtue of its
experience and knowledge, should play a large role in any government effort. They particularly objected to government involvement
in marketing, arguing that the new agency should instead support the fund's educational programs.21 This argument closely paralleled their case against the culture colony: it was not tourism or the commercialization of pueblo arts that they objected to, but the emergence
of a competing organization that would dilute the importance of
artists and writers in directing and controlling their benefits.
REGIONAL CHANGE AND REGIONAL IDENTITY
I have focused on the particularities of the conflicts in which the
IAF played a role, in order to show how Pueblo pottery took on
political significance in a range of situations. It is also important to
notice their similarity. They all grew out of tensions between new
arrivals and older elites: between local politicians and cosmopolitan
reformers, between traditionalist painters and modernists with roots
in New York and Europe, between established merchants and an
influx of artists and writers, and between regionally based archaeologists and archaeologists at institutions with national status and scope.
The common structure of these disputes grew out of their shared
roots in a broad shift in regional society.
This shift is best described as the integration of northern New
Mexico into the larger national society, economy, and polity. Before
the arrival of the railroad in New Mexico elite status, particularly
within the Anglo community, depended on control of one of the few
lines of access to eastern bases of political power and economic capital. Merchant capitalists, for example, dominated their trade areas by
access to markets for selling the produce of local farmers and for
credit for buying imported goods (Parish 1961). Politicians depended on ties to Washington, which held the power of appointment to territorial office (Lamar 1970). This was actually a continuation of an earlier pattern, in which connections in Spain and Mexico, and more importantly control over trade, were important aids to status(Hall 1989, 155-64).
The extension of the railroad into northern New Mexico in 1880
marked the beginning of the end of the viability of this strategy (on
the effect of the railroad see Heath ; for an important analysis
of the social and political dimensions of regional integration in the
American West see Meinig [ 1972]). The increasing volume and variety of ties to the rest of the nation made isolation obsolescent as a
basis for status and power. Elites faced a range of challenges as the
trickle of contact with the rest of the nation became a flood, from
competition from national firms, immigrants with different political
orientations and demands and, as in the case of tourism, new and
destabilizing economic pursuits. It was thus not simply tourism that
put regional identity into play. It was the growing instability of an
older social order, which produced new groups with a stake in a
revised image of what was central and what was peripheral to the
As Erving Goffman (1979) points out, advertisements, which
must communicate a seemingly natural set of associations in a single
image, are often prime sources for locating the artifices of culture.
While Goffman uses this insight to examine displays of gender roles,
it can as easily be applied to regional identity. A recent ad for a shop
in San Francisco selling Southwestern art, called simply "Santa Fe,"
illustrates well the chain of linked identities resulting from the action
I have been discussing, each with its own core and implicit
periphery: the ad identifies the Southwest with Santa Fe; Santa Fe,
through a picture of a Santa Clara wedding vase, with the Pueblos;
and the Pueblos, through the single image in the ad, with their
That this kind of representation "works," that it makes immediate
sense, testifies to the success of a century of politics and commerce
around regional identity in the Southwest. Its very economy,
though, is misleading, tempting us to look for the people who set
out to transform the identity of the region, to move the pueblos to
the center and rural Hispanics to the periphery. It is more accurate
to describe this outcome as an accretion of acts directed toward
other, more limited objectives. The Indian Arts Fund, for example,
played important roles both in crystallizing the connection between
pottery and the pueblos and in harnessing the political potential of
the pueblos by calling attention to their economic importance. It did
so, however, in the pursuit of far more limited goals. In fact, as I
noted above, many of the IAF's members resisted the implications of
the version of regional identity on which they traded. Sylvia Rodriguez (1989) makes a similar point in arguing that artists did not
consciously set out to mystify social relations in northern New
Mexico; mystification was a by-product of their success in marketing
an image of the region and its inhabitants.
It may be that this politics of indirection is particularly likely to
occur under tourism. Tourism, after all, is itself concerned with essential cores and incidental peripheries, with "sights" and blank spaces
between (MacCannell 1989, 50). In a larger sense, though, it is the
effort to discern identity itself that invites partial representations, in
fact requires them. The problem is not that the Indian Arts Fund, or
even promoters of tourism, took a stab and got it wrong. It is that
constructing, regional identities is always a process of creation, never
of discovery. The Indian Arts Fund and its members saw in the
changed context of northern New Mexico in the 1920s the opportunity to press quite specific claims by referring to symbols which became charged, by their reference, with new meanings.
- I am being deliberately vague about what "northern New Mexico" includes, but I take the core to be the comparatively densely populated Rio Arriba, comprising the area centered on the Rio Grande and its tributaries from Santa Fe north. For introductions to the Pueblos, see Eggan (1979) and Dozier (1970).
- For descriptions of the IAF, see Amon Carter Museum of Western Art (1966) and Toulouse (1977). The IAF's original trustees were Frank Applegate, Mary Austin, Kenneth Chapman, Andrew Dasburg, Samuel Guernsey, Herbert J. Hagerman, Mrs. Meredith Hare, Frederick Webb Hodge, Alfred V Kidder, Irene Lewisohn, Mabel Dodge Lujan, James MacMillan, Margaret McKittrick, Harry Mera, Sylvanus Morley, B. J. 0. Nordfeldt, Mrs. Richard Pfaffle, Marie Robinson, James Seligman, Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, Mrs. Joseph Lindon Smith, Charles Springer, Nathan Stern, Mrs. Maurice Wertheim, and Amelia Elizabeth White.
- The suggestion by a number of participants in the conference that we need to describe a "Southwestemism" similar to the "Orientalism" examined by Said (1978) raises similar difficulties. A body of academic writing and "knowledge," tied intimately to colonial occupation and administration never emerged in the American context, where the problems of colonialism were first seen as military, then as assimilationist. If social control is at issue, then we need to identify agents and threats. If it is tourism which produces this
representation, then we need to determine whether Orientalism is in fact the most fruitful analogy.
- "Santa Fe and the Indian Detour to Have Largest and Finest Harvey Hotel," August 8, 1927 (Indian Detour Bulletin #9). Laboratory of Anthropology, Santa Fe (hereafter "LAB"), Folder 89LA2.012
- National Archives, Denver Branch, Record Group 75 (Bureau of Indian Affairs),United Pueblos Agency Records, General Superintendent's Decimal File 1938-44, Box 28, File "660-Publications." The survey was given to 8,000 tourists, of whom 550 responded.
- Mary Austin to John Collier, no date [1927 or 1928]. John Collier Papers (Microfilm Edition, hereafter "Collier Papers"), Reel 1.
- An article entitled "Terriffic [sic] Barrage Aimed at Pueblo Indian Bill All Over the United States," in the Santa Fe New Mexican of December 6, 1922, contains a useful description of the reaction to the bill: "Seldom has a proposed piece of national legislation or a public man had to bear the brunt of such a universal press fusillade as that now being directed throughout the country against the so-called Bursum Indian Bill and against
Secretary of the Interior Fall (also from New Mexico) as its alleged chief sponsor. Newspapers and magazines from San Francisco to New York, organizations ranging from the National Federation of Women's Clubs to the Girl Scouts, and art, archaeological and ethnological associations have united in this barrage, and it is doubtful if any measure so 'purely local,' as Senator Bursum says, in its effect has ever before aroused in this country such an upheaval of popular indignation." The article goes on to cite negative commentary
from a wide range of sources.
- See, for example, Francis Wilson to George Vaux, November 6, 1922: "There is intense bitterness here amongst those who are friendly to the Indians because the Republican party has made the Bill a party measure and is using it in the present campaign as a ground for getting votes amongst the settlers on Indian lands." New Mexico State Records Center and Archives, Francis C. Wilson Papers, Folder 1401, Expandable 101.
- Copy in New Mexico State Records Center and Archives, Renehan-Gilbert Papers,Folder #68. On Renehan's involvement in the drafting of the Bursum Bill, see A. B. Renehan to Frank Bond, December 1, 1922, Renehan-Gilbert Papers, Folder #69.
- Elizabeth Sergeant to E.W. Hodge, February 9, 1923. Southwest Museum, Los Angeles, Frederick W. Hodge Collection (hereafter "Hodge Collection").
- "Speech of Mary Austin before the National Popular Government League on The Burson [sic] Bill, Washington, D.C., Jan. 17, 1923." Huntington Library, Mary Austin Collection (hereafter "Austin Collection" ), Folder AU 5 1. Austin also differed with Collier on the relative importance of Pueblo and Hispanic claims, telling him that her support for the American Indian Defense Association was necessarily limited by her concern for Hispanics (Collier to Austin, April 19, 1927, Collier Papers, Reel 1, Frame 182).
- While there is not space to explore this topic, the effect on social relations among Anglos, Hispanics, and Native Americans of tourism, has been analyzed most thoroughly for Taos by Bodine (1968) and Rodriguez (1987; 1989).
- Indian Arts Research Center, School of American Research, Santa Fe (hereafter "SAR"), Box "Indian Arts Fund 1928," Folder "IAF Bulletin."
- Frank Applegate to Mary Mowbray-Clarke, May 2, 1922. Archives of American Art, John and Mary Mowbray-Clarke Papers, Reel D169, Frames 497-500.
- Edgar Hewett to Byron Cummings, January 3, 1928. Museum of New Mexico,Edgar L. Hewett Collection (hereafter "Hewett Collection"), Box 37, Folder "Museum and Laboratory of Anthropology." Hewett also complained on numerous occasions that the lab duplicated the efforts of the School of American Research, a charge that was, of course, true.
- For evidence for this relation, sec "Report of the Survey Committee for the Laboratory of Anthropology," October 20, 1936: "We understand that Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., first became interested in Southwestern anthropology through the Indian Arts Fund, which thus is in a sense the parent of the Laboratory of Anthropology." LAB, Folder 89LA3.020.21. See also Kenneth Chapman to Howard Eric, August 5, 1931,SAR, Box "Indian Arts Fund 1929." Chapman describes the Laboratory as the "outgrowth of Mr. Rockefeller's interest in our [the IAF's] work."
- A. V. Kidder to J. F. Zimmerman, February 14,1928. Hewett Collection, Box 37, Folder "Museum and Laboratory of Anthropology, #1."
- A. L. Kroeber to A. V. Kidder, no date. [summer 1929]. SAR, Chapman Transfile #2, Envelope #52, Folder "Correspondence re Founding of Laboratory 1927-1931."See also Fay Cooper-Cole of the University of Chicago to A. V Kidder, December 9,1935: "I am not particularly interested in providing another museum for Santa Fe or the Southwest, neither am I concerned to any extent with the art development described to me by Strong. However valuable both may be, they do not in any way fulfill the ideals we had in mind when the Laboratory was established." SAR, Chapman Transfile #2, Envelope #52, Folder "Correspondence re Founding of Laboratory 1927-1931."
- Anonymous letter to Edgar Hewett, December 5, 1926. Hewett Collection, Box #31, Folder "Correspondence 1926, #2." While this statement is contained in a generally hostile report, the sense that the association was composed of relative newcomers is likely accurate.
- This effort is described in Paul A. F. Walter to Edgar Hewett, May 24, 1927.Hewett Collection, Box 44, Folder "Walter, P. A. F."
- See a series of letters between Mary Austin and John Collier, January 31, 1930-May 26, 1930. Collier Papers, Reel 1, Frames 191-205. On April 20, 1930, for example, Austin wrote that "The Indian Arts Foundation [sic] means business, the business of rescuing Indian artists from government futility, of fostering Indian talent, of educating the American public to appreciate it, and of finding a market for high quality Indian products. We have been successful beyond our greatest expectations. We would be very glad to count you in on this work. I think the wisest thing you could do would be to become a member of the Foundation, and avail yourself of its highly specialized aid." Austin made similar points in an exchange of letters with Secretary of the Interior Wilbur
in 1930 and 1931 (Austin Collection).
- The ad appeared in the New York Times, May 24, 1990.
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