Native American Artifacts @ the Washington Public Library

About the Collection:

Our collection of Native American artifacts was donated to the library in 1964 by Mrs. Emily Powis Simpson-Atmore, the widow of Rev. William Simpson-Atmore. Visit the Simpson-Atmore Biographical Page for more information about their lives. The majority of the collection comes from the American Southwest at the turn of the twentieth century, from 1890-1910, though some pieces are prehistoric or include prehistoric elements. Tribes represented include Southern Paiute, Navajo, Hopi, Western Apache, and possibly Jicarilla Apache.

Work on the Collection:

The library was good stewards of this collection for over 50 years. While moving into the new library facility in 2009, a grant was received from Humanities Iowa to have the collection appraised and described. Dr. Leona Zastrow from American Indian Art Appraisals out of Santa Fe, NM visited Washington, appraised the collection, and presented educational programs to the public. Due to its connection to the Southwestern United States, its historically significant contents, and the fragile nature of the collection, the Library Board chose to respectfully disseminate the collection. The first step the library took was to advance through the NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) process to make sure that any sacred or culturally significant items in the collection were properly returned to the custody of their tribe. That repatriation occurred on March 12, 2018, when eleven sacred objects were returned to the Hopi tribe in Kykotsmovi, Arizona. It was decided to keep a permanent collection of items in the library, highlighting the variety of tribes and items represented in the collection. That permanent collection consists of eight items that are on display in the library's second floor reading area. The remaining portion of the collection (the majority of the collection) was auctioned through a professional Iowa auction house on April 24, 2018 to provide for the future of the library.