Anglo-sponsored Native art

In the 1920s and early 1930s, a society of wealthy Anglo artists based in Santa Fe began to take issue with the oppression of the region’s indigenous people by the United States’ assimilationist policies. Their activism established several institutions designed to preserve the cultural practices of, and generate social influence for, indigenous people: The Spanish Colonial Arts Society, the Studio at the Santa Fe Indian School, and the Indian Arts Fund, to name a few.

Contemporary analysts have criticized the dubious legacy of these Anglo activists and the institutions they established. Imposing commodity markets upon cultural practices, curating which of these practices should be ‘saved,’ and superimposing the norms of western arts society while stereotyping the role of “Indians” in the world, these efforts to combat assimilationist imperialism have been accused of the same imperious tactics.

Regardless of the political tensions inherent to these relationships, the art of indigenous people (including the Spanish settlers who had become indigenous) has gradually become more and more interconnected with the art of more-recent settlers. The result is a continually-renewing regional aesthetic that expresses global history.