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Navajo and Apeche indians exhibits and permanent collections in the museum. Guide and description for visitors.    
 
 
American Museum of Natural History .

WEST WING
INDIANS OF THE SOUTHWEST
The collections from this hall of the
American Museum of Natural History have been secured chiefly from the States of Arizona and New Mexico. While this area is generally thought of as an arid region, it is well adapted to certain kinds of agriculture. In it are found many prehistoric remains, some of which are undoubtedly the work of tribes still living, while others are further removed. For purposes of study the collections have been divided so as to place those secured from the Nomadic tire dance is under the direction of an old man, who is the keeper of the "flat pipe," the most sacred possession of the tribe, which is believed to have been the first thing that existed in the world. This pipe is wrapped in a large bundle, which is hung on a stand of four sticks set up at the foot of the tree in the center of the lodge.

The hoop carried by the indians of the southwest who has pledged the dance is also sacred. Some of the paintings on the bodies of the dancers represent thunder birds, water monsters, dragon flies, trees and lightning. Every dance is held in a new lodge, which is erected very carefully with new ceremonies. At the conclusion of the dance the lodge is abandoned and allowed to fall to pieces. In former times, on the last day of the dance the dancers passed ropes of rawhide through the skin of their breast, and tied them to the sacred tree. They then threw them-selves backward until the ropes were torn out of the skin. This self-torture gave the dance the name of "Sacrifice Lodge."

Indians of the southwest—Eastern and Western Apache, Navajo, Pima, Papago and several tribes of Californian Indians—on the right, and those from the Sedentary peoples—those living or who lived in pueblos, caves and cliff dwellings—on the left.

The Eastern Apache, having no fixed habitations, generally lived in buffalo-skin or canvas-covered tipis. Traveling from place to place in search of game, they trans-ported only such material as was not easily broken; thus, the visitor will find but few examples of pottery from these tribes. Such as they did make is noted for its durability, but is lacking in decoration. Their basketry, on the contrary, is well represented. That from the Jicarilla has a foundation of twigs of sumach or willow. They employed vegetable dyes made from the root bark of the mountain mahogany, which gives red, and the root of the barberry, which gives yellow. At the present time they generally use aniline dyes.

The Mescalero Apache, on the contrary, choose the leaves of the narrow-leaved yucca plant in different stages of ripeness and dryness and compose artistic schemes without the use of dyes. Both tribes weave geometrical designs in triangles, rectangles and bands, representing certain objects such as mountains, houses, trails, gates, etc. Their basketry water bottles are coated inside with pinon pitch, which renders the vessel water-tight. Be-sides basketry there are exhibited other specimens illustrating their daily life.

The Western Apache lived in thatched houses; they planted fields of corn each year, making use of irrigation when feasible. Their basketry is similar to that of the Eastern Apache, but it is ornamented in black and white, the white obtained by splitting and shaving willow twigs, the black from the long curved pods of the devil's-claw or unicorn-plant. Samples of beadwork, dress, implements of warfare, food and ceremonial objects are shownhere in this section of the American Museum of Natural History.

The Navajo, a large and widely scattered tribe, are well known as the present-day blanket makers of North America. In early times they probably wore garments of buck-skin, and they continue to use buckskin moccasins. It is believed that the Navajo did not weave before the coming of the Spanish in 1540. Since the Spanish occupation they have acquired large flocks of sheep, learned how to shear, wash the wool, spin it into yarn and dye it. For a loom a simple frame in which the web is placed vertically is used. The weaving is begun at the bottom, the blanket being lowered as the work progresses. The woof is inserted by the fingers without the aid' of a shuttle, continuing only so far across the web as that particular color is needed. The next color is then taken up. Such a blanket has both sides alike in pattern and color, a result difficult to produce by machinery. The woof strands are pressed down with a fork of wood and then firmly beaten down with a batten, the result being a blanket in one piece and quite thick. The collections are replete with wonderful examples of the weaver's art. The Navajo are also adept silversmiths. Many specimens of bracelets, belts, rings and other articles of personal adornment, which have been hammered out from Mexican silver currency, together with the implements used in manufacture, are installed.

 

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