Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Warren DaveDave Warren

Honored June, 2013

Dave Warren

 “Dave Warren is a man of fine mind and generous heart.”  “He does not fit any existing classification system…because he is one of those unique human beings that is capable of hovering above those systems in the world of ideas.” “Dave is an inspiration to me because he is a kind, caring person and a thinker of big ideas.”  Colleagues have expressed these thoughts about Warren, a historian, professor, and community history organizer.

     Dave’s father was Chippewa, his mother Santa Clara. His parents emphasized the importance of education. His father was teacher and principal at several Indian schools. A natural athlete, Daave excelled in tennis, swimming and basketball.

   In college, he majored in education. He taught 8th grade social studies focusing on Russian civilization with an interdisciplinary approach, a model for his future work. In graduate school at the University of New Mexico, he switched from school administration to history through the guidance of Professor France Scholes.  At the University of the Americas in Mexico City, he studied language, anthropology and ethnohistory. When he returned to the U.S., he used these methodologies with American Indian communities to record their oral traditions, write their own tribal histories, and develop language programs and tribal cultural centers.  

    In 1968, Dave became Director of Curriculum and Instruction, then Director of American Indian Arts. Dave also worked at the Smithsonian Institution, and was founding Deputy Director of the National Museum of the American Indian. He has taught at universities in Nebraska, Oklahoma, and at Colorado College.  

     Dave was the first Native American to serve on the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He was the U.S. representative to the Inter-American Indian Institute for several years. He has also consulted with indigenous cultural preservation groups in Australia, Tibet and China.

      Dave’s many awards include those from the New Mexico Foundation for the Humanities, the New Mexico Commission on Indian Affairs, an honorary doctorate from Tulane University, and the Southwest Association Indian Arts Povi`ka  Lifetime Service Award. 

     Dave expressed his view of life: “We may think we create our life’s path, but in truth it is the contacts and relationships we make. I’ve been a very lucky human being because of what others have made possible for me.”


Story by Margaret Wood

Photo © 2013 by Genevieve Russell