Leader in Indian Education is Named Director of New Mexico Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

Editor | - June 14, 2013

'Della Warrior brings national stature and a wealth of experience in Native American education, tribal government, community relations and resource development'

Della C. Warrior (Otoe-Missouria) has been appointed to lead the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/New Mexico Laboratory of Anthropology (MIAC).  Warrior will commence her duties as director effective June 24.  The appointment is the result of a national search conducted by the Museum of New Mexico Board of Regents, which recommended top finalists to the Secretary of Cultural Affairs and the Office of Governor Susana Martinez for their consideration.

“This has been a long and thorough search, and Ms. Warrior brings national stature and a wealth of experience in Native American education, tribal government, community relations and resource development,” said Veronica N. Gonzales, Cabinet Secretary, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. “Ms. Warrior is highly credentialed and I am confident that her leadership and deep personal and cultural understanding will, not only continue to promote MIAC’s world renowned Native American treasures, but will propel the museum into a dynamic, living, cultural center.”

Ms. Warrior’s most significant work was as president of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe from 1998 through  2006, where she successfully developed a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art campus for the college. Under her leadership the college received national accreditation for its two-year and first four-year academic degree programs. Prior to her work at IAIA Warrior was elected as her tribe’s first female chairperson of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe where she also served as the tribe’s CEO and implemented a tribal law and court system, adult vocational training, adolescent health, juvenile prevention, and economic development.

Warrior’s experience includes serving as director of Indian Education for Albuquerque Public Schools, chief operating officer to the Yocha Dehe Wintun Tribal Nation in California and as an expert consultant in the establishment of the National Native Arts and Cultural Foundation, an initiative of the Ford Foundation.

In 2007, Warrior was nationally recognized when she was inducted into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame.

She holds a master’s degree in Education from Harvard University and a bachelor’s in Sociology from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma.

Warrior has served on national boards and achieved numerous national awards. She currently serves as Vice Chair of Wings of America Board and is a board member of the Mabel McKay Foundation.  Previously, she served on the boards of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities, the American Indian College Fund and the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium.

“I am thankful to be given this opportunity to work with an institution that has been vitally instrumental in showcasing the beauty of Native arts,”  Warrior said.  “My vision is for MIAC to become a leader in developing exhibits and programming that share the rich histories and vibrant cultures of Indigenous peoples by engaging Native people.  I look forward to working with Native communities to enhance MIAC’s educational role in sharing the traditional and contemporary histories and cultures of Native peoples.” She also expressed her enthusiasm to work with the museum’s staff and the many longtime supporters that have enabled the museum to be a showcase for Native American art, culture, and history.

The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture originated as the result of the Museum of New Mexico’s merger with the Laboratory of Anthropology resulting in the creation of the most inclusive and systematically acquired collection of New Mexican and Southwestern anthropological artifacts in the country.

In making the announcement , Gonzales acknowledged the staff at the Museum for continuing to offer excellent exhibitions and services during the search for a permanent director. She also recognized the hard work of Elena Sweeney, the deputy director of the museum, who has been serving as the museum’s acting director.  Gonzales also praised the search committee and the Governor’s Office in their careful examination of the many candidates and the top finalists.

The Department of Cultural Affairs is New Mexico’s cultural steward and is charged with preserving and showcasing the state’s cultural riches. With its eight museums, eight historic sites, arts, archaeology, historic preservation and library programs, the department is one of the largest and most diverse state cultural agencies in the nation. Together, its facilities, programs, and services support a $3.3 billion cultural industry in New Mexico.