What is the correct name?

My research has continued into the correct name of the Apache headdress we have on display. In a previous blog I had written about it being a Gaan Headdress also known as a Crown Headdress. Last week while updating some of the files on the Apache artifacts I came across the headdress being referred to as the Devil Dancer Headdress. What? I was definitely going to have to do more research! I ordered some books through the interlibrary loan to see what I could uncover. One of the books turned out to be very informative…

Masked dancers, “A group of masked dancer impersonating the supernatural spirits, or gaan. These dancers perform at various curing ceremonies and at a girl’s puberty ceremony. They have been variously referred to as Crown Dancers and, incorrectly, as Devil Dancers or as actually being the Mountain Spirits or gaan that they are representing.” (Ferg) In the religious belief of the Apache gaan or mountain spirits have the power to drive out evil. The Apache dance calls on the supernatural assistance of the gaan for critical moments in their earthly journey. In the past the mountain spirit was summoned for a healing. Today the dance is danced during the sunrise ceremony, a girl’s puberty rite. This ceremony is the most meaningful ritual.

The young girl becomes white painted woman, Mother Earth. The ceremony symbolically reproduces the creation of the earth, man creation, and the history of earth and man. It carries the girl symbolically through all the stage of her future life into a happy old age. The Mountain Spirit Dance, is meant to drive away the evil spirits and offer blessings to the girl, as well as the tribe. The girl is dressed in bright yellow along with a girl friend who dance in place on a special prepared ground. Five men enter the dance space, four portraying gaan and one a sacred clown, who prepares the way for the gaan. The men wear elaborate crowns painted with sacred designs and carry painted wands made from yucca. The ceremonial dance lasts for four nights, ensuing the spiritual assistance of the supernatural during this rite of passage into adult tribal membership.

Why not plan a museum trip this summer to see the gaan headdress. May the Mountain Spirit bring you blessings as well. God Bless.


Ferg, Alan. Western Apache Material Culture, The Goodwin and Guenther Collections. The Arizona State Museum. The University of Arizona by The University of Arizona Press. 1987.

Fuhrer, Margaret. American Dance the Complete Illustrated History.” Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data. 2014.

The Jicarilla Apache

Baskets made by the Jicarilla show little relationship to those made by other Apache (Mescalero, Chiricahua, or Western Apache) instead they resemble baskets made at an earlier time by their pueblo neighbors. The Jicarilla Apache migrated into the Southwest between A.D. 1200-1500, their history and basket making are closely associated with that of the Pueblo Indians. When the Jicarilla arrived in the Southwest the importance of basket usage was already in decline.

Migrating from the north into the southwest they established themselves in the mountains and plains of Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. These lands included the headwaters of five major rivers: Arkansas, San Juan, Canadian, Pecos, and the Rio Grande, in addition to high mountain ranges with conifer forests, fertile valleys, upland plateaus, and grasslands that extended from the base of the Rocky Mountains eastward. The Jicarilla had close relationships with Pecos, Picuris, and Taos Pueblos adapting many of their skills, including basket making.

Contact between the Jicarilla and the Northern Pueblos goes back hundreds of years. It appears that the Jicarilla Apache learned basket making form the Pueblo Indians. Their baskets resemble Navajo, San Juan, and Ute baskets in the materials used, woven right to left from the work surface, and finished with a herringbone rim.

I invite you to stop by the museum and see the beautiful baskets on display.


Dalyrmple, Larry. Indian Basketmakers of the Southwest. Museum of New Mexico Press. 2000.

Medical Tools owned by Dr. Littleton J. Bunch

I came to research Dr. Bunch after the museum was contacted by SLV Health to use his medical tools for their 90th Year Anniversary display. The Luther Bean Museum acquired the medical tools in 1989 by a donation made by his family. The objects date from the time of Dr. Bunch’s practice in Alamosa from 1952 into the 1980s.

The process to loan objects out from the museum involves a request form, which lists the items that will be on loan. The credit line is noted for the labels i.e. Loan from Luther Bean Museum, Gift of Littleton J. Bunch, M.D. The form is signed by a representative from SLV Health acknowledging receipt of the objects and by a staff person from the museum. I photographed the instruments before they left the museum. The photographs will show the condition in which they left and also what objects were taken by hospital for their display. I had the privilege of accompanying Tawney in taking the instruments to the hospital.

Dr. Bunch came to Alamosa because of his love for the west and the atmosphere of small towns. He wrote letters to hospitals in small towns in Colorado. The administrator of the Alamosa hospital Elton Reese was the only person who responded suggesting that he come to Alamosa for a visit. The Bunch family drove into town pulled into a gas station where a college student was pumping gas. The college student was asked if Alamosa was a good place to live. This college student was former Adams State College coach, Dr. Joe Vigil who responded to this question by stating that Alamosa was a great town and recommended it highly. Dr. Bunch received job offers from hospitals around the valley, the deciding factor for him to choose Alamosa was that the hospital was near the college. The Bunch family made their home in Alamosa in 1952 where he began practicing medicine as a family doctor.

The college atmosphere attracted Dr. Bunch that he volunteered as a teacher at Adams State where he taught biology classes. Later he taught medical terminology for those who were in the pre-med program. Dr. Bunch taught from the 1950s to the 1980s. When the college’s athletic doctor left for two years to receive more medical training Dr. Bunch became the temporary doctor.

Museum Acquisitions

My internship duties have been to work on new acquisitions the museum has recently acquired. One of the acquisitions was a portfolio of five drawings by James P. Hatfield given to the museum by Mary Motz.  Mary shared that it was about 30 years ago around Christmas time that Alamosa National Bank gave the portfolio to their patrons.

The acquisition process involves filling out different forms. One form is a Gift Agreement Form. The form list the name, address, phone number of the person who made the donation, the item(s) donated, the proposed credit line to acknowledge the gift and how it would appear on object display labels. For this donation it would read, Gift of Marvin ’58, ’59 and Mary Motz ’62. The owner signs the form stating that he or she is the rightful owner and holder of clear title for the items of property listed and that none of the object(s) are subject to liens. An authorized person from the museum also signs this form. Another form that was completed is an Acquisition Proposal Form. This form covers the object description such, artists’ info, object type, dimensions, credit line and inscriptions/distinguishing marks. The inscription for this acquisition had each print signed by Hatfield and four of the prints dated “74’”.

Who was James P. Hatfield? James came to Adams State in the late 1930s; he taught for several years and served as chair for the Art Department for fifteen years. He was an accomplished Artist/Painter; painting in a variety of styles that included murals, portraits, and landscapes. Through a generous donation made to the art department he founded the remodeling of the lobby in 1977 (now Community Partnerships). The space which was remolded was named for Hatfield. His name has been retained in the art department’s Hatfield Gallery.