The Elizabeth Willis DeHuff Collection of American Indian Art consists of 199 drawings, paintings, and sketches by Pueblo, Navajo (Diné), Apache, Cheyenne, and Kiowa Indian artists, including many works by young people. The artworks, which date from approximately 1917 to 1945, appear to have been produced primarily between the1920s and the 1940s. The collection reveals the connections and relationships that the DeHuffs cultivated with Indian artists in the Southwest and highlights, in some cases, the development and evolution of the individual style of specific artists and the prominence of certain themes and subjects in their work. The collection reflects Elizabeth DeHuff's interest in the art and culture of the Southwest, and her ongoing support of the artistic expression of young Indians.
The artworks in the collection were created both by DeHuff's students at the Santa Fe Indian School and by other Native artists. In many cases, the age and tribal affiliation of the artists is noted in a caption on the verso or recto of the piece. The drawings and paintings depict traditional stories and figures, traditional social and ceremonial dances, traditional designs, and daily Indian life. A number of the pieces are annotated in pencil, with markings and notes indicating cropping and comments related to printing.
Elizabeth's husband, John David, was the intended recipient of at least ten of the pieces. These artworks bear provenance statements on their verso and appear to have been given to the superintendent in 1917 by John Keirn, a teacher at the Moencopi (Hopi) Day School. The ten works were part of a series of drawings by Grade II and Grade III pupils. Only the first name of the artist was recorded.
An appendix, which indexes the artworks by artist name, has been created to aid researchers using the collection. In both the box and folder listing and the appendix, artists with a traditional Indian name and a name in the European tradition have been listed under the name they preferred to use. When known but not preferred, traditional names have been listed in parentheses after an entry.
Over 55 individual artists are represented in the collection, including Gilbert Benjamin Atencio (Wah Peen / "Mountain of the Sacred Wind"), Po-Povi Da / "Water Flower", Velino Shije Herrera (Ma Pe We / "Oriole" or "Red Bird"), Ben Quintana (Ha A Tee ), Julián Martínez (Pocano or Pho-Ca-No ), Pop Chalee / "Blue Flower", Santana Roybal Martinez, Tonita Peña (Quah Ah / "White Coral Beads"), and Quincy Tahoma (Tahoma / "Water Edge").