Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Allan Houser

Allan Houser


Honored June, 1992

Allan Houser

1984, when the award was created, the National Medal of Arts has gone to a dozen luminaries each year, Georgia O'Keeffe, Marian Anderson, Ella Fitzgerald and Aaron Copeland among them.

In 1992 it went to Allan Houser, the sculptor whose works—monumental, intimate and steeped in history—are at home everywhere from the Smithsonian in Washington to the Pompidou Museum in Paris. He was the first Native American to win the award. Some might say it was long overdue.

A Chiricahua Apache, Allan was born on his parents' government-grant farm in Apache, Oklahoma in 1914, as the tribe was emerging from twenty-seven years as US prisoners of war, in forced exile from their native mountains in the Southwest. Allan's father, Sam Haozous, was captured with Geronimo in 1886, and later served as the great chief's interpreter. Allan grew up listening to his father play the drum, sing medicine songs and tell the stories of Geronimo.