In 1902, Fred Harvey's daughter, Minnie Harvey Huckel, and her husband, J. F. Huckel, encouraged the Fred Harvey Company to develop the Indian Department. Herman Schweizer, the manager of the Alvarado Harvey House in Albuquerque and Native American arts collector, served as the first department head. The Indian Building at The Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque, Mary Colter's first major Harvey project, was the headquarters of the newly developed Indian Department. This department was responsible for the promotion of Native American arts and crafts as well as those of Mexico and Central America.
Following the success of the Indian Department, the company’s Indian Detours program was launched in 1915 and provided tourists the opportunity to visit local Native American communities. The Indian Detours program eventually provided tours of native and natural locations throughout the Southwest. The Indian Department and Indian Detours program helped define the company’s Southwestern influence and aesthetic.