North American Collections
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Green stone pipe in the shape of a duck with snake around neck Cahokia Mounds, Illinois YPM catalog no. 246188
Coiled grass basket decorated with dyed black triangles with negative crosses, men and animals YPM catalog no. ANT.201273

The North American anthropology collections in the Division of Anthropology include a mixture of systematically collected archaeological material from the Southeast, the Southwest and Alaska, and a variety of ethnographic collections from across the continent. The Southeast archaeological collections from Florida are extensive, and there are significant additional collections from Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and West Virginia.


The North American baskets are of great significance because they represent a wide range of ethnic groups and were collected at a time when traditional cultures and crafts were still active and comparatively unaffected by outside influences. Baskets of comparable quality and style are no longer available and this collection is therefore an archive of traditional technology and stylistic motifs


While the culture areas of all regions of North America are represented in the collection, the largest number of baskets are from the Southwest (279 baskets), California (245 baskets), the Northwest Coast (243 baskets) and the Eastern Woodlands (105 baskets). Some of the best represented culture groups include the Apache, Hupa, Klamath, Makah, Paiute, Pima, Pomo, Passamaquoddy, Tlingit and Yokuts. These baskets were collected primarily between 1890 and 1930 and constitute a unique and irreplaceable assemblage of Native American artifacts.

The Yale Peabody Museum’s North American ethnographic holdings are also particularly rich in Plains Indian objects, including clothing, weapons, pipes and utilitarian items. William Sargent and George Grinnell are two of the important donors of this material.

The Yale Peabody Museum’s collections are available to legitimate researchers for scholarly use. Loans are issued to responsible individuals at established institutions. Loans and access to the collection can be arranged through the Collections Manager.

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Study of the collections is restricted to students and scholars working on formal research projects who have obtained authorization from a divisional curator. This is necessitated by the limited available study space and the requirement that staff supervise visitors at all times. Scholars are strongly encouraged to view the collections at the Museum. Ongoing inventory of objects may restrict access to some collections.