Inspiring Positive Change
The Della Warrior Endowment Fund
In 2017, after more than 40 years in higher education, Museum of New Mexico Foundation Trustee David Young retired from Arizona State University, where he served as vice president and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and senior vice president for academic affairs.
Young and his wife Sheila relocated to Santa Fe in 2018, a town neither had ever visited. At the couple’s first Indian Market, surrounded by more Native art than they’d ever seen in one place, David says “We fell in love with Indian Market, especially the pottery.”
Soon after, he continues, “We discovered the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, met Della [Warrior (Otoe-Missouria), the museum’s then-director], and we felt that the museum’s mission was really worth supporting.”
At the time the Youngs met Warrior, she was raising funds for renovation of the groundbreaking permanent exhibition Here, Now and Always. Impressed by the museum’s exhibitions and collections, the couple sponsored the “Community and Home” section of Here, Now and Always in honor of their late daughter, Liesel Diane.
David also immersed himself in many of the museum’s activities, such as the annual Native Treasures art market. In 2019, he was elected to the Foundation’s board of trustees. He soon joined the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture’s advancement committee, which helps raise museum funds.
At the committee’s summer 2021 meeting, Foundation President and CEO Jamie Clements broached the topic of establishing an endowment honoring the work and achievement of Warrior, who was retiring after eight years. Among the four Foundation-supported state museums, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture’s endowments have long had the lowest principal and payouts. Warrior’s long-time goal was to increase the principal invested in those endowments to $1 million. The Della Warrior Endowment Fund would support the museum’s exhibitions, education programs and collections.
Foundation policy requires a minimum of $100,000 to establish a named endowment. Young, who was sitting next to Clements in the meeting, agreed to launch the endowment, with he and Sheila contributing the first $100,000 as a challenge grant. This came in the form of a pledge over five years via a Qualified Charitable Distribution from an IRA.
The Foundation hosted a reception at Museum Hill Café to announce the endowment’s formation along with the Youngs’ generous challenge. Of the many in attendance were Olga Echevarria and James Hutson-Wiley, longtime museum donors, who most recently had sponsored the “Survival and Resilience” section in Here, Now and Always. Recognizing the importance of this endowment, Echevarria and Hutson-Wiley offered their own $100,000 matching challenge from their family’s foundation.
If matched, the combined Young and Hutson-Wiley challenges of $100,000 each would generate a total of $400,000. Other dedicated museum donors, including Ildy and Skip Poliner, have since made contributions to help achieve the challenge goal, which currently requires an additional $165,000.
As the museum's only unrestricted endowment, the Della Warrior Endowment Fund complements the museum’s other endowments, collectively generating consistent, impactful support for the museum for years to come. The additional endowments include the Friends of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture Exhibition Endowment (created by lead donors Uschi and Bill Butler); Museum of Indian Arts and Culture Acquisition Endowment Fund; Museum of Indian Arts and Culture Endowment for Youth Programs; and the largest fund, the Museum of New Mexico Foundation Endowment Fund for the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.
In the summer 2014 issue of El Palacio magazine, Warrior described her dedication to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, saying, “My life’s work has focused on bringing about positive change for Native people….My vision was to help build partnerships and collaborations with tribal museums and Native communities…to help them better understand and appreciate Native history, arts and culture.”
“These are sound reasons a fund was established at the museum in Della’s honor,” says Young—reasons that inspired his help establishing this important museum endowment.
“[Della] oversaw outstanding exhibitions such as Clearly Indigenous, grew the museum’s world-class collections, and most importantly, really engaged Native communities. Along with the other endowment donors, we hope that the funds raised will continue this positive movement.
To support the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, contact Lauren Paige at 505.982.2282 or Lauren@museumfoundation.org.
This article and image are the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s Member News Summer 2023.