Monday, May 12, 2014

Heard Museum of American Indian Art and Hisory

(Phoenix, AZ) Hi  86 Lo 59 -- We did some online searching of things to do in the Phoenix area and found the Heard Museum in north Phoenix. I have been interested in American Indian culture, artifacts, and way of life for as long as I can remember. If there’s a chance to learn more I jump on it. This looked like an opportunity to learn about the tribes of the Southwest, and it didn’t disappoint me.  (Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)


The museum has many galleries devoted to the history of the Southwestern tribes, with a balance of historical information, actual artifacts, and artists' works.

Traditional homelands of the tribes before the 1800’s...

... and the locations of the tribes' reservations today.

We started out with a guided tour. A very knowledgeable lady gave a good overview of the exhibits, and it was well worth the time.

There were hundreds of examples of pottery and baskets on display, and our guide explained the differences in the designs between the tribes.

Story telling dolls.

This was an elaborate art piece that symbolized the history of the American Indians. The long poles were from mesquite trees, and the bowls started out as pottery symbolizing ancient times on one end, and transitioned to glass for the modern era at the other end. The mesquite trunks served as a fence.


This bird with many wings represents the day the first atomic bomb was exploded in New Mexico, which tremendously affected the tribes of the area. They are still having cancer problems because of it.

Beautiful jewelry.

I love the katsina dolls (sometimes called kachina dolls), and there were hundreds of them on display. A collection of about 400 of them was donated by Barry Goldwater, the long time Arizona Senator.

There were comical ones, like this guy chasing a chicken.

Many of the designs have to do with water. There’s an ear of corn in the center of the headdress for the crops that result from the rain, feathers represent clouds, and a rainbow on the chin means the end of the rain.


This was an example of a building used for tribe meetings and ceremonies. The guide led us into the building, and we had to circle around the edge of the inside wall, with men staying on one side and women the other.

A wedding display. The baskets are made for the bride and the white outfit will be worn. The baskets are gifts for the bride.

Before the wedding the bride's mother can say anything she wants about the groom, but after the marriage she can no longer say anything bad about him. (Wouldn't it be nice if it was that way today?)  :)

One gallery had beautiful murals painted along the top of the walls.


I love beadwork. I used to work with beads, but my eyesight just won’t allow it any more.

Carrying a baby is very convenient with these cradle boards. Just put him or her on your back.

The courtyard was very nice. There were several galleries on both floors.


We learned about the Cochineal beetle. It's a little insect that invades cactus plants. They would be harvested and crushed to make red dye for yarns and other materials.

The red colors on this tapestry was dyed from Cochineal.

We spent three wonderful hours browsing all the exhibits. If you have any interest at all in Native American art or culture, we highly recommend you visit the Heard Museum if you come to Phoenix. The admission is $18, or $13.50 if you're over 65.

We learned about a type of bread baked by Navajo indians called frybread. We learned of a restaurant close by called Sacred Hogan, which is run by a Navajo gentleman. We decided to give it a try. Jim had the hamburger taco and I had a regular taco (beans, tomato, lettuce and cheese). We both loved them.

We got a nice big slice of frybread to bring home. Later this evening we're going to warm it up and then douse it with powdered sugar and honey. Mmmm!

We got back home before the rush hour got too bad and settled in for the evening. Tomorrow we’ll be out and about again. See you then!


Donna W. said...

very interesting. always nice to find something like this that you are so interested in. we have really given the native amer a raw deal in this country

Speedy said...

Love Indian artifacts. We have visited many reservations in our journeys and learned about many tribes. Have you been to Cherokee in N. Carolina? We enjoyed that trip.

Jerry n Kimberly Peterson said...

We loved visiting that museum when we lived in the area.

Take the time to check out the Pioneer Living Museum...interesting place and a restaurant attached with some good food!

Phyllis said...

Years ago I saw a show on Food Network about a little out of the way place in AZ that served frybread. Took a detour and found it. Goodness, it was big enough for maybe 10 people to sit. Wonder how they found it.

I am not a person for jewelry but I do like the silver and turquoise. Bet you're seeing a lot of it in that area.

Dizzy-Dick said...

This is the first time I have heard that the A-bomb tests affected the Native Americans of the area. What? Were they still being shot at???

I love the picture of the clown trying to catch a chicken. Now, that is funny. I know an Indian and he has great sense of humor.

Ron and Cyndi said...

I have always wanted to visit the Heard Museum. I enjoyed your pictures of the exhibits. We are wishing you safe travels as you tour the southwest and points beyond.

Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Good tour, always enjoy that type of museum:)

KarenInTheWoods Karen Pfundtner said...

Looks like an interesting place! I have dyed with cochineal bugs and they do make the prettiest fuchsia color. LOVE fry bread! We used to get it from the pow wow from the Chippewa Tribe that they held near our campground as kids in the UP of Michigan. If it didn't all sell to the tourists, they would give us the leftovers to take back to our camper! My brother used to run the sound system and lights for the trails to the ceremonial bowl as part of his job at the campground. So we had an "IN" with the Indians! LOL

Karen and Steve
(Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard