Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

Comancheria: An Ever-Moving Culture at Museum of Indian Arts & Culture October 21

October 04, 2018


(Santa Fe New Mexico) --- For the second year, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture (MIAC) on Santa Fe’s Museum Hill is hosting the Tom Lea Institute, to highlight the famous El Paso-based artist and his work with Native American culture. October is Tom Lea Month exploring the legacy of this great American artist and his Pass of the North Mural.

Jhane Myers (Comanche/Blackfeet) will speak at MIAC from 1 – 2 p.m. Sunday, October 21 on on the Comanche culture – which has always been on the move and continues to evolve today. Her webpage, states, “Myers touches on every aspect of contemporary Native American art. When it comes to craftsmanship, performance, family tradition, historical research, and advancement of Native causes, she is an entire constellation unto herself. In all her activities, she projects the complex beauty of the American Indian way of life. As an artist, Myers handcrafts exquisite dance regalia for herself and her four children, all of whom are powwow champions. She includes accents of horsehair as an acknowledgement of the Comanche Nation’s relationship with the horse. She has a scholarly knowledge of Plains Indian artifacts, and is renowned for her Comanche beadwork, plains dolls, and beadwork, which win top awards, and which are included in museum collections. She also creates distinctive tribal dress-shaped pendants in sterling silver. Her Pendleton blanket coats sometimes include reclaimed fur colors.”

Myers’ focus for this lecture is Lea’s famous Comanche mural in Seymour, TX. While the mural is a reasonably accurate depiction of the Comanche in action, Myers said, she will go in depth to discuss the people, history, and culture of her tribe, especially their regalia.

“The time that is depicted in the mural – and even today – the Comanche were known as lords of the Plains,” said Myers, who has a special affinity for the clothing and ceremonial wear of the Comanche. “Since we were a nomadic culture, we have many materials that were indigenous to us from Idaho to Mesa Verde Gorge to the Yucatan peninsula.”

Exceptional horsemen who dominated the Texas frontier, the Comanche have come to be known as the most powerful Tribe in America. “It was due to our ever changing landscape – first impacted by settlers and then the reservation era – that kept us on the move,” said Myers. “One of the only ways to save and perpetuate our culture was through their things we wore and carried with us.”

Myers serves as Native Film and Special Projects Coordinator for the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and works with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. She was recently selected as a prestigious Time Warner Sundance Film Fellow.

“I am a fifth generation dressmaker from the Pennetukah (sugar eater) and Yaparukah (root eater) bands of the Comanche Nation,” Myers says. “I feel blessed to have been raised with the knowledge and traditions of my people. Making a dress is a celebration of our traditional arts and a testament to the survival and will of our great people. My grandmother raised me to always be aware of where we came from and our ongoing struggles of our Native people. My art is an expressive combination of this celebration and perseverance.” Excerpt from “Contemporary Native American Artists” by Suzanne Deats and Kitty Leaken. 

At end of his life, Tom Lea looked back on the time he painted his Pass of the North mural in El Paso’s Federal Courthouse in 1938. He said that he never researched anything more thoroughly, worked more tirelessly, nor enjoyed himself more fully than when he painted the mural for his hometown. One of 50 artists from eight state who submitted a design for the competitions held by the U.S. treasury Department, Lea’s contract specified a wall measuring 52 feet long by 12 feet high, pierced in the center by a doorway, with the inscription over the door: 



On either side he filled the space with giants, representing those who left their imprints on El Paso – the cavalryman, frontiersman, charro, Franciscan friar, pioneer woman, Apache, prospector, and sheriff among them. Some stand nine feet tall against a backdrop of Mount Franklin and the Juàrez Mountains, with the Rio Grande making its course in the valley between them.

For more information about the Tom Lea Institute and Tom Lea Month (October) .


About the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture:

As the 19th century closed, one of the Southwest’s major "attractions" was its vibrant Native American cultures. In response to unsystematic collecting by Eastern museums, anthropologist Edgar Lee Hewett founded the Museum of New Mexico in 1909 with a mission to collect and preserve Southwest Native American material culture. Several years later, in 1927, John D. Rockefeller founded the renowned Laboratory of Anthropology with a mission to study the Southwest’s indigenous cultures. In 1947 the two institutions merged, bringing together the most inclusive and systematically acquired collection of New Mexican and Southwestern anthropological artifacts in the country. The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. Hours: 10 am to 5 pm daily, May through October; closed Mondays November through April, closed Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. 710 Camino Lejo off Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87504, Phone: (505) 476-1269. Events, news releases and images about activities at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and other in divisions of the Department of Cultural Affairs can be accessed at



Related Photos

Indians, design for a decorative mural panel, 1933. Watercolor, 6 X 13. El Paso Museum of Art
COMANCHES, mural, 1942. Oil on canvas, 5 X 1317. Post Office, Seymour, Texas
Kachinas from Palulukonti, color sketch for an overmantel, 1927. Casein tempera, 18 X 10. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. James D. Lea, Houston.
Pass of the North - Apache Detail 6, Courtesy, Museum of Indian Arts & Culture
Sitting Bull, 1989. Oil on canvas, 62 x 27. Collection of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin.

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