Between 1906 and 1917, William Fulton Shirley, a native of Connecticut made several trips to Arizona and thus began a fascination for the early cultures of the Southwest. By the 1920s, he traveled east to west on a regular basis digging for ancient ruins and artifacts in the canyons and mountains. His collection of Native American finds continued to grow as did his passion for uncovering the long forgotten Indian culture. He finally purchased property in Texas Canyon which is between Benson and Willcox in 1931. The Amerind Foundation was formed in 1937. Shirley brought in archaeologists and other experts in the field to establish a private museum to preserve the fragile relics of the past. You'll find much more information at the museum's website.
For us, it was a little getaway to enjoy the unique rock formations of Texas Canyon and see what the museum had to offer. It's been open to the public for many years now and houses a one of a kind collection of Native American artifacts. Not only are Pueblo, Apaches, and Navajo represented, but you'll find bits and pieces from tribes from the Arctic Circle to South America. We were fascinated with the uses found for the common yucca plant. It's strong, tough fibers were usually woven into baskets, belts, and other utilitarian objects. It was also interesting to learn that the savage Apaches originally migrated from Alaska to the Southwest. What a change of scenery for those people! The Spaniards that brought livestock and horses with them changed the Indian cultures forever. The beautiful Navajo rugs that hang on the walls there are one example. Horses revolutionized travel, warfare, and commerce.
The grounds are beautiful and construction is ongoing to make the exhibits more accessible. The art gallery which is next to the museum has some wonderful Western art. My favorite was a Remington bronze which you'll see below. You also get to visit William Shirley's office there with its wonderful Spanish furniture and other treasures. There's something for everyone and the friendly docents offer helpful information. One disappointment is the ban on picture taking in the museum, but the art gallery staffer allowed me one of the Remington.
The picnic area which is a stone's throw from the grounds offers a peaceful spot for enjoying the views and wondering how those rocks got piled up like that. God must have had a bunch of fun arranging them for us. Admission to the museum is cheap - $8 for adults. Take a picnic lunch and do a little hiking afterwards. And by the way, if you're wondering how Texas Canyon got its name, it's because of all the Texans that settled there. Just another hidden treasure in Cochise County.
|Kachinas - Amerind Photo|
|The Remington Bronco|
|Texas Canyon - Picnic Area|