The Amerind Museum Today

March is Arizona Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month, so we’re featuring the Amerind Museum, founded because of a man’s passion for learning about Native cultures of the Southwest.

The Amerind Museum (c) Amerind Museum

Amerind Museum exhibitions tell the story of America’s first peoples from Alaska to South America and from the last Ice Age to the present. Amerind's Fulton-Hayden Memorial Art Gallery features Western-themed works by such artists as Carl Oscar Borg, William Leigh, Frederic Remington, and Andy Tsihnahjinnie. A room in the Art Gallery presents contemporary Native American art. The Amerind’s museum store offers high quality southwestern arts, crafts, and books on Native American cultures.

The Amerind experience is more than art and artifacts. At times, Amerind visitors will find Indian artists demonstrating their skills in the museum’s main gallery. The Amerind features special events and programs presented in Native voices. Museum visitors can learn about Southwestern indigenous culture from the eyes of Native Peoples themselves. The Amerind also offers a comprehensive hands-on educational program for children.

Upcoming events at the Amerind include the new ceramic revivals exhibit “Inspired by the Past” beginning in March and the Texas Canyon Trail Run in April. “Inspired by the Past” begins March 1 and will explore some of the well-known and lesser-known ceramic revival styles. The Texas Canyon Trail Run is a 10K run that will take runners and walkers through the dramatic boulders in the canyon surrounding the Amerind Museum.

Founded in 1937 by William Shirley Fulton, The Amerind Foundation is a private, nonprofit archaeological research institution. Interested in archaeology as a young man, Fulton became fascinated with past and present Native American cultures during several trips to Arizona between 1906 and 1917.

After hearing of the rugged Texas Canyon and its rumors of prehistoric agricultural villages, Fulton purchased property there for his FF Ranch. He built a home amid the boulder formations in 1931, and his annual Arizona trips began lasting months instead of weeks.

He started excavating sites on his property. What began as a hobby quickly grew into a full-time passion. As his techniques improved, he began publishing accounts of his excavations in a series of Archaeological Notes published by New York’s Museum of the American Indian. The Amerind Foundation was incorporated in 1937, and Fulton began supporting archaeological research on a major scale.  

He hired a professional archaeologist and supported other archaeologists, creating one of the finest private museum collections of ethnographic and archaeological materials in North America. After 1937 the Amerind facility expanded with the construction of the Museum, Library, Art Gallery, laboratories, storage, workshops, and staff housing.

Contributions to Archaeology and Anthropology
In 1952, Fulton hired Amerind’s first professional director, Charles C. Di Peso, who was the first doctorate of anthropology from the University of Arizona. He would become one of the Southwest’s premier archaeologists. Di Peso’s tenure at the Amerind spanned 30 years, included pioneering excavations in the Southwestern borderlands of Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico.

Between 1959 and 1962, the Amerind Foundation collaborated with the Mexican Institute for Anthropology and History to conduct excavations at Casas Grandes, one of the largest prehistoric sites in the greater Southwest. In 1974 Di Peso published a massive eight-volume report on these excavations—still one of the most comprehensive archaeological site reports in Southwest research history.

Although the Amerind is no longer engaged in archaeological excavations, it hosts several advanced seminars each year, bringing together archaeologists, anthropologists and scholars to discuss, debate, and synthesize work on various anthropological topics pertaining to the Southwest Borderlands. Seminar proceedings, Amerind Studies in Anthropology, are published each year by the University of Arizona Press.

The Amerind Museum
2100 N. Amerind Road
Dragoon, Arizona

Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Closed Mondays and major holidays)

For information on the Native Americans who lived in Cochise County, visit

Photos courtesy of the Amerind Museum; all rights reserved.

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