The Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College in Claremont acknowledges that our buildings and our programs occupy unceded Indigenous land.
We recognize the Tongva people as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar, the Tongva world.
We are grateful to have the opportunity to work with and for the Indigenous peoples of this region and those whose ancestors and relations are represented in our collections.
We express gratitude for all those who have cared for the land we call home, and we pay respect to ancestors, elders, and relations—past, present, and emerging.
We welcome continued collaboration and guidance as we work to realize the spirit of these words more deeply and more completely.
The language of art history, anthropology, and archaeology—among many other disciplines—is constantly evolving. Terms such as work of art and artifact and temporal designations such as pre-Columbian introduce categories imposed on a vast range of objects created through time and across continents. These categories neither reflect nor respect the diversity of material cultures around the world and the conditions of an object’s creation and use within those cultures. As we learn more about the language used by Indigenous cultures to describe their objects, the language of art history will continue to evolve.
Pomona College has a collection of approximately 4,000 Native American objects that represent more than 100 tribes and peoples in North America. The collection is particularly rich in Californian and Southwestern basketry, Southwestern ceramics, and beadwork of the Plains and Great Lakes. It includes clothing and household items, decorative works, weapons, and ritual objects. The majority of these artifacts came to the College through a series of significant gifts from a small number of donors over the past 70 years (see Provenance).
This section of the Benton’s website is devoted to contextualizing both the contents and origins of the College’s collection. Here you will find information about the objects themselves and how they came to Pomona College, and the steps that the College and the Benton Museum of Art continue to take to ensure ethical and responsible stewardship of them, including compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and the museum’s outreach initiatives.
The Benton Museum of Art is eager to provide access to its collections to tribal members seeking objects made by their ancestors or contemporaries. Keyword search, images, and basic information are available through this portal. Records are continually updated to reflect current research and conversations with Indigenous community members.