In Memoriam: Eleanor Tulman Hancock


Eleanor Tulman Hancock, respected dealer in North American Indian Art, died after a brief illness on June l5, 2017.  Eleanor is survived by her beloved son Mason and granddaughter Leah, and her husband of 46 years, James.  Eleanor was predeceased by her dear brother Eli and former husbands, the composer Lan Adomian and physicist Marcel Weinrich.  

After college, Eleanor began a career as an actress in New York City. She pursued a Master’s Degree in English from Union College, Schenectady, NY, and worked in Public Relations before discovering her passion for American Indian jewelry, which led to an intensive study of American Indian Art. 

A highly-respected dealer for over 50 years, she specialized in notable examples of American Indian jewelry, pottery, basketry, textiles (including several Navaho First Phase Chief blankets), Kachinas, beadwork, and art of the Northwest Coast and Inuit. Eleanor became a trusted adviser to major collectors and museums in the United States and in Europe. Objects, formerly in her collection, are exhibited in many museums including the Ralph T. Coe and the Charles and Valerie Diker collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Thaw Collection at the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; and in the Ralph T. Coe Foundation collection of American Indian Art, Santa Fe.  Works from her personal collection were included in exhibitions at the American Museum of Natural History, The Brooklyn Museum, and the National Museum of the American Indian, of which she was an early supporter.

Eleanor was a long-time member of the Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association and the Appraiser’s Association of America.  A devotee of all the arts, Eleanor shared her love of theater, museums, ballet and concerts with her many devoted friends.  She will be remembered for her indomitable spirit, generosity, and unfailing concern for friends and family, as well as her fashion flair, which always included spectacular antique silver and turquoise jewelry. Eleanor was a longtime supporter of NOW.   Memorials are planned for late September and early October in Gloucester, MA and New York.  For details, please write:

ATADA Foundation Update - Summer 2017

The ATADA Foundation had its beginnings as a scholarship designed to fund young Native American artists and Native Art History students. Since that time ATADA has expanded those early efforts to include donations to many causes dealing with indigenous interests on a global scale.

In the past year the ATADA Foundation has maintained those original intentions with continued support of the Phillips Scholarship for young artists carried out through the Heard Museum as well as a first time donation to Soul of Nations. A native run organization, Soul of Nations strives to enhance opportunities for indigenous youth.

ATADA’s donation to Soul of Nations went to support their annual Brea Foley Portrait Competition which was held on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Born of a deep appreciation for the longevity of culturally infused artwork, the Brea Foley Portrait Competition is dedicated to showcasing and celebrating cultural art created by Native American youth. Finalists traveled to New York for a reception at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. Included in the number of attendees at that event was the current president of ATADA, John Molloy.

Through continued support of these and other projects, the Foundation hopes to promote greater understanding between indigenous peoples and the collectors of the world who admire their artwork.

2017 Brea Foley Portrait Competition Finalists

Opening this weekend: Leekya Family exhibition at the Albuquerque Museum


Albuquerque Museum
June 24 - Sept 24

Zuni carver Leekya Deyuse emerged in the early 1900s as the preeminent maker of stone figural sculptures, fetishes, mosaic work and figural jewelry in the 20th century.

Leekya, Zuni (1889-1966)
Frog carving given to Kenneth Wallace, 1930s-1950s
Zuni stone, coral, jet
Photographer: David Nufer
Courtesy Albuquerque Museum
Gift of Kenneth Alan Wallace and his children, Andrew, Aaron, Susanna, Megan and Glen

Leekya Deyuse (1889-1966), Zuni, New Mexico
Leaf Necklace, ca. 1935
Silver, turquoise and coral
Length: 33 1/2 in.  (85.1 cm)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Gift of Mrs. David T. Beals,

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A number of questions regarding ATADA policies have been raised since the May 22, 2017 Santa Fe symposium, which included coverage of the ATADA Voluntary Returns program and the amended ATADA Bylaws, and presented ATADA’s legal response to the STOP Act. This note is to address some of those questions. We strongly encourage all members to review the changes to Articles X and XI in the ATADA Bylaws.

ATADA is a professional business organization and its primary interest is to protect the business interests of its members. ATADA remains fully committed to its original objectives, as stated on the Bylaws and Policies page of the ATADA website:

“…We support the lawful circulation, trade, collection, preservation, appreciation, and study of art and artifacts from diverse cultures. Our objectives are to promote ethical and professional conduct among art dealers, to encourage the responsible collecting, research, and study of tribal arts and culture, and to educate the public in the contribution of tribal cultures to the wealth of human experience.”

ATADA is following a multi-pronged path in order to effect positive change in the STOP Act and to increase understanding between tribes, legislators and the art trade. Along with the Voluntary Returns program and legislative input, recent amendments to the ATADA Bylaws have been enacted by the ATADA Board.

These amendments are intended to codify standard best business practices and to harmonize ATADA’s due diligence policies with those of other art trade organizations. In this, ATADA is in line with other professional art organizations in Europe and the US. Proper due diligence will protect ATADA members from false claims of poor organization, money laundering or dealing in stolen objects. These due diligence standards can be found under the Bylaws’ Article X – Trade Practices, Ethics, and Guarantees.

The Bylaws also establish ethical guidelines for ATADA members with respect to the sale of certain limited types of objects. Article X states that ATADA dealers will not deal in a very limited subset of objects that are “known to be of important current sacred, communal use to Native American tribal communities.” These terms do not include the word “ceremonial,” which is often too broadly applied. Objects ATADA has identified as inappropriate to sell are “Zuni war gods, Acoma and Laguna flat and cylinder dolls, Hopi ‘friends’, and Navajo masks,” “altar elements and items from shrines belonging to the community.” Sale of these items is already not allowed in many of the shows in which ATADA dealers sell.

Article X also states that, “ATADA does not regard items made for commercial or individual use by Native American artisans as sacred, or communal, regardless of age.” Defending this legal trade in Native American and other tribal objects is an essential task for ATADA, as a primary representative of the tribal art trade in the U.S. and internationally.


ATADA has not yet seen a text of the new 2017 STOP Act, although we are in discussions with some of the drafters of the coming legislation. We have already responded to a summary provided to us with what we believe is helpful criticism of some elements, and with praise for the removal of a number of harmful provisions and for its inclusion of a “voluntary returns” program. We are pleased that those involved in drafting the Act believe that a voluntary returns program such as ATADA has initiated will do more than any federal legislation to bring important objects back to tribes. ATADA would like to see a STOP Act that is constitutionally sound, does not jeopardize US citizens’ property rights, facilitates and strengthens sovereign tribal institutions and encourages tribes to enact their own laws.

ATADA’s own Voluntary Returns program continues to bring important objects back to tribes. To ATADA’s knowledge, every item returned through this program to tribes has been legally purchased and owned. All returns are voluntary. ATADA is working hard to obtain documentation from the tribes so that donors can receive an appropriate tax deduction for these gifts.

ATADA efforts, both legislatively and through the Voluntary Returns program, have been successful in raising public and Congressional consciousness of the importance of the lawful trade and of flaws in recent legislation, including the 2016 TAAR Act and the 2016 STOP Act.

 ATADA encourages members to send questions about ATADA’s policies and about the symposium to David Ezziddine at When you write, please let us know if we may share your questions in a group answer via email to the membership.

Recent Press Coverage of ATADA's Voluntary Returns Program

Native America Calling: Thursday, June 8, 2017 — Auction house ignores pleas to stop damaging sale

In this broadcast from June 8, ATADA Legal Committee member, Vanessa Elmore discusses ATADA's efforts continue the dialogue and help resolve the issues surrounding objects of cultural patrimony. 


Audio courtesy of: Native America Calling

In this episode of New Mexico in Focus, Robert Gallegos (Founding Board Member and Legal Committee Member), talks about the new directions ATADA is taking with tribal objects of cultural patrimony.

Video Courtesy of: New Mexico in Focus, a production of New Mexico PBS.