Native American Art

Just like music plays an important role in Native American culture, art has a very special place as well. The use of art has been used as a form of expression in the Native American way of life for hundreds, even thousands of years. Most art was created as a symbol, such as a bear, walrus, eagle, or people. The materials to make this artwork varied from rocks, feathers, cloth, clay, and fabric.

Basket weaving was a very popular form of artwork that served a dual purpose. Reeds and cornhusks were woven together to create intricate baskets. The material would be dyed to make interesting tribal patterns, resulting in a beautiful piece of art that was also useful, as the baskets were used to transport fruits and vegetables. Blanket weaving was also a very common Native American art practice. Women would spend many hours weaving threads together to create unbelievable colorful blankets in a rainbow of patterns and designs. The Navajo tribe is very well known for their hand woven blankets.

In the colder regions, Native Americans enjoyed creating art as homage to their animal friends. Walruses were commonly carved out of whales’ teeth, and eagles and bears were made of rock. Pendants and statues were often created to symbolize the respect the tribes had for the animals. Instruments and weapons were also considered a form of art for Native Americans, as everything they made was done with care and time. Totem poles were probably the most elaborate form of Native American art. These huge, tall wooden sculptures represented generations of family members. Each “face” in the totem pole was a different representation, ranging from animals’ faces to people faces, and wings would often be protruding from the totem pole as well. This has long been a symbol of Native American heritage, and a truly important part of their culture of art.

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