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Traditional Technologies Program

Established in 2018, the AAHS Traditional Technologies Program offers travel support for Native American and Hispano artists and scholars and non-Native students and scholars who practice or study Southwestern traditional arts and technologies. The first ten years of this program are sponsored by a donation from a benefactor. In the long term, the Society will raise money to enable its continuation.

 The program plans, implements, and supports two types of travel and research seminars: 

  • Organized international travel by a select group of Native and/or Hispano artists/scholars and non-Native anthropologists to communities in Latin America that continue to practice traditional craft traditions and lifeways.  
  • Organized domestic travel by Native American and Hispano scholars to U.S. museums to study Southwestern archaeological and ethnographic collections. 

One seminar will be offered annually, alternating between the museum-based and cross-cultural exchange programs. The program supports all travel-related costs for the participants. 

Funded Trips

The 2019 Traditional Technologies International Travel Seminar

The inaugural international study seminar held in March 2019 focused on the weaving traditions of Oaxaca, Mexico. The participants included four Tiwa, Hopi, Zuni, and Santa Clara/Comanche basket and textile weavers and scholars, a Chicano ethnohistorian and filmmaker, a non-Native archaeology graduate student of prehispanic Southwestern weaving, a non-Native biologist who studies prehispanic Southwestern weaving technologies, three members of the Traditional Technologies committee, and the then-President of the Society. The first seven participants were funded by the program. The trip was organized and guided by Traditions Mexico, an Oaxaca-based travel company with years of experience working with traditional indigenous artisans in rural Oaxaca. After visiting markets and archaeological sites in the Valley of Oaxaca near Oaxaca City, the group spent six days traveling through the highlands and lowlands of rural Oaxaca, visiting weavers, potters, and other traditional technology practitioners from five language/cultural groups–Zapotec, highland and lowland Mixtec, Trique, and Amuzgo. In rural villages, we met traditional weavers who use backstrap looms to produce amazingly complex textiles and learned about their efforts to preserve and revive their textile traditions. We watched demonstrations of the traditional practices of beating cotton fiber in preparation for spinning and the use of the stick-and-whorl spindle to spin cotton thread, and we were put to work removing seeds from natural brown cotton prior to processing. Finally, we witnessed the ancient art of purple shell dyeing on the Oaxaca coast. In each and every community, we were warmly welcomed. The participants are now working with their local communities, the Society, and the general public to share the knowledge and experiences they gained from the trip. 

Upcoming 2020 Museum Travel Seminar

In the fall of 2020, Diné weavers Barbara Teller Ornelas and Lynda Teller Pete will lead a group of six Diné weavers to Washington, D.C. to study historic and contemporary collections of Navajo textiles. The other participants are Kevin Aspaas, Sue Begay, Cheryl Begay-Mizell, and Michael Ornelas. These master weavers, educators, and emerging artists will visit the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of Natural History, and the Textile Museum to learn more about the past and collaborate on a plan for the future of Diné voices, views, and artistic efforts in Diné weaving. They plan to use this newfound knowledge to educate the tribal, local, and global public, and to engage Diné youth, disfranchised Diné, and their own community of artists to share experiences and create opportunities for artistic growth.

Future Trips and Funding Opportunities

International travel seminars will be held in odd-numbered years, with the theme and participants selected by the Traditional Technologies committee.  

Museum travel seminars will be held in even-numbered years, with awards based on selected proposals. Beginning in 2022, and every two years thereafter, proposals will be accepted between January 1 and February 15 for an organized group of up to six Native or Hispano artists/scholars to travel to one or more U.S. museums to study Southwestern collections. One proposal will be selected for funding each cycle.

For program information and proposal instructions, click here. 


For additional information, contact the chairs of the AAHS Traditional Technology committee: 

Louie Garcia

Laurie Webster