Museum of Indigenous People – Prescott AZ


The Museum of Indigenous People was constructed 1933-1935 by relief workers employed by the Civil Works Administration (CWA) and Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA).  It is built of local fieldstone and flagstone in a sober, if romanticized, indigenous style.

It was long known as the Smoki Museum after a local club of White businessmen who called themselves “the Smoki People” and dressed up as Hopi to perform native dances. After protests by Hopi, who disapproved of such imitations, the club stopped its dances and eventually disbanded.  The name of the museum was changed in 2020.  

The museum collection evolved from native artifacts donated to the Smoki Club and coming out of the first scholarly archeological digs at nearby prehistoric sites.  The museum became reality in the 1930s thanks to the New Deal and local activist Grace Sparks, secretary of the Yavapai County Chamber of Commerce, who ran the county CWA and FERA programs.

Museum display cases and furniture were crafted by members of the Smoki People club, but CWA workers created a fine diorama (scale model) the Montezuma’s Castle, a prehistoric cliff dwelling on the Verde River northeast of Prescott.

The museum is part of the Prescott Armory Historic District, which was placed on the National Register in 1994.  The latter also includes the former National Guard Armory (now the Grace Sparkes Activity Center), Prescott Citizen’s Cemetery, and the City Park and Ballfield (now Ken Lindley Field).


Source notes

"The New Deal in Arizona: Connections to Our Historic Landscape," The Arizona Chapter of the National New Deal Preservation Association, 2012.

Allison Dunn and Gina Chorover, Prescott Armory Historical District. Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS #AZ-14). National Park Service, Washington D.C. 2014.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

147 N. Arizona St.
Prescott, AZ 86301

Coordinates: 34.54337, -112.45899

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