Perhaps it’s Hollywood’s fault that the horse is the animal most identified with Native American tribal cultures. The humble dog, however, has a far more ancient role in American Indian life. Here in Santa Fe, Dody Fugate, a researcher at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, has studied approximately 700 dog burials in the Four Corners area, leading her to conclude that dogs were used in rituals to help escort their owners to the next world. Depictions of dogs show up in Ancestral Pueblo and Mimbres art, and historical evidence shows that trained canines were used by the people of Southwestern tribes as weapons against Spanish colonists. In honor of man’s best friend, the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (108 Cathedral Place, 983-8900) has a new exhibit called Doggie Dog, which features paintings and photos of dogs by Native American artists. The show, which is in the Museum Store and the Lloyd Kiva New Gallery, opens with a special dog-friendly reception on Saturday, Sept. 18, from noon to 3 p.m. in the museum’s art park (enter via the gate on E. San Francisco Street); dogs (accompanied by their owners) are welcome. The reception is free; the exhibit, which continues through October, is by museum admission. For more information, call 983-1666.
Pedro Toledo: Untitled, 2010, acrylic on canvas