Primary tabs

Cultures of North America

Since its founding The Field Museum has devoted considerable attention to the Native peoples of North America. The result is a series of collections of striking depth, strong in recent history and contemporary culture. Staff collaborate actively with Native American groups, who come regularly to visit and study the collections of their nations.


Image above: Woman identified as Annie Atliu, daughter of Chief Atlieu of the Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka), weaving baskets, c.1904. © The Field Museum, CSA13533, Photographer Charles Carpenter.

Cultures of North America Collections

Photo Archives - Native American Collection

Between 1895 and 1910, the Museum collected most of its Native American ethnological and archaeological material to augment the collections obtained from the World's Columbian Exposition. Between 1897 and 1898, free-lance photographer Edward Allen and Museum curator George Dorsey documented the daily activities, ceremonies and peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, and the plains, plateau and desert regions of the western United States.

North American Obsidian

Obsidian, natural glass formed during volcanic eruptions, was an important raw material in prehistory worldwide.  Obsidian was prized for tool making for a number of reasons, including its workability, sharpness, and visual appeal.  Consequently, prehistoric peoples went to great lengths to obtain obsidian, often from very distant sources.  For archaeologists, obsidian is a powerful tool for understanding prehistoric economy and interaction, because individual obsidian outcrops are usually spatially discrete and chemically distinct from one another.  During the 1960s, ar

North America Collections

Since its founding, The Field Museum has devoted considerable attention to the Native peoples of North America. The result is a series of collections of striking depth, strong in recent history and contemporary culture. Staff collaborate actively with Native American groups, who come regularly to visit and study the collections of their nations.

Paul S Martin Collection

The Field Museum of Natural History has an extensive collection of valuable archaeological materials from the southwestern United States, most often referred to as the "Paul S. Martin Collection." These materials derive from work conducted between 1930 and the early 1970s, when Paul Martin was involved in single-season and multi-season excavations at 69 sites; six major surveys were also undertaken during this period.