The Anthropology Collection is subdivided into Ethnology (historic Native American) and Archaeology (prehistoric Native American) holdings. The distinction between the two is an historical artifact that reflects the way scholars thought about such collections, i.e. recorded history (when the Europeans arrived) vs unwritten history (pre-European contact). From a tribal perspective the Anthropology Collection represents an unbroken continuum through time. In general, Ethnology holdings passed through human hands until they were donated, commissioned, or purchased by MNA. Archaeological holdings have been excavated or surface collected from sites by professional and amateur archaeologists.


MNA’s ethnology collection (over 15,000 objects) contains significant Hopi and Navajo holdings with smaller holdings from Zuni and the Apache Bands.  The collection also contains representative holdings from other Pueblo groups (Acoma, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, etc.), and Havasupai and Colorado Plateau Tribes.


MNA’s archaeology collection contains artifacts from all over the Colorado Plateau, and is particularly strong in holdings from northern Arizona.  MNA’s site file system documents more than 30,000 archaeological sites and nearly 100 years of systematic field research. Learn more about the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).