Photograph depicting Antonio Zarco with his traveling companion, botanist H. Morgan Smith, in the Department of Anthropology Processing Lab, National Museum of Natural History. This photograph was made after Zarco's last donation to the museum of items from his tribal community (accession 349818). The photograph may have been made by Robert Elder of the Processing Lab or a Smithsonian photographer.
Antonio Zarco is an elder of the Choco Tribe of Panama. He served on the staff of the United States Air Force Tropic Survival School in the Canal Zone and worked with American astronauts for part of their training. In 1970, Zarco was at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama assisting in a course involving intercultural contact. After attending one of Zarco's seminars, Wilton Sterling Dillon, who was director of the Smithsonian Office of Symposia and Seminars, helped arrange for him to visit Washington, DC. When Zarco found no Choco material in the National Museum of Natural History, he donated items he had with him and made an additional donation after his return to Panama.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 82-49
Location of Other Archival Materials:
Items donated by Zarco can be found in the Department of Anthropology in accessions 296264, 307730, and 349818.
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
Photo lot 82-49, Photograph of Antonio Zarco and H. Morgan Smith, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
This collection contains 9 black and white photographs and photocopies of correspondence relating to a visit by Chief Antonio Zarco, a Choco Indian, to the Smithsonian Institution in early 1980s to identify objects in its ethnology collections. Also includes two color prints of Zarco, neighbors and children in Panama, 1963, during the filming of a documentary about U.S. astronauts.
Biographical / Historical:
The Choco Indians live in small tribal groupings in the rainforests of northwestern Colombia and southwestern Panama. Chief Antonio Zarco, a Choco tribal leader, visited the Smithsonian Institution in the early 1970s and was able to identify several objects in its ethnology collections. In the early 1980s, Zarco was invited to return to the Smithsonian to assist with identifying other objects in the collection.
NAA MS 1998-33
Manuscript 1998-33, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.