History, Department of
Shaping a New Way: White Women and the Movement to Promote Pueblo Indian Arts and Crafts, 1900-1935
Date of this Version
In the first decades of the twentieth century, many white Americans became involved in an effort to promote Indian arts and crafts, particularly in the Southwest and among the Pueblo Indians. Some scholars have placed this effort within the context of the larger arts and crafts movement in Britain and the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. Historians have explained this movement as a reaction against industrial production and as a related search for authenticity. Believing that industrialization had produced a mass culture of imitation, destroyed communal bonds, and divested work of its inherent worth, arts and crafts movement supporters sought "authentic" objects and experience in preindustrial cultures and modes of production. Other scholars have argued that the white elites who patronized Indian arts consciously attempted to redefine the Southwestern identity and economy--to transform it from an area known primarily for ranching, agriculture, and extractive industries to a region known for its picturesque scenery and people. For all their insights, these explanations neglect two significant aspects of the Indian arts and crafts movement among the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico-its gendered nature and its heterogeneity.
Published in JOURNAL OF THE SOUTHWEST, Vol. 40, No. 2 (Summer, 1998), pp. 187-215. Published by Southwest Center at the University of Arizona.