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The Spirit of Things in Arizona

By Linda Tancs

The Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, has one of the most outstanding collections of American Indian artwork in the country. It was founded in 1929 by Dwight and Maie Heard as a museum to house the family’s private collection of native artwork. Over the years it has become particularly known for its broad collection of about 1,200 katsina dolls donated by the late Senator Barry M. Goldwater and the Fred Harvey Company. In Hopi culture, katsina dolls are the carved representations of the Katsinam, the spirit messengers of the universe. Made from the root of the cottonwood tree, the dolls are distributed to young girls to teach them about their role in the tribal community. This art form enjoys commercial success as well, and the dolls are treasured by collectors worldwide.

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