Exploring Native American History and Culture at the Amerind Museum

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Baby boomers, are you planning a trip to Tucson? If you’re interested in Native American culture and archaeology, take the time to drive out to boulder-studded Texas Canyon for a visit to the Amerind Museum. Located in the Little Dragoon Mountains southeast of Tucson, the anthropological and archaeological museum houses the largest private collection of Native American artifacts and art in the country.

Fulton-Hayden Memorial Art Gallery, Amerind Museum
Fulton-Hayden Memorial Art Gallery, Amerind Museum

The pink, Spanish colonial style building, formerly the ranch of industrialist William S. Fulton, offers a cool respite on the hot, June day when Alan and I visit. The building feels strangely familiar to me. And it should. Designed by Merritt Starkweather, architect of  the Arizona Inn, it shares many of the same design elements with the historic Tucson lodging establishment.

Inside the main gallery, a 130-year-old Apache basket, found in a cave in the nearby Peloncillo Mountains, takes center stage. Throughout the room, original artifacts trace Native American history and culture from the Inuits in Alaska through the tribal communities of North America, continuing on to Mexico and South America.  A second gallery on the first floor explores William S. Fulton’s journey from amateur archaeologist to expert.

On the second floor, stop by the Ethnology Room which includes a large display of artifacts depicting the Apache culture. There’s even a bow made and signed by Geronimo. Another room displays colorful Hopi paintings. Next door, in the Fulton-Hayden Memorial Art Gallery, you’ll see the Fulton’s private art collection, including two pieces by Frederic Remington. A separate gallery space features a revolving exhibit of Native American art.

More than a museum, the Amerind Foundation conducts research dedicated to preserving and understanding Native American cultures. It also sponsors events, workshops and tours.

The picnic area on the Amerind grounds would have enticed us on a cooler day. Alan and I have put a return visit to the Amerind and the Dragoon Mountains on our travel list. Next time, we’ll explore the Cochise Stronghold while staying at one of the area’s bed and breakfasts.

Do you have tips for visiting the Dragoon Mountains and Cochise Stronghold? Have you been to the Amerind Museum? Post a comment to share your experiences. I’ll be taking notes.

Disclosure: This travel experience was provided by the Amerind Museum.

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