Programs & Events

A portal artisan answers questions from a visitor about his handcrafted jewelry. Photo by Hannah Abelbeck

Portal Native American Artisans Program

The Native American Artisans Program offers buyers the chance to interact with artisans who display their handmade wares under the portal of the Palace of the Governors, as they have for decades. The ever-changing array of handcrafted items includes pottery, some textiles, and jewelry made of traditional materials such as turquoise, coral, and silver.

Since its founding in 1909, the Museum of New Mexico has worked to protect and promote traditional southwestern Native American arts and crafts. By museum policy and legal right, the portal of the Palace of the Governors has been reserved for use by Native Americans as a place to display and sell wares made by themselves or members of their households. Administrative and maintenance costs are minimal and are paid by the New Mexico History Museum.

With few exceptions, vendors are members of 23 federally recognized Native American tribes, pueblos, or nations located within New Mexico. Exceptions include spouses of New Mexico Native Americans who are themselves enrolled members of Native American groups outside New Mexico, and graduates of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.

More than 1500 artisans are currently authorized to participate in the Portal Program. All program participants must demonstrate technical mastery of their chosen craft as part of an application process.

The program is monitored by a committee of vendors (the Portal Committee) elected by their peers at the program’s annual meeting. The Portal Committee is responsible for monitoring daily operations of the Portal Program and are tasked with conducting daily inspections to ensure that only approved items are sold under the portal.

Established rules and regulations govern the conduct of the program and the quality of the items sold under the portal. These rules have evolved over time to meet changing conditions. All rule changes are subject to comment by program participants, reviewed by the state attorney general’s office, and presented for final approval to the Museum of New Mexico Board of Regents.

As a reputable and reliable outlet for their arts and crafts, the portal market has been of incalculable benefit to generations of Native Americans from New Mexico.


 

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