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New Mexico Indians in the Brooklyn museum. Collections and Galleries. Zuni, Hopi, Navajo and Apache.    
 
 
THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM

NEW MEXICO INDIANS

Prayer sticks, images, parts of an altar and other objects from the Chukati shrine, an old cave shrine of the Little Fire Society, together with sacrificial war clubs, miniature pottery vessels and other objects taken from shrines, are shown in the succeeding cases. The last case on this side of the hall contains exhibits of Zuni basketry, cooking and other implements, plume boxes and household articles.

A model of the pueblo of Acoma, a town of the Keres Indians in New Mexico, and the oldest inhabited settlement in the United States, is exhibited at this end of this hall of the Brooklyn Museum, and on the other side of the hall is a model of the Tewa village of Hano. Other exhibits from New Mexico Indians, the Keres and Tewa Indians will be found in Room 3.

The remaining exhibits in Room 4 of the Brooklyn Museum are derived from the Hopi, Apache, Navajo and prehistoric cliff-dwelling Indians.

Those from the Hopi, whose seven towns are located within the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, are at the west end of the hall and consist principally of masks, dolls and implements for games, similar to those of the Zuni, also blankets and wearing apparel, in the weaving, dyeing and embroidering of which the Hopi are particularly skilled.

Fragments of ancient Hopi masks and pottery found in a case of the Canon de Chelly are of special interest as showing that it was once occupied by one of the Hopi clans.
A very large and important collection, from the prehistoric cliff-dwelling Indians of the Canon de Chelly, occupies the greater number of the cases on the north side of the hall, as well as all the shallow cases on the north wall.
 
This canon, well known for its cliff ruins, is in the heart of the ancient pueblo region in the present Navajo Indian Reservation in northern Arizona. Its vertical sides of red sandstone, in some places more than 800 feet high, with natural recesses in the rocks and with small cultivable areas at the bottom, made it a natural residential strong-hold for the Indians, who built their houses high up in the caves. The first settlements there are very old, the last quite recent, and it is uncertain whether the occupancy of the cliffs began 500 or 5,000 years ago. The dry climate has preserved the remains of the cliff-dwellers extremely well, and they throw interesting light upon the life and customs of the Indians before the time of foreign contact. A large collection of cliff-dweller pottery is exhibited, the cooking pots and storage jars being of simple coiled ware left unsmoothed and showing in their structure the method of manufacture, the finer kinds of pottery being smooth and decorated. The stone and bone implements used by the cliff-dwellers who lived in a Stone Age, their basketry and weaving and the raw materials used for these are exhibited, as well as human remains, excavated from graves, wrapped in yucca cord blankets and covered with baskets. Remains of domestic turkeys and eagles, the latter kept for their feathers, are also shown. This fine collection and the mass of illustrative material accompanying it make possible a comprehensive study of the life of the primitive Indian.

The remaining cases on the north side of this hall of the Brooklyn Museum are devoted to collections from the Navajo and Apache. These peoples did not live in towns like the Zuni and Hopi, but in scattered dwellings, and are comparatively late corners to this region. A set of masks used in the ebichai, or "Dance of the Giants," is shown in the case at the extreme northwest corner of the hall. A life-size model of a Navajo medicine man in native costume, with his medicine bags beside him and a "bull-roarer" in his hand, is shown opposite the entrance at this end of the hall. The contents of a medicine bag and a collection of objects used in the healing ceremonies are shown in a near-by case.

A collection of objects found with the remains of a band of Navajo killed in the Canon del Muerto, or "Canon of the Dead," dates from about the end of the eighteenth century. This canon is a branch of the Canon de Chelly, and its name is derived from the number of bodies of ancient peoples found interred there. Pottery, weapons, games, spindles, arrows and utensils are comprised in this exhibit.

 

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