In the middle of the 20th century, juried annuals of Native American painting in art museums were unique opportunities because of their select focus on two-dimensional art as opposed to "craft" objects and their inclusion of artists from across the United States. Their first fifteen years were critical for patronage and widespread acceptance of modern easel painting. Held at the Philbrook Art Center in Tulsa (1946-1979), the Denver Art Museum (1951-1954), and the Museum of New Mexico Art Gallery in Santa Fe (1956-1965), they were significant not only for the accolades and prestige they garnered for award winners, but also for setting standards of quality and style at the time. During the early years of the annuals, the art was changing, some moving away from conventional forms derived from the early art training of the 1920s and 30s in the Southwest and Oklahoma, and incorporating modern themes and styles acquired through expanded opportunities for travel and education. The competitions reinforced and reflected a variety of attitudes about contemporary art which ranged from preserving the authenticity of the traditional style to encouraging experimentation. Ultimately becoming sites of conflict, the museums that hosted annuals contested the directions in which artists were working. Exhibition catalogs, archived documents, and newspaper and magazine articles about the annuals provide details on the exhibits and the changes that occurred over time. The museums' guidelines and motivations, and the statistics on the award winners reveal attitudes toward the art. The institutions' reactions in the face of controversy and their adjustments to the annuals' guidelines impart the compromises each made as they adapted to new trends that occurred in Native American painting over a fifteen year period. This thesis compares the approaches of three museums to their juried annuals and establishes the existence of a variety of attitudes on contemporary Native American painting from 1946-1960. Through this collection of institutional views, the competitions maintained a patronage base for traditional style painting while providing opportunities for experimentation, paving the way for the great variety and artistic progress of Native American painting today.