HEYE, George Gustav
HEYE, George Gustav (1874-1957), wealthy New Yorker whose distinguished American Indian collections were the basis of the Heye Foundation, later to become the cornerstone of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, established by an Act of Congress in 1989. The museum is dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of Native Americans. In 1930, archaeologist Bruce Bryan wrote: : “Not long ago a portion of the Sanger collection was purchased by Mr. George Heye, founder of the Museum of the American Indian in New York City. Heye also added to his collection two or three of the inlaid slabs brought back [from San Nicolas Island] by Sanger, but though he has evidenced his interest in the California cultures by his purchases, he has not yet organized an expedition to work on any of the islands.” [Bryan 1930].
California artifacts from the Heye Foundation also ended up in other institutions, including: Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden, Netherlands; Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand; Goteborgs Etnografiska Museum, Goteborg, Sweden.
» Heye, George G. Certain Artifacts from San Miguel Island, California in American Indian Museum Notes and Monographs, Heye Foundation, N. Y., 1921
» Bryan, Bruce San Nicolas Island, Treasure House of the Ancients in Art and Archaeology XXIX: 5; 215-223, May, 1930.
In the News~
March 26, 1918 [TI/Avalon]: “Indian relics for Heye Foundation. Many valuable Indian relics which were found on San Nicolas Island by Arthur B. Chappell, Ralph Glidden and Arthur Taschenberger, in the Fall of 1916, are now on their way to New York City, the property of the Heye Foundation of the Museum of the American Indian. The original collection comprised some 900 pieces, including skulls, mortars, pestles, arrowheads, war clubs, knives, etc. Among the relics added to the Heye Foundation are two Indian spears, a decorated blow pipe, two smoking pipes, a skinning knife, a decorated dagger, a decorated flute, a medicine mixer, two knife blades, two soapstone battle axes, a decorated mortar (abalone money), a whalebone idol, two decorated pestles, a harpoon, a stone needle, a war club, a tombstone, a treasure box, and a decorated flute. Mr. E. A. Place, who is purchasing agent for the Heye Foundation, said: ‘The duplicates in the collection are of value to us from an ethnographical point of view, as they furnish evidence relative to the skill of the early inhabitants of the Channel Islands. Several years ago we purchased the Doran collection of Indian relics for the Heye Foundation at New York, and we believe that we have been able to complete the record by the material obtained from the San Nicolas collectors… Had we not already purchased the Doran collection of relics of the Channel Island aborigines, we would undoubtedly have taken over the entire collection of Messrs. Chappel, Glidden and Taschenberger. The relics will be displayed at 156 Broadway, New York City. At a later date the museum authorities expect to publish a monograph pertaining to the Pacific coast Indian, his habits, customs, skill, etc.”
August 16, 1920 [LAT]: “Catalina yields specimens that tell of distinct race of bygone age. Two perfect skulls were exhibited yesterday as the trophies of a day’s excavating at Catalina by Mrs. George Heye, who is visiting here with her husband, George Heye, founder and president of the Museum of the American Indian in New York, Harmon W. Hendricks, vice-president of the museum and Ralph Glidden. Mr. Glidden has for several months been conducting archaeological research work on the Channel Islands for the museum. Mrs. Heye made her discoveries on the Isthmus last Friday… ‘The collection of specimens which we have secured from Catalina Island in the eight months which Mr. Glidden has devoted to Catalina Island, far exceed my highest expectations,’ said Mr. Heye last Friday…’ A year ago I had bought the E. L. Doran collection of relics gathered at the Isthmus, and a collection from a scientist at Santa Barbara which gave us much of the shell and bone work of San Miguel and San Nicolas. But all were still incomplete. It is hard to say that one find is more valuable than another’…”
August 16, 1920 [LAT]: “Catalina yields specimens that tell of distinct race of bygone age. Two perfect skulls were exhibited yesterday as the trophies of a day’s excavating at Catalina by Mrs. George Heye, who is visiting here with her husband, George Heye, founder and president of the Museum of the American Indian in New York, Harmon W. Hendricks, vice-president of the museum and Ralph Glidden. Mr. Glidden has for several months been conducting archaeological research work on the Channel Islands for the museum. Mrs. Heye made her discoveries on the Isthmus last Friday…‘The collection of specimens which we have secured from Catalina Island in the eight months which Mr. Glidden has devoted to Catalina Island, far exceed my highest expectations,’ said Mr. Heye… ‘We found many pipes, both stone and clay, beautifully carved on bowl and stem,; said Mr. Glidden. ‘Most popular in the designs are the figures of birds, no doubt because these people were worshipers of the raven…”
October 19, 1920 [SBMP]: “…Ralph Glidden, who has been excavating on the islands for the Heye Foundation of the American Indian, has just shipped a cargo of trophies that include 122 dead Indians, and more significant, a large number of beautifully carved pipes and flutes…”
December 22, 1920 [SBMP]: “…Ralph Glidden, representing the Heye Foundation of New Your Museum of the American Indian, after searching in vain the sand wastes of the desert isle of San Miguel and nearly all the Channel Islands, is about to turn his attention to Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands convinced, he says, that Cabrillo’s burial place and leaden casket are somewhere else than on San Miguel. Accompanied by Arthur Taschenberger, who was with him during his three months on San Miguel seeking Indian relics, Glidden plans to search every foot of the two larger Channel Islands, it is understood, for historical data regarding the aborigines, including more than twenty large Indian camp grounds, traces of which, he declares, are still to be found.”
November 1, 1921 [OT]: “With provisions to last four months, Ralph Glidden left Thursday evening for San Nicolas Island, representing the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, New York City. An effort will be made to locate the exact spot where the "Lone Woman of San Nicolas" lived for more than twenty years.”
September 3, 1922 [LAT]: “Novel museum for Catalina. Two hundred feet above the Pacific Ocean and overlooking Avalon, on Catalina Island, Ralph Glidden — of the staff of the Museum of the American Indian, George G. Heye Foundation, in New York—will erect a museum of his own. Mr. Glidden is an archaeological authority on the famous Channel Islands, in whose history there is a steadily increasing interest… The Museum of the American Indian, George G. Heye Foundation, opened in 1916 in New York… Mr. Heye, director, commissioned Mr. Glidden to explore the Channel Islands and collect relics of vanished Indians. Although the islands have already been dug over by repeatedly by successive expeditions for archaeological research from this country and abroad, the results attained by Mr. Glidden have been little short of remarkable, in the judgment of scientific men. He has dug up more than 1000 skeletons. Nine months work on Catalina yielded 316. In five months he obtained 343 on San Miguel and 316 from San Nicolas in four months. Ass a result of these explorations the Heye Museum has the finest exhibit of Channel Islands Indian lore existent, not surpassed even by that of the Smithsonian in Washington.”
January 10, 1926 [LAT]: “Avalon… At White’s Landing, where William Wrigley, Jr., owner of Catalina Island, has engaged John Duncan Dunn to lay out a new golf course, 267 skeletons were removed and taken to the museum of the Heye Foundation of the American Indian of New York.”