Inventing the Southwest: The Fred Harvey Company and Native American Art

The Heard Museum

Phoenix, Arizona

September 29, 1995-May 4, 1997


Nothing in the realm of culture and society exists as such. Form and substance need to be invented, and, when once invented, they must be continually cultivated in on-going efforts to refine those rhetorics of representation required to invent and cultivate them. In this enterprise, museums frequently assume a leading role in cultural economy as authoritative sites where such systems of meaning, value and identity, first, can invented, and, second, are contested after their presentation by other social forces seeking to appropriate the cultural forms and materiale that museums accumulate and mobilize for their own economic or political purposes. This dynamic can be seen at work many places, but the multicultural complexities of the American Southwest provide many unusual instances of these interpretative struggles. A newly opened exhibition at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, entitled "Inventing the Southwest: The Fred Harvey Company and Native American Art," provides a peculiarly vivid case-study in how one museum's founders and operations have collaborated with local social forces to invent the form and substance of Arizona's cultural economy.

Like most human institutions, the Heard Museum is packed full with contradictions and inconsistencies. On one level, the Heard Museum is a valuable and vital ethnological resource for the entire nation. It was one of the first museums in America devoted exclusively to what are now classified as "Native American" culture and art. Its collections are a significant cultural depository for works from many Southwestern Native American cultures, and it has done a great deal to support individual Native American artists and craftspersons for several generations.

Yet, on another level, it also is quite localistic, and even parochial, institution, which has operated in various ways since 1929 as a high-visibility cultural screen to help invent a mystique of "the American Southwest" that Phoenix, as a city, has, in turn, sought to exploit continuously as an economic development tool. Fodor's Arizona '95, for example, beckons all tourists with a very positive blurb on the Heard Museum, asserting that it has become "the nation's leading museum of Native American art and culture" (1994: 178). Moreover, it is not just some stultifying, high-brow museum experience; instead, the Heard Museum has something for everyone: "modern Native American arts, interactive art-making exhibits for the children, and live demonstrations by artisans are always at hand" (1994: 179). Similarly, Frommer's Arizona '95 informs would-be visitors to the state: "considered one of the finest museums in the country that deals exclusively with Native American cultures, the Heard Museum should be among your first stops in Arizona" (1995: 106). Indeed, Frommer's spotlights the Heard Museum as one of the top attractions in Phoenix--a must-see visit even if one has only one day in the city. With nearly 7 million passengers passing through Phoenix's Sky Harbor airport annually, and millions more driving through Arizona over its interstate highways, this sort of cultural guidance about the Heard Museum pays off everyday for Phoenix and Arizona in heavy tourist traffic.

And, on a third level, while this museum certainly has aided some Native American artisans, it also has promoted theatricalized rhetorics in representing the Southwest's Native American cultures, which mostly serve the material interests of Anglo-American land owners, building contractors or commercial developers, even though these rhetorics elaborate cultural codes that are mystifying, inadequate, and problematic. As Valley Guide Quarterly (Fall 1995: 47) suggests, the Heard's "internationally famous collection of artifacts and art from Southwest Native American tribes" as well as its "numerous festivals, performances, and workshops" are a major attractor of new visitors and residents to the Valley of Sun, "a place where," as one Phoenix megadeveloper claims, "you can retreat to casual Southwest living at its finest. Come experience the expansive parks, lush trails and world class golf, and see life from a different view. Homes from the $130s to over $500,000" (Valley Guide Quarterly, Fall 1995: 4).

"Inventing the Southwest: The Fred Harvey Company and Native American Art" examines how the partnership of the Santa Fe Railway and the Fred Harvey Company with its hotels, restaurants, and shops first mobilized these routines of representation as they created "the Southwest" and "Native American Art" out of the daily routines of a mass tourism industry. By showing how travel to the Grand Canyon, New Mexico, or Southern California by train led to packaging the Southwest as a leisure-time destination as well as defining many destinations in the Southwest with leisure characteristics once travelers arrived, the exhibition chronicles how the cultural economy of Southwestern tours developed over the years from 1896 through the mid-1960s when rail travel mostly died out. Yet, by providing the venue for this display, the Heard Museum oddly erases any trace of itself from the elaborate historical records documenting these events as if it was/is not somehow integrally involved within them.

Like many museums, the Heard Museum evolved out of a small curiosity cabinet in the home of a rich patron. In this case, however, the small curiosity cabinet in the house of Dwight B. and Maie Bartlett Heard became so immense that it engulfed their family dwelling, and eventually grew large enough to merit its own museum building. The Heards met and married in Chicago. Dwight B. Heard came to Chicago from his native New England in the 1890s where he began working for a major hardware supplier, Hibbard, Spencer and Bartlett (the original precursor of the present-day True Value hardware chain). He soon became a protege of Adolphus Bartlett, and wed his daughter, Maie Bartlett, during 1893 in an elaborate high society wedding. A lung aliment, however, forced him to seek a dryer, warmer climate, and the Heards moved to Phoenix in 1895. Not much more than a small farming community of 4,000 in the Salt River Valley, Phoenix had just been made Arizona's territorial capital in 1889. The Heards founded the Bartlett-Heard Land and Cattle Company soon after their arrival, and began raising cattle, alfalfa, citrus, and cotton on the land around their first house, "Buena Ranche." Hard work, adequate capitalization, and being in the right place at the right time helped their company grow quickly into one of the largest landowners in the area. Indeed, Dwight Heard was a critical force behind the development of the Salt River Valley Water Users Association and the building of Roosevelt Dam in the Tonto Basin--the first major federally-supported western water project from the 1902 Reclamation Act. And, as the head of the Arizona Cotton Growers' Association, he moved the state into global markets as a major cotton-growing center. With his considerable financial assets and personal acquaintance with national political figures, like Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Heard also became quite active in local Republican party and Arizona state politics (Marshall and Brennan, 1995: 2-7).

As transplants from Chicago, Dwight and Maie Heard travelled extensively on the railroads, especially the Santa Fe railroad, to get to and from Arizona during trips back east. Somewhat serendipitously in 1896, the Santa Fe railroad chose to promote tourist travel to the Grand Canyon and to clean up its corporate image with elaborate advertising campaigns devoted to popularizing "the heritage of America, the wilderness, and the Indians" (McLuhan, 1985: 16). Commissioning painters and photographers to travel through the Southwest to produce asserting images of its beauties for mass reproduction as corporate advertising, the Santa Fe also appropriated the American Indian as one of its key symbols. The Santa Fe railroad's Indian symbol purposely was designed so that it "possessed an aura of glamour. An intangibility. An ineffable essence. The idea was to present a radiant image of Indian life. The Santa Fe Indian represented a prototype of preindustrial society. Simplicity. Freedom. Nobility. This was the life and culture that inhabited the Santa Fe's "friendly" oasis of the desert Southwest" (McLuhan, 1985: 19). Ironically, this advertising campaign "worked" inasmuch as millions of Americans soon were caught up in the region's mystique, including apparently the Heards, as they travelled along the Santa Fe railways from the 1890s to the 1920s. Making this observation is not to stake a simple ideological claim by which the Heard Museum is reduced to a mouthpiece of one railroad company. Instead it simply marks an intriguing elective affinity: two newly-arrived settlers from Chicago in Phoenix start to appreciate the cultural heritage of Arizona's Native Americans in terms not unlike those mechanically-reproduced in the tourism discourses of Santa Fe railroad advertising. And, in turn, they begin to fill their home with Indian arts and crafts purchased in Fred Harvey shops during their train trips with the Santa Fe railway.

During 1903, as part of their vocation for real estate development, the Heards launched the development of an exclusive subdivision, "Los Olivos," on 160 acres along Central Avenue north of McDowell Road in what is now central Phoenix. Their new house, "Casa Blanca" on Monte Vista Road, anchored the development, which soon became one of the most desired neighborhoods for Phoenix's social elite. "Casa Blanca" also became as well-known among this same elite as a display center for arts and crafts objects collected by the Heards from Arizona's Native American peoples as well as cultures in Latin America, Africa, and the Pacific. The Heards assembled such an extensive collection of Southwestern Indian baskets, jewelry, pottery, textiles, and other artifacts in their new home that they soon were overwhelmed by this hoard of art objects. So their daughter-in-law, Winifred Heard, encouraged them during the 1920s to consolidate the family collections in a formal museum. The Heards began constructing a Spanish Colonial Revival-style building that was completed during 1928. As the display cabinets and other fixtures were being installed, however, Dwight Heard died unexpectedly on March 14, 1929. His wife and son carried on with the project, securing formal incorporation for the Heard Museum on June 18, 1929.

Maie Heard truly was the force behind the museum's founding and early operations. Much of what the Heards collected was chosen by Mrs. Heard; and, in the museum's first years, "visitors to the museum would first ring the door bell at Casa Blanca. Mrs. Heard would answer and take the visitors over to the museum, unlock the gate and give them a tour" (Marshall and Brennan, 1995: 12). In addition to her extensive philanthropic work for many organizations in Phoenix, Maie Heard continued expanding the institution's collections until she died on March 14, 1951 (Marshall and Brennan, 1995: 10-12). Later their son acknowledged how much the Heard Museum had become a significant cultural resource for the entire city of Phoenix by reorganizing it as an independent non-profit institution, administered by volunteers and a board of trustees drawn from the local Phoenix area.

The Heard Museum still occupies its original building, although it has been expanded and modernized considerably since 1929. With a sizeable plot of land from their "Casa Blanca" estate deeded to it by the Heards, the Museum currently is planning another 43,000 square foot addition on these grounds to enlarge its library, archives, giftshop and display areas as well as to add new classrooms, a 400 seat auditorium, and a food service area. Visitors today still enter the Museum's heavily stylized Spanish Colonial Revival building through a brick-paved courtyard complete with citrus trees, a metate collection, black wrought-iron fittings, and spindle-barred windows, which all orchestrate an air of fantastic exoticism for the facility. The fact that permanent colonial Spanish settlement never took hold in the Phoenix area is, of course, irrelevant. Like the romanticization of Spanish California in San Diego's and San Francisco's twin 1915 Pacific expositions, the facility's Spanish-style features "look" like they belong there; hence, in the classic Phoenician land development logics pioneered, in part, by the Heards, they must be there to anchor the myth. The Heard Museum's prime directive can be found on the museum building's dedication plaque in this courtyard. Dwight and Maie Heard saw the mission of their museum as being quite simple: "to preserve the cultural heritage of those who have so enriched our lives." This somewhat bland dictum, however, clearly has had more than one meaning in the institution's history.

While the Heard Museum stops short of exploring its own complicated role in reproducing these ideological codes in Arizona since the 1920s, the "Inventing the Southwest" show at the museum does begin to examine a few of the earliest sources of "the Southwest" as a thoroughly stylized fantasy suitable for sale as a tourist commodity. Most importantly, it reconsiders how the Santa Fe Railway and the Fred Harvey Company sought to offer "travelers a swift, safe, comfortable journey West--with a touch of adventure" by mobilizing potential travelers with Indian imagery wrapped within "sophisticated marketing techniques to advertise the exotic and romantic Southwest" ("Inventing the Southwest," 1995: 1). Organized at the Heard with financial support from the NEH, Santa Fe Railway, Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, and the Flinn Foundation, this show reveals how the contact of Native American peoples with modern corporate enterprise generated a series of industrial capitalist myths. To substantiate these myths, the Native American cultures' personal property and household implements--jewelry, blankets, pottery, baskets, and spiritual icons--became commodified as "curios" or "souvenirs." To affirm these myths, Santa Fe and Fred Harvey transported, housed, fed, entertained, and guided thousands of leisure travelers a week from the cities of industrial America out into the open expanses of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas.

From the main office in Kansas City, the Fred Harvey Company's Indian Department created a huge demand for Indian artifacts by siting small museums with artist demonstration rooms and sales rooms in its hotels, many of which were designed by the Fred Harvey Company's architect, Mary Colter (Weigle and Babcock, 1996: 25-33). First, Fred Harvey Company "anthropologists," like Herman Schweizer and J. F. Huckel, bought thousands of artifacts in bulk, and then encouraged Indian producers to make new ones to satisfy the insatiable demand they were creating for such goods among tourists, private collectors, and museums (Weigle and Babcock, 1996: 67-85). Soon Indian artifacts, once made for home-use or tribal rituals, were rethought for store-sales or corporate retail outlets. Hand-woven textiles once worn as clothing became Navajo blankets; household pottery was made smaller, lighter, more refined; massive silver jewelry once used to display wealth became more delicate, less heavy, more ornate; baskets were made more decoratively and much smaller--all of these changes responded to what tourists fancied, could carry, would put on their fireplace mantels back home. Riding on the crest of the Arts and Crafts Movement in Europe and North America, turn-of-the-century Native Americans collaborated whole heartedly in the commodification of their cultures just as the last of them were being successfully pacified by the U.S. Cavalry and Bureau of Indian Affairs. As Huckel asserted, "Fred Harvey has done more for all the Indian tribes in the Southwest than thousands of people who have written books, people in Congress, humanitarian committees, etc., because we have created a market for their goods" (Cited in Weigle and Babcock, 1996: 67). Nonetheless, it is a market mostly for goods as tourist outlets defined them to suit their buyers' desires.

At the Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque, the Hopi House at the Grand Canyon, La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, and El Ortiz Hotel in Lamy, New Mexico, the Fred Harvey Company adapted display conventions from the world fair at St. Louis in 1904. At these sites, it could exhibit simulations of Native American dwellings, build demonstration stages for cultural reenactments, and organize display spaces for artifacts all integrated into as sales rooms in which the Southwestern myth was sold as part-and-parcel of dance performances, rug weaving displays, and Indian jewelry vending. They worked so well that the Santa Fe Railway financed extensive presentations by the Fred Harvey Company of Native American peoples and crafts at both the 1915 San Diego Panama-California Exposition and San Francisco Panama-Pacific International Exposition. From La Fonda and El Ortiz, tourists would depart on "Indian Detours" through rural New Mexico in automobile caravans. Guided by young, college-educated Anglo women in ten-gallon hats, Navajo jewelry and velvet blouses, travellers visited Indian pueblos, Hispanic villages, and prehistoric ruins before returning to their Harvey House hotels and Harvey girl restaurants on the rail lines. Dwight and Maie Heard were first taken with their life-long project of collecting Indian artwork at these Fred Harvey outlets, and they paid tribute to their rhetorical power as cultural performances in reproducing the same representational approaches at their Museum.

The core of the Heard Museum's fixed displays today, for example, is a "museum exhibition," or "Native Peoples of the Southwest: The Permanent Collection of the Heard Museum," which is, as the gallery guide indicates, an exhibition of "Southwestern Native American artifacts: kachina dolls, pottery, baskets and jewelry" (Gallery Guide & Map, 1995: 3). In one sense, all of these objects are ethnological artifacts, but, in another sense, they also are one of the key sub-sets of all valuable cultural artifacts that the Anglo-American community of Arizona--beginning with the Heards, Fred Harvey, Herman Schweizer or J. F. Huckel--has valorized as prestige "art objects" in its formal discourses and local markets. The exhibition of these artifacts, however, contextualizes these cultural currency reserves and their native producers "environmentally" in three ecological zones to illustrate the respective Native American cultures' adaptations to their natural environments: the Sonoran Desert, the Uplands of the Mogollon Rim Country, and the Colorado River Plateau. In turn, the displays attempt to illustrate how these artifacts fit into the everyday economies of the people who produced them.

Although this natural/historical narrative credibly locates these Indian cultures in terms of Arizona's geographical space, the narration in the display fixes its gaze upon the Native American peoples in very indistinct temporal historic terms borrowed essentially from the leisure industry anthropologists of Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe railroad. For the most part, the view is highly a/pre/historical, focusing upon Native American cultures before or beyond their contact with European invaders in order to freeze their cultural economies in the forms of an ideal type. Yet, these pre-encounter views of Native Americans are supplemented by photographs of contemporary individuals--wearing traditional costumes, making traditional foods, building traditional dwellings, or constructing traditional art objects (Native Cultures and Art, 1993-1994). The tone is celebratory; but, at the same time, these genres of interpretation are an ensemble of moves that permanently collect the peoples of the Southwest in the discursive net of "native-ness," which continues ironically the themes and tropes from a Fred Harvey imaginary of the Santa Fe Indian. To generate the iconic grounding of an idealized present of Arizona's growth and prosperity, there needed to be this idealized past/otherness of permanence and security. Today's Native Americans are reimagined, then, as they have been continuously since Remington's and Russell's conventionalization of these codes during the 1890s, as unsullied reflections of noble savages living and working in harmony with Nature--a maneuver also deeply embedded within the Santa Fe railroad's representation of its art moderne locomotives as "Super Chiefs" in its corporate logos.

In addition to these longstanding efforts at sustaining the mythos of the Southwest by freezing most of its Indian cultures in an a/pre/historical time and space, the Heard Museum's involvement with many Native American cultures more recently has pushed it away from the Fred Harvey/Santa Fe Indian ensemble: defining Native American culture through "fine art." While a remarkably ethnocentric system for defining cultural production mistakenly keeps most Native American artwork on the "decorative arts" or "crafts" side of many aesthetic categories, like rugs or kachina dolls ("Following the Sun and Moon: Hopi Kachina Dolls," 1995), other works that fit easily into the "fine arts" box have been produced by Native Americans for decades. Following the lead once set by the Philbrook Art Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma as a venue for American Indian painting and sculpture, the Heard Museum has started using some of its other spaces quite differently. Most significantly, it has organized an important biennial Native American fine arts invitational exhibition to encourage and document works from the Native American Fine Arts Movement, which has mixed the styles and methods of mainstream Anglo-American art practices with images and themes from Native American arts to continue introducing "the art community and the general public to artists with great potential" (Archuleta, 1994: 3).

Beyond these recent efforts to serve as an institutional sponsor for some Native Americans' production of fine art pieces, the Heard Museum continues to operate quite conservatively as the local patron of those indigenous peoples who have so enriched the lives of everyone living in Phoenix. Most directly, its displays of Native American cultures and art anchor the cultural categories needed by non-Native Americans for understanding Indian ways in a fashion that benefits them rather than Native Americans. Its representational idioms, despite recent countermoves by some Native American employees, essentially still visualize Native American peoples as exotic beings, producing all of those crafts that serve as identity-generators for the City of Phoenix with its Southwestern lifestyle as well as journey-markers for all those outside visitors eager to return home with some tangible sign of their Southwest visitations. By framing culture in terms of such decorative art objects, the Museum also serves to valorize the collection, accumulation, circulation of ethnic objets d'art that might otherwise be ignored.

These moves, in turn, stabilize the otherness of Native Americans, fixing them mostly as curio makers, rooted to the forms and figures of an a/pre/historical time frozen from before/beyond their initial contact with Hispanic or Anglo cultures. The contemporary culture of many Native Americans, which is tied increasingly in Arizona to running huge casinos and resorts, working off the reservation for railroads and mines, or subsisting in small back country settlements on some government dole, is virtually ignored except, of course, in the angst-ridden themes of occasional "high art" objects shown in the Fine Arts Invitationals (Harlan, 1994; and, Archuleta, 1991). Yet, these products often are not remarkable; most of them are either "fine art" extensions of traditional Indian tropes or "fine art" emulations of foreign art practices performed by Anglo-American artists, who went to the same university art schools. Thus, the Heard Museum mainly sticks with tried-and-true representational forms begun long ago by the Santa Fe railroad and Fred Harvey Company.

For example, the Heard Museum's fascination with the Hohokam (the people that inhabited the Salt and Gila River basins for centuries until their culture collapsed around 1400 AD just prior to European settlement), reinventing them as irrigation engineers, desert agriculturalists or city builders prior to Columbus coming to America helps to naturalize the fast capitalist projects of rapid growth in modern Arizona, especially those first undertaken by Dwight and Maie Heard. A clear environmental determinism driven by water use is projected as an ecological imperative for whomever occupies the Valley of the Sun. What the Heards and others have done in Phoenix since the 1890s merely continues a timeless natural necessity that would hold true for any human being choosing to live on these lands. The Hohokam provide an indigenous old way both to legitimize and mystify the transformation of Maricopa County and the State of Arizona by private capital and public power. Without water, as Dwight Heard realized, Phoenix could not grow. Thanks to his politicking inside and outside of the state, Phoenix with federal water projects grew from a little village of 4,000 in 1895 into a huge metroplex with nearly 2.3 million people, covering over one thousand square miles in 1995 (Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1994: 28). The land development industry of post-WWII Arizona, then, truly draws much of its energy from the enriching cultural heritage of the Native American peoples in Arizona. As the Heard Museum documents, their "primitive economy" anticipates the present-day era only at a lower level of technological capability, although their sophisticated arts and crafts can still beautify contemporary Arizona with images and objects of tremendous mystery. Their languages create auras of utopian exoticism in place names and space titles. And, their enduring presence as decorative artisans still enlivens everyday life with spectacles of alien being to the delight of residents and travelers alike.

Native American arts and crafts have been commodities since the Anglo and Hispanic cultures first made contact with Arizona's native tribes: a truth that "Inventing the Southwest" both exposes and recharges in its many displays. Still, this institution's operational shift from a private family hoard into a public museum site also has greatly helped to rationalize an popularize the commodification of these arts. Not only are they beautiful, not only are they made of precious materials, not only are they works of rare skill as any white trader at a reservation trading post might claim; but, they also are worthy of acquisition by a museum that continually produces new disquisitions about the skill, value, and beauty they evince in its own formal exhibitions. In this vein, the Heard Museum also sponsors the Guild Indian Fair and Market during the first weekend in March. Featuring a prestigious-juried show of Native American art and craft work, the show brings local residents and out-of-state visitors together to see Native American cultural displays as well as to assist all of those would-be Dwight and Maie Heards make new acquisitions for their collections today.

This complementarity between the museum and marketing continues into the 1990s. At el Pedregal in far north Scottsdale, which bills itself as the "Festival Marketplace at The Boulders: A Shopping Experience of Galleries, Boutiques, Apparel, Artisan Crafted Gifts, Restaurants and Cafes...," the trustees and curators of the Heard Museum have just opened the doors of "...the new Heard Museum Extension" (Valley Guide Quarterly, Fall 1995: 12) as its permanent second site on January 13, 1996. Affluent snowbirds from "back east," vacationing at the ritzy Boulders Resort, now need not motor all the way downtown into Phoenix's increasingly seedy and now mostly high-rise Central Avenue corridor. Imagining that one can become immersed in the romantic aura of the Southwestern desert is virtually impossible now at the Heard Museum as the high-rise corporate headquarters of major national corporations tower over what was once Dwight and Maie Heard's rancho on Monte Vista Road.

Like many of the Fred Harvey Company's Harvey House hotels, the "Desert Shopping Destination" at el Pedregal is a timber and stucco fantasia. It artfully blends elements of a quasi-Moroccan frontier fort with a semi-Taos pueblo in "Southwest style" purples, pinks and blues set amidst the boulder-strewn foothills of Carefree and Scottsdale, Arizona (Valley Guide Quarterly, 1995: 12). Here thirty miles north of Phoenix's inner city, the el Pedregal shopping mall reproduces Fred Harvey's original designs for locating a "museum" inside of a business establishment by allowing the prestigious Heard operation to extend itself as the Heard Museum North at this high-end shopping venue. What the exhibitions at the Heard Museum North legitimize as valuable artwork can, in turn, then be purchased at this desert shopping destination's many galleries and boutiques so tastefully tucked away on the various levels of this simulated Southwestern adobe pueblo. Should those outlets seem too tawdry, then "at the Heard Museum North is a shop featuring only the finest in authentic Native American art--hand-made baskets and pottery, beautifully woven textiles, exquisite jewelry, kachina dolls and a selection of fine art" (Heard Museum North, 1995: no page). And, like the Heards at the Museum's downtown Phoenix site, the Heard Museum North is backed by another bloc of real estate developers from the Scottsdale and Carefree areas surrounding the el Pedregal complex, including the Boulders Resort, Del Webb Company, Giant Industries, Inc., and Mr. & Mrs. Russ Lyon, Jr., as founding benefactors.

By showing how other social forces, like the Fred Harvey Company or the Santa Fe railroad, worked to "invent the Southwest," the Heard Museum ironically evades its own implication in these processes of cultural reproduction by suggesting how it was other commercial agents and industrial interests who created and sustained these myths long ago. This fact is painfully obvious everyday at the Heard Museum's Shop and Bookstore where--in the tradition of a Harvey House hotel's "museum" in the 1920s--almost as much floorspace and even more theater is assigned to the sale of Native American artifacts as has been devoted to displaying them as educational experiences inside the Museum itself. What you see in the Heard Museum, you can buy in the Museum Shop. This organic connection is openly celebrated by Frommer's Arizona '95 tourist handbook, which observes the Heard Museum "sells the finest selection of Southwest Native American arts and crafts in the valley--both traditional and modern--at its gift shop" (1995: 199). And, for those neophytes needing some instruction in the basics of Native American art, Frommer's assures visitors that "the museum is the ideal place for learning about whatever medium or art form interests you and to see Native American artists and artisans at work almost everyday" (Frommer's Arizona '95, 1995: 199).

Unlike American or European art museums where the economic divide between art work and art reproduction is clear, then, the Heard Museum sells art works at all price points in its shop spaces, which often are essentially identical to those that it displays in its exhibit spaces. Of course, ordinary bric-a-brac from coffee mugs, t-shirts and key rings to Phoenix maps, cookbooks and cowboy hats also are available here, but the key displays vend jewelry, rugs, baskets, pottery and paintings as lovely as any found inside the Museum to tourists and locals now rightly informed about how to make wise investments in Native American arts after a Heard Museum visit. At the Heard Museum North, the display space is not much larger in size than the shop spaces, leading visitors in the gallery to ask, "is this stuff for sale?" and patrons in the shop to ask, "is this stuff only on display?"

So, to whom and for whom, then, is the museum representing Native peoples and in exhibitions like "Inventing the Southwest"? The words of the Heard Museum's prime directive again may give some guidance. It does preserve a cultural heritage received from those Native Americans who have so enriched new migrants, like the Heards and thousands of other Anglo-Americans, by motivating millions to travel to Arizona. Millions of non-native people have been moving to Arizona for over a century, and many of them came first to behold the mysterious cultures of Native American peoples. Hence, it is to these outsiders that the Heard Museum is, in part, representing these Indian tribes, and, in part, for those who have mobilized and profited from these mass migrations of people. The beauty of Native American cultures drew and kept people in Arizona, and the Heards among many others were enriched significantly from drawing, housing and provisioning those who stayed in the Valley of the Sun. Once there, European Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans did not go native; instead, they bought lots of land, thousands of homes, and tons of agricultural produce from local developers/agriculturalists/ranchers, like the Heards. And, they too began buying into the national advertising images of Native American peoples first launched by the Santa Fe Indian and then repackaged along with jewelry, pots and rugs at local curio shops, only to be ratified later by the institutionalized approval of the Heard Museum.

In many ways, the "Inventing the Southwest" exhibition about the Santa Fe railroad and Fred Harvey Company celebrates each of these phases in the evolution of the Southwestern mystique from the 1890s through the 1960s when the last of the Harvey House hotels were closed. The Heard Museum memorializes the influence of the Fred Harvey Company by pointing to a diverse array of cultural legacies at work today in theme parks, Indian markets and municipally-sponsored art festivals (where Anglo-American artists now also produce "authentic Indian jewelry" and African- American painters romanticize the a/pre/historic era of Native American culture). Yet, the Heard Museum dodges any exhaustive examination of its own extensive role in continuing, and even enhancing, the past ideological practices of the Santa Fe railway and Fred Harvey Company in present-day performances through the museum's exhibits.

On one level, the Heard Museum simply continues the Harvey formula in an era of automobile and jet based individual travel, one in which Fodor's or Frommer's suggests where tourists must visit instead of them being forced to stay in one spot near a railway line by an alliance of Fred Harvey and Santa Fe. On another level, whereas Indian artisans once judged the quality of their work by the quantity that sold in Indian markets, today one finds the permanent displays and invitational shows staged by museums, like the Heard Museum in particular, providing professional juries to vet the quality of Indian artisanship. Of course, the measure of the market still counts, but the prices that artisans can command rises significantly with formal museum exposure and recognition. So, on a third level, the Heard Museum revalorizes the Southwest as an exotic/romantic/mysterious site by revisiting the Harvey House era in such nostalgic terms as one of its own a/pre/historical origins of accumulating native cultural artifacts that draw tourists into the region. For many, Phoenix itself is an el Pedregal tourist mall on a metropolitan scale--a "desert-shopping destination" with galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and hotels featuring golf courses, swimming pools, craftworked gifts, and exotic art. Parallelling how Native American cultures go "from ritual to retail" with their artifacts, the Heard Museum makes the link "from museum to market" that valorizes artworks as assets inasmuch as they can appear as exemplary artifacts on display so that they may also become precious curios for sale. One can take the commercialized artifacts out of the Indian desert, we will never be able to take the desert of commerce out of the Indian artifacts.

Few cultural institutions simply advance one purpose; and, in hosting this show on Santa Fe railroad and the Fred Harvey Company, the Heard Museum proves that it is no exception to this rule. Nonetheless, it also illustrates how the Heard operates very effectively as a screen of power suitable for simultaneously putting certain things on view, while shielding many other things from view. On the one hand, its displays have become a normative field upon which self-affirming images of Native American people are projected, creating definitive categories for classifying and judging the cultural heritage of Arizona's Indian cultures. Here Native American peoples acquire an aesthetic, well-adjusted, satisfied image as tradition-keepers and curio-makers intent upon fitting seamlessly into Arizona's mainstream society. All of the images captured from film and television about Indian life can be replayed at the Heard Museum, revalorizing these exotic qualities and mysterious features. At the same time, the museumification of Native American peoples' material culture disembeds artifacts from their own cycles of organic use value within indigenous religion, family life, dress, food practice, shelter, or status hierarchies to circulate them within market-centered art exchanges off the reservation.

On the other hand, the museum as a screen of power capable of carrying normative images positively upon itself also coexists with more negative ideological deployments as a screen for power, obscuring other things from view. Native American peoples--as most of them live much of the time in the Southwest today--are rendered invisible by the Heard Museum's operations. The repressive peculiarities of modern reservation society as an abject site of underdevelopment, exploitation or detainment does not fit into the Heards' vision of "our cultural heritage," even though such sites also have enriched the lives of Anglo-Americans inasmuch as non-Indian Arizonans expropriated land and resources from Arizona's Indians via war, unequal exchange or bureaucratic legerdemain. Instead of showing how most reservation families now live miserable material lives in Third World poverty, the Museum recasts itself as a special contemporary kind of Harvey House, positioning Indian life in the aura of tourist spectacles and railroading the values of Indian artifacts in specialized Santa Fe-styled art markets. Native American peoples here, at the end of the day, remain the latest, most sophisticated version of those popular natives invented by the Fred Harvey Company's "Indian Detours" or the Santa Fe railroad's "Super Chief" advertising: the Hopi Kachina dancer, the Zuni silversmith, the Navajo rug weavers, the Apache basketmaker. They are exotic artifactual subjectivities captured by the tourist gaze which seeks exotic subjects creating artifacts. And, in these touristic forms, Native Americans continue to be those who can enrich the lives of all those outsiders who ever will either visit or set up shop in Phoenix, Arizona, or the Great Southwest.


Timothy W. Luke



(Timothy W. Luke teaches political science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, VA)


Archuleta, Margaret. 1994. 6th Native American Fine Arts Invitational. Phoenix, AZ: The Heard Museum.

Archuleta, Margaret. 1991. 5th Biennial Native American Fine Arts Invitational. Phoenix, AZ: The Heard Museum.

Fodor's Arizona '95. 1994. New York: Random House.

"Following the Sun and Moon: Hopi Kachina Dolls." 1995. Heard Museum Exhibit Brochure. Phoenix, AZ: The Heard Museum.

Frommer's Arizona '95. 1995. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Gallery Guide & Map. 1995. The Heard Museum: Native Cultures and Art. Phoenix, AZ: The Heard Museum.

Harlan, Theresa. 1994. Watchful Eyes: Native American Women Artists. Phoenix, AZ: The Heard Museum.

Heard Museum North, (flyer). 1995. Phoenix, AZ: The Heard Museum.

"Inventing the Southwest: The Fred Harvey Company and Native American Art." 1995. Heard Museum Exhibit Brochure. Phoenix, AZ: The Heard Museum.

Marshall, Ann E. and Mary H. Brennan. 1995. The Heard Museum: History and Collections. Phoenix, AZ: The Heard Museum.

McLuhan, T. C. 1985. Dream Tracks: The Railroad and the American Indian, 1890-1930. New York: Harry Abrams.

Native Cultures and Art. 1993-1994. The Heard Museum. Phoenix, AZ: The Heard Museum.

Statistical Abstract of the United States, 114th Edition. 1994. U.S. Department of Commerce: Washington, D.C.

Valley Guide Quarterly, 1995. Vol. 6, no. 3 (Fall). Scottsdale, AZ: Valley Guide, Inc.

Weigle, Marta and Barbara A. Babcock, eds. 1996. The Great Southwest of the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railway. Phoenix, AZ: The Heard Museum.