Category: Current Newsletter

Phoenix Heard Museum Connects Visitors to American Indian Culture

PHOENIX, ARIZONA – JUNE 5: The Heard Museum on June 5, 2013, in Phoenix, Arizona. The Heard Museum is an internationally known museum of Native American cultural artifacts located on Central Avenue, Phoenix.

Fully dedicated to American Indian art and artifacts, the Heard Museum in Phoenix presents the history, life, arts and culture of American Indian people from a first-person perspective. Visitors gain a deep understanding of the the art collections and of Native history through the museum’s work to share the stories of the artists and tribal communities it features.

“Video and gallery interactive programs are all part of ways that we bring Native voices to our visitors,” Ann Marshall, Ph.D., director of curation and education at Heard Museum, told the National Endowment for the Arts in a 2016 interview. “Every year, our festivals bring hundreds of artists to the museum. Whether it is our Mercado de las Artes in the fall, the World Champion Hoop Dance Competition in February, the Indian Fair and Market in March, free First Fridays, or Free Summer Sundays, visitors have great chances to talk with artists and learn first-hand about their art.” The museum’s events draw more than 40,000 visitors annually.

Recognized internationally for the quality of its traditional and contemporary art collections and known for its unrivaled collection of Hopi Katsinas (also known as Kachinas), the Heard has grown since its creation by Dwight and Maie Heard in 1929 to feature world-class exhibitions, educational programs and vibrant festivals. Growing from the couple’s exemplary personal collection of primarily American Indian artifacts and art, the museum’s collection spans more than 1,700 years of Native heritage —from 300 A.D. to the present – and features more than 40,000 objects including multiple generations of fine art, weavings, pottery, basketry, sculpture, Katsina dolls, and more, Marshall said.

The museum’s exhibits include the moving Boarding School Experience gallery, which draws on the first-person recollections, memorabilia, writings and art of four generations of Indian school alumni and examines the controversial federal policy of removing American Indian children from their families and sending them to remote boarding schools in order to “civilize” them into mainstream society. Also featured among the Heard’s exhibits is an accurate recreation of the art studio of Santa Clara Pueblo painter Pablita Velarde/Tse Tsan “Golden Dawn”(1918-2006). Velarde, a pioneer as a woman painter during an era and community where painting was a male art form, depicted the traditional lifeways of her community that she feared would be lost, according to the Heard Museum’s website.

The Heard Museum also is home to the Billie Jane Baguley Library and Archives. The comprehensive research facility holds resources on nearly 25,000 American Indian artists and offers extensive information about indigenous art and cultures from around the world. Oldest House Indian Shop owner Rick Smith has visited and used the library’s resources and finds them outstanding.

“Several years ago, I spent a few days in the Heard Museum’s library gathering background information regarding our artists and studying the meaning of traditional design elements,” Smith said. “That information has been so important and useful for me as I am able to share it in very enjoyable conversations with our visitors.”

The Heard also features the American Indian Veterans National Memorial. The outdoor memorial to honor American Indian veterans includes a major sculpture by noted Chiricahua Apache artist Allan Houser and two sculptures by Vietnam veteran Michael Naranjo of Santa Clara Pueblo. “On panels in the memorial, we recognize American Indians’ service to the United States from before there was a United States up to the present,” Marshall said. “We also recognize the American Indian Medal of Honor recipients that include some of the first recipients who served as scouts in the 19th century.”

The Heard Museum is located at 2301 North Central Ave., Phoenix, Ariz. It is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $18 for adults, $13.50 for seniors, and $7.50 for students with a college I.D. and children age 6 -17. For children 5 and under and American Indians, admission is free. Free general admission from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. every First Friday except March. For more information, visit

Visit the Oldest House Indian shop at 215 E. De Vargas St. in Santa Fe or online at

Phone: 505-988-2488

Join us on Facebook and Twitter


Harvey’s La Castañeda Hotel Finds New Life

La Posada in Winslow, Ariz., by Steve McClanahan. Some rights reserved.

The story of Fred Harvey and the hotels, restaurants and tourism system he conceptualized and built along the Santa Fe Railway line throughout the Southwest is a story of inspired entrepreneurism. His legacy continues to inspire today as entrepreneurs pick up where he left off, most recently at Harvey’s La Castañeda Hotel in Las Vegas, N.M.

In 2014, Allan Affedlt and his wife, Tina Mion, bought the shuttered 25,000-square-foot hotel built by the Santa Fe Railway in 1898 and in 2017 completed the financing to begin its restoration. They look forward to reopening the horseshoe-shaped hotel with its welcoming belvedere tower just off the railroad tracks in late 2019, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

“Las Vegas, New Mexico, is the great undiscovered town of the Southwest, with more remarkable history and architecture than Taos or Albuquerque,” Allan Affeldt told the New Mexican. “And La Castañeda Hotel, where Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders held their first reunion in 1899 around the corner from Doc Holliday’s saloon, is the crown jewel.”

The New Mexican said Affeldt believes that once he reopens La Castañeda it will once again make Las Vegas a “must stop for travelers who love history and design.”

The historic property will join Affedlt and Mion’s La Posada, a Harvey Hotel designed by Mary Colter in Winslow, Ariz. The hotel, which opened in 1930 but had been used as railroad offices since the 1960s, was under threat of demolition by the Santa Fe Railway when Affedlt and Mion purchased it in 1997 and restored it with Daniel Lutzick. Conde Nast Traveler recently named the hotel to its Readers’ Choice Awards 2017 list of Top Hotels in the Southwest and West.

“Although none of the partners is a hotelier by training, they have accomplished what once seemed impossible — transforming a forgotten but magical place in to a living museum,” La Posada’s website states.

La Posada indeed is a magical place, also inspiring Oldest House Indian Shop owner Rick Smith after his first step into its lobby. “The epiphany came when my curiosity lead me to the timeless and well-maintained courtyard that was hidden from view…a time-traveler moment,” Smith says. Ever since, the idea of travelers headed west to “Indian Country” has fascinated Smith and inspired his career as a merchant set on creating fulfilling experiences for travelers and shoppers.

“Just like Fred Harvey of 135 years ago, we say to people, ‘Come explore!” Smith says. “Enjoy the unique cultural experiences that come with exploring history and with discovering new artists, places and friends.”

Explore the Oldest House Indian Shop at 215 E. De Vargas St. in Santa Fe today!

Visit us online at

Phone: 505-988-2488

Join us on Facebook and Twitter


Celebrated Silversmiths Advance the Art Form

The idea of travelers headed west to “Indian Country” has fascinated Rick Smith, owner of the Oldest House Indian Shop, since he first entered the lobby of La Posada in his hometown of Winslow, Arizona

“The epiphany came when my curiosity lead me to the timeless and well-maintained courtyard that was hidden from view…a time-traveler moment,” Smith says. “This feeling must have been familiar to those descending the Santa Fe Super Chief passenger car onto the same courtyard in 1930.”

Fred Harvey first exposed train-traveling tourists to Native American silverwork and created a ready market in the early 1900s, but skilled artists behind the craft and the merchants who love them did and still do carry forward the beautiful tradition over generations, advancing and expanding the art form.

The Oldest House Indian Shop features many jewelry artists renowned and awarded for their silver work and sought by galleries and collectors. Francis Jones is a fifth generation Navajo silversmith who uses the traditional method of sandcasting to create her signature “tracks” pieces. Sandcasting is a intensive process that involves creating a mold out of a clay-like sand and pouring molten silver into it. The process destroys the mold so each piece is truly one-of-a-kind. Francis learned the art at age 14 from her father and over her lifetime developed her “tracks” collection, where black oxidized channels in the pieces contrast to emphasize the bold lines of silver that she calls tracks. The award-winning artist has passed the traditional craft on to several of her children, who are are now accomplished silversmiths themselves.


Johnathan Nez combines traditional Navajo stampwork with horizontal and vertical lines of black oxidized silver, creating a contemporary look that doesn’t lose sight of tradition. Specializing in bracelets, some of his work features polished handmade silver balls gracefully placed on a backdrop of oxidized silver and deep-set stamping into heavy-gauge sterling silver. Johnathan hails from a family of Navajo silversmiths and was mentored by his brother, renowned artist Leonard Nez.



Murphy Platero learned the art of silversmithing from his mother, Lena Platero, renowned for her delicate feather jewelry. Murphy brings flowing motion to silver and turquoise with his unique pieces marked by overlapping strands and bundles of silver. The Navajo artist’s contemporary work brings the Southwest style forward with a nod to the art of the past.



Elgin Tom hand-makes his own intricate stamps to create his jewelry, including his signature maze design, a pattern of coils of rounded squares bringing to mind rows of kernels on an ear of corn. The contemporary design was inspired by the Northern Native American art of painting on totem poles. The intricate coils in the Maze pattern represent the symbols of family or clan. The Navajo jewelry artist learned his craft from his father and grandfather and incorporates his Maze design across a collection of hand-cast earrings, rings, pendants and bracelets.

“Just as the silversmith tradition is carried forward, so too is the call to ‘Come Explore’ made by merchants who advance and create ambient and fulfilling settings for travelers and shoppers,” Smith says. “The heart and soul of a good shopkeeper is concerned with you experiencing the rich Indian heritage of the Southwest. Bringing these artist into the scene is our life’s work.”

Visit the Oldest House Indian Shop and Smith’s life’s work at 215 E. De Vargas St. in Santa Fe to learn more and see the work of these talented people.

Visit us online at

Phone:  505-988-2488

Join us on Facebook and Twitter

Fred Harvey, Native American Silverwork, and the Cultural Tourists of 1890

Although he entered New Mexico 135 years ago, Fred Harvey’s influence remains, as the demand his company created for Native American art and Southwest tourism continue to thrive.

The first cultural tourists of the Victorian Era and the early 1900s embraced the Fred Harvey Company’s innovations in travel, dining, merchandising and tourism and, of course, the Harvey House. New Mexico’s 13 different Harvey accommodations offered comfort and civilization while traveling by train, as well as cultural expeditions and experiences unique to the Southwest.

One such experience was the Indian Building at the company’s Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque built in 1902. According to the website, the Indian Building, a museum and sales room, was devised to “expose and educate the traveler to the uniqueness of handmade Indian crafts,” as well as to sell the merchandise. Herman Schweizer, who managed the Indian Building and traveled Indian Country to acquire the an extensive collection of Native American arts and crafts, enlisted the help of Native American artists as demonstrators of their work and salespeople at Harvey Houses throughout the Southwest.

Schweizer helped drive the direction of Native American jewelry and crafts as an industry, including silversmithing. Mexican metalsmiths brought their craft to the Navajo in the early-1800s, and by the 1890s Navajo, Hopi and Zuni artists had developed their own styles of silverwork. At that time virtually all Native American silverwork was made for Native Americans, says Rick Smith of the Oldest House Indian Shop.

That changed when the Fred Harvey Company entered the picture. In 1899, the company began supplying turquoise stones and silver to trading posts in New Mexico and specifying the type and weight of jewelry needed for the tourist trade.The company purchased the crafts from the artists and sold these bracelets, rings and beads often called “Harvey House jewelry” or “workshop jewelry” on the trains over the Santa Fe line, at Harvey Houses, and at the Indian Building.

Silver jewelry made in the last years of the 1800s and the first years of the 1900s is characterized by heavy stamp work and frequently featured arrows and symbols introduced or required by traders as “typically Indian” designs, most likely due to the influence of Schweizer and the tourist trade.

In a nod to Fred Harvey’s legacy and the original Native American craftspeople, the Oldest House Indian Shop offers the Indian Shop Legacy Collection. Inspired by the Harvey House jewelry created for sale during that nostalgic golden era of train travel to the exotic Southwest, many of the stamps used have been hand made in order to replicate the jewelry of that time.

Visit the Oldest House Indian Shop at 215 E. De Vargas St. in Santa Fe to learn more and see the Legacy Collection.

Visit us online at

Phone:  505-988-2488

Join us on Facebook and Twitter

The Oldest House: Recognized as a Cultural Icon Even in 1879

Santa Fe’s Oldest House has been of interest to lovers of history and cultural experiences dating back at least 140 years, as evidenced by a Harper’s Weekly feature on Santa Fe in its September, 13, 1879, issue.  Yes, 1879!

The article, a piece of history itself, details the story of Santa Fe and its history of governance by Spain, Mexico and the United States:  “Our readers will be interested in the sketches given on this page of Santa Fe New Mexico, which enjoys the distinction of being the oldest town within the whole territory of the United States.”

One of three sketches featured is titled. “The Oldest House in the United States.”  Signed by C. Graham, it is an image of the Oldest House viewed from the southeast.  The article discusses the Palace of the Governors and its place in New Mexico history in detail, but the image chosen to reflect Santa Fe for the readers of Harper’s Weekly is that of the Oldest House.

While New Mexico was still more than 30 years away from becoming a state, our place in the history of the United States was already enchanting lovers of adventure.  And Harper’s Weekly didn’t even go back as far as they could have, choosing to begin its story with the entry of the Spanish in 1542.

“This location is steeped in layers of history dating back to the 1200s.” says Rick Smith, owner of the Oldest House Indian Shop on the site.  The Oldest House Indian Shop welcomes visitors into the Oldest House Museum in the National Historic Landmark Barrio de Analco Historic District, one of the oldest residential neighborhoods of European origin in the United States.  A part of the Spanish barrio originally settled in 1620, the Oldest House is also believed to rest on part of the foundation of an ancient Indian Pueblo built in the 1200s.  The New Mexico Tourism Department includes the Oldest House on its list of 15 must-see adobe structures.

“We have a fascinating community history spanning eight centuries,” Smith says.  “We are proud of that and love combining it with the timeless treasures created in the spirit of the cultures of Santa Fe, New Mexico and the Southwest.  They are things that spark the imagination and encourage curiosity and exploration.  Here at the Oldest House we provide a venue for the joy of being in Santa Fe.”

For more information, visit the Oldest House Indian Shop at 215 East De Vargas Street in Santa Fe.

Visit us online at

Phone:  505-988-2488

Join us on Facebook and Twitter