PUEBLO – The University Archives at Colorado State University-Pueblo has received a grant of nearly $3,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Preservation Assistance for Smaller Institutions Program to preserve the Orman Native American Artifacts Collection. This grant follows a 2011 grant from the same program to hire a preservation consultant to assess and make recommendations about the collection.
The NEH Preservation Assistance Grants help small and mid-sized institutions—such as libraries, museums, historical societies, archival repositories, cultural organizations, town and county records offices, and colleges and universities—improve their ability to preserve and care for their significant humanities collections.
Authored by University Archivist Beverly Allen, the new grant will support the purchase of preservation supplies to re-house the Orman Native American Artifacts Collection. Among the nearly 200 artifacts to be re-housed are pots, baskets, leather, skin and fur objects, feather objects, textiles, wooden objects and stone and other heavy objects. Materials such as archival boxes and tissue will be used to store and pad baskets, leather, skin, fur and feather objects, and items of clothing; large textiles will be rolled onto archival tubes. Pot rings made of ethafoam will be used to support pots on open shelving.
According to Allen, the grant will support purchase of a data logger to develop an environmental monitoring system for the collections storage area and cover consultant fees to train the staff on the use and installation of the equipment, as well as the interpretation of the data. In addition, the grant will support training for the staff in the care and handling of artifacts, construction of pot rings, and standard registration methods. The goals of the conservation project are derived from recommendations from a 2012 general preservation assessment funded by NEH’s Preservation Assistance for Smaller Institutions program.
The Orman Native American Artifact Collection, assembled by Colorado Governor James B. Orman and continued by his son, Frederick Orman, was donated to the then Southern Colorado State College in 1964. The heart of the Collection includes approximately 200 pieces of Native American art and artifacts including Navajo rugs of the pan-reservation style of the early 20th century, pottery pieces representative of a variety of the Pueblo cultures, and a group of Jicarilla and Western Apache baskets ranging in date from approximately 600 A.D. to the 1930s. The scope of the Orman Native American Artifact Collection represents the broad and diverse perspective of Native American material culture as it includes materials geographically ranging from the American Southwest and from present-day Colorado north to Alaska.
Much of the Collection is textile, including approximately 45 Navajo rugs of the pan-reservation style of the early 20th century. It also includes five rare German town eye-dazzlers. The Collection also contains approximately 40 pottery pieces representative of a variety of the Pueblo cultures of New Mexico and Arizona which are contemporary with the textile collection, ca. 1880-1940. The pottery includes household pieces as well as several examples of wares made for the tourist trade. Several of the major pottery-producing pueblos, including San Ildefonso, San Juan or Santa Clara and Santo Domingo are represented. A sizable group of Jicarilla and Western Apache baskets dating to the early 20th century comprises the other large portion of the Collection.
The Collection also contains a small group of other items, including moccasins and beaded clothing; a headdress; three pieces of Northwest Coast sculpture; and a complete scabbard, quiver, and bow and arrows. The estimated time period represented by the bulk of the Collection is characterized by radical changes in Southwestern craft traditions. These changes can be marked through the use of new materials in addition to the social, religious and political contexts affecting the peoples who created the objects. Some of the documentation included with object and artifact acquisition by Orman clearly captures language and thought about Native American material culture of the time.