Amerind Foundation

About this Location

The museum and art gallery are housed in Spanish Colonial Revival style buildings designed by noted Tucson architect Merritt Starkweather. Located among the wonderful rock formations of Texas Canyon visitors can experience the native plants, birds, and solitude of the high desert. A secluded picnic area with picnic tables and accessible restrooms offers a quiet retreat amidst the massive granite boulders of Texas Canyon. At times the picnic area will be reserved for special events.

Established in 1937, the Amerind foundation and Museum seeks to foster and promote knowledge and understanding of the Native Peoples of the Americas through research, education, and conservation.

The Amerind Foundation was founded in 1937 by William Shirley Fulton (1880-1964) as a private, nonprofit archaeological research institution. A native of Connecticut, Fulton became interested in archaeology as a young man. Several trips to Arizona between 1906 and 1917 captured his attention in the Southwest’s past and present Native cultures. Throughout the 1920s Fulton regularly traveled west from his New England home, heading into the southwestern mountains, canyons, and plateau country to explore for archaeological ruins and expand his Native American collections.

In 1952, Fulton hired Amerind’s first professional director, a newly minted PhD from the University of Arizona named Charles C. Di Peso, who would become one of the Southwest’s premier archaeologists. Di Peso’s tenure at the Amerind spanned 30 years and included pioneering excavations at nearly a dozen sites in the Southwestern borderlands of southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and northern Mexico. He is best remembered for his groundbreaking work at Casas Grandes (Paquimé) in northern Chihuahua. Between 1959 and 1962, the Amerind Foundation collaborated with the Mexican Institute for Anthropology and History (INAH) to conduct intensive excavations at Casas Grandes, one of the largest prehistoric sites in the greater Southwest, and in 1974 Di Peso published a massive eight-volume report on the excavations—still one of the most comprehensive archaeological site reports in the history of SW research.

The Amerind changed course after Di Peso’s death in 1982. For years the Amerind Museum had taken a backseat to Amerind’s field research programs. Prior to 1985 the Museum was open to the public by appointment only, and for good reason: the entire collection was stored on open shelving in the museum galleries, in direct sunlight, subject to severe swings in temperature and humidity, and within easy reach of visitors touring the galleries. In 1985, most of the collections were moved into permanent storage where light, temperature, and humidity could be more closely monitored and controlled, and the museum galleries were filled with interpretive exhibitions and opened to the walk-in public.

Today, 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 works on western themes by such artists as Carl Oscar Borg, William Leigh, Frederic Remington, and Andy Tsihnahjinnie, and one room in the Art Gallery is reserved for the presentation of contemporary Native American art. A museum store offers southwestern arts, crafts, and books on prehistory, history, and 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, and special events and openings are a periodic feature of the Amerind calendar. Most of our special events and programs are now presented in the Native voice, and museum visitors can learn about Southwestern indigenous culture from the eyes of the Native People themselves. The Amerind also offers a comprehensive hands-on education program for children of all ages.

Notable Trails

Visitors can learn about the plants and geology of the grounds through self-guided walking tours.

On Saturday, May 9, 2020, Amerind opened a walking trail that ends at their bird pond. Surrounded by willow trees, walnut, hackberry, and mesquite—the pond attracts quite a number of birds each day. Enjoy the shade surrounding the pond. Kick back on one of the six park benches and listen to the birds. There is a self-serve registration station at the trailhead that all visitors should use. The trail is moderate and has very little shade. It will be a round trip hike of 1 mile.

The bird pond trail will open each day from 8:30 am until 3:30 pm, closed on major holidays. Amerind members can use it for free. The fee for non-members is $5 per hiker.

Content from Amerind Foundation website