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Antelope Valley Indian Museum
15701 East Avenue M
Lancaster, CA 93535
Standing snugly among the majestic of the Shoshonean granite outcroppings of Piute Butte, the Antelope Valley Indian Museum incorporates the bedrock into its interior and exterior design. The folk art construction of this one-of-a-kind building - listed on the National Register of Historic Places - is a Tudor Revival-style structure, inside of which is incorporated an entire natural rock formation. Located in the Mojave Desert at the northeastern corner of Los Angeles County, the museum displays artifacts of the American Indian groups of three major cultural regions - the Southwest, the Great Basin and California.
American Indian Peoples At the end of the Ice Age, lakes, springs and a variety of natural food resources provided the native people with all they needed to survive and thrive here. For at least 4,000 years, groups traded with each other along vast routes that extended from Mexico to Northern California, and from the coast to the Southwest. Artifacts discovered by archaeologists have been dated as far back as 11,000 years, though little is known of these ancient cultures. Later artifacts attest to the everyday lives of these people over time. Grinding tools reveal how they processed plants for food, while spear and arrow points provide insight into their hunting methods. Perhaps as much as 2,000 years ago, speakers language group - the Kitanemuk, Tataviam, Kawaiisu and Serrano cultures - became the valley's inhabitants. In the late 1700s, their lives were drastically changed by the arrival of the Spanish and other Europeans. Franciscan priest Father Francisco Garcés passed among the native people in 1776 on a trip through the Mojave Desert, keeping a diary that has been invaluable in determining what groups lived here. Contact with Europeans and American immigrants increased gradually until the Indians found themselves being "resettled" in the mission system. In 1853 Fort Tejon was established just west of the valley, ostensibly to protect the Indians. Though many Indians deserted the fort over the years, the U.S. government continued relocating them to reservations into the 1900s.
Howard Arden Edwards, a theatrical set painter and self-taught artist, so admired the grandeur of the Antelope Valley that he decided to make Piute Butte his home. In 1928 he homesteaded 160 acres, and with his wife and teenage son started construction on their home. The home included an exhibit area that Edwards called his Antelope Valley Indian Research Museum to display his large collection of prehistoric and ethnographic American Indian artifacts. In 1939 Grace Wilcox Oliver, a student of anthropology, bought the Edwards home. She added her own collections, converted= the living quarters to exhibit rooms, and opened it in the early 1940s as the Antelope Valley Indian Museum. Ms. Oliver operated the museum for more than three decades, continuing to add to the collection over time. In 1979, with the support of local groups and individuals, the State of California purchased the museum. Grace Oliver donated its artifacts at that time. California State Parks designated the museum as one of its regional Indian museums in the mid-1980s. The collection of prehistoric, historic and contemporary artifacts comes from various geographic regions: the Southwest region is represented in the Kachina Hall and Southwest Room; the upstairs California Hall houses artifacts from California Indian cultures. The Great Basin and Antelope Valley rooms present the peoples of the western Great Basin.
Location - Directions
It is 19 miles east of the Antelope Valley Freeway (State Highway 14), at 15701 East Avenue M in Lancaster.
Go East on Avenue K to 150th Street East, go south on 150th for 2 miles. Turn left on Ave. M, and go east for 1 mile to the museum. Or exit Pearblossom Highway (138) at 165th Street East and travel north. Bear right as 165th turns into 170th Street East. Continue north on 170th to Avenue M. Turn left on Avenue M, and go west for 1 mile to the museum.
Antelope Valley Indian Museum: Brochure
FaceBook Page: Antelope Valley Indian Museum Facebook Page
California Department of Parks and Recreation: Antelope Valley Indian Museum
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