Message #394:

From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG

To:   Matthias Giessler

Subject: Clara Lee Fraps Tanner Passes

Date: Wed, 24 Dec 1997 18:45:47 -0700

Subject: Tanner dies at 92; author was expert on Indian arts, crafts
Wednesday, 24 December 1997

Tanner dies at 92; author was expert on Indian arts, crafts (image)

By Jim Erickson The Arizona Daily Star

Clara Lee Fraps Tanner, an authority on Southwestern Indian arts and
crafts and one of the first three people to earn a UA master's degree in
archaeology, died Monday in Tucson. She was 92.

Tanner died after being involved in a car accident on Saturday in

She taught at the University of Arizona for 50 years, wrote 10 books and
more than 160 articles, and shared her knowledge and enthusiasm in
countless public lectures.

Several years ago, Tanner summarized her career this way:

``In my writing, I tried to preserve information about Indian art in a
simple, straightforward manner so that it might be of value to a larger

``I feel that the Indian has given us a tremendous gift. Indian art
roots are the deepest in the country, and they're very important. I
hoped to present in a truthful, non-exaggerated fashion the greatness of
Indian art, and hoped to leave this legacy for Indian art to the
American people.''

Tanner was born in Biscoe, N.C., on May 28, 1905, but moved to Tucson
two years later and spent nearly all of her life here.

She graduated from Tucson High School in 1923 and planned to major in
English at the UA until she took an anthropology course taught by Byron
Cummings, who was director of the Arizona State Museum.

That class changed the course of her life, and she earned an archaeology
degree in 1927. A year later, Tanner, Emil Haury and Florence Hawley
Ellis earned the school's first master's degrees in archaeology. Haury
became the pre-eminent Southwest archaeologist of his generation, and
Ellis was a distinguished archaeologist and ethnologist at the
University of New Mexico.

Tanner began teaching Greek, Roman and Egyptian archaeology at the UA in
1928. In 1940, she developed the UA's first Southwestern Indian art
course, which she taught for several decades. The course examined
basketry, textiles, pottery, jewelry and paintings produced by tribes
and communities throughout the Southwest.

``There are large numbers of people who studied anthropology at the
university and took her courses, then went on to become insurance
agents, housewives or secretaries. But they went away with an abiding
interest in American Indian art,'' said Raymond H. Thompson, director
emeritus of the Arizona State Museum. He knew Tanner for about 50 years.

``Today, Indian art is the sort of thing where if you're a movie star
you want a couple of Indian pots on your mantelpiece.

``But Clara Lee was into it before it became a big thing,'' Thompson
said. ``And I think that one of her enduring legacies is that she made
something that wasn't terribly well-known relevant to a horde of
American citizens.''

Her books on Southwest Indian craft arts and painting are among the most
popular books the University of Arizona Press has published. They
include: ``Southwest Indian Craft Arts'' (1969), ``Southwest Indian
Painting, A Changing Art'' (1974) and ``Prehistoric Southwestern Craft
Arts'' (1976).

Tanner was editor of The Kiva, a publication of the Arizona
Archaeological and Historical Society, from 1938 to 1948. She was
secretary of the Arizona Academy of Science's anthropology division in
1960 and 1961. She judged Indian craft art exhibits throughout the West.

Tanner retired in 1978 - after 50 years on the UA faculty - but
continued to write and lecture extensively.

``Mother felt a debt to the community, and she gave many, many public
lectures to every conceivable group, from children in first grade to
senior citizens in retirement homes,'' said Sandy Elers, her daughter.
``She loved the public and loved her students.''

The university recognized Tanner's contributions in 1983 by awarding her
an honorary doctor of letters degree. She has received many other
awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Craft Arts from
the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Barry Goldwater, former Arizona senator and avid kachina doll collector,
was among those who nominated Tanner for the Lifetime Achievement Award.

``I don't think I have ever known a man or woman who has done more for
the culture, history and understanding of the American Indian in the
Southwest than Ms. Tanner,'' Goldwater wrote.

She is survived by her husband, John F. Tanner of Tucson; her daughter,
Sandy Elers of Houston; a brother, Edward P. Fraps of Dallas; two
grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

A private memorial service is planned. Remembrances can be made to the
Clara Lee Tanner Publishing Fund, University of Arizona Press, 1230 N.
Park Ave., Tucson 85719.