American Indian Collection
Glencairn's American Indian Gallery is organized according to geographic regions and includes artifacts from tribes in Mesoamerica, the Northwest, the Southwest, the Plains, the Eastern Woodlands, and the Inuit areas. The oldest pieces date from 3000 to 1000 BC, but most were produced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many were used in daily life and illustrate the way that religion permeated the lives of Native Americans. Several objects have special religious significance.
The Hopi Indians believed that kachinas were supernatural beings embodying the spirits of living things (such as plants and animals), natural objects (such as clouds and snow), and also the spirits of deceased people. Kachina dolls were traditionally given to Hopi children on ceremonial occasions as part of their religious training. The Hopi people did not attribute power to the dolls themselves, but they hung them around their homes as a reminder of the kachinas' importance to everyday Hopi life.