This article explores the status of R.C. Gorman (Navajo) within the art community of San Francisco, California, in the 1960s. Using Gorman’s personal papers, the article addresses how his queer identity, Navajo heritage, and Native urbanization contributed to his production of world-renowned art. Gorman’s representation of strong Navajo women, which made him a universally recognized artist, stemmed from his own exploration of gender performativity and homoeroticism while living in an urban gay mecca. Moreover, Gorman’s use of both resources in the city and the southwestern Indian art market allowed him to forge a successful art career. A formative figure in the Native American Fine Art Movement, Gorman’s experiences in San Francisco suggest that indigenous creative practices challenged a dominant interpretation and construction of the inferiority of American Indians.

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