Della Warrior, the longtime head of the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology and a staple on the state’s creative and educational scenes, will retire later this summer, the state Department of Cultural Affairs announced Wednesday.
Warrior, who served as president of the Institute of American Indian Arts prior to joining the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, was appointed executive director in 2013 and was credited with strengthening the museum’s collection of Native art, establishing educational exhibits and helping raise money to support the organization.
“Although I will miss the staff, friends, donors and other [Department of Cultural Affairs] colleagues, it is time for me to retire,” Warrior said in a news release. “My perspective has been that visitors coming to MIAC want to learn about Native people and their culture from Native people, and so I have strived always to have Native artists and community members engaged in all of our programs and exhibitions.”
The Museum of New Mexico Board of Regents will start a search for Warrior’s successor, according to the news release. Matthew Martinez will serve as interim director.
Warrior, who is Otoe-Missouria, has more than 40 years of experience in management, tribal government, education, fundraising and economic development. She has a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma and master’s degree in education from Harvard University.
She received a lifetime achievement award from the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums in addition to several other honors during her career.
She served as a trustee for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and on the boards of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium and the American Indian College Fund. She was nominated by President George W. Bush to the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities.