American Indian Art

Published on August 30, 2011 by Amy

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Plateau Pictograph Beaded Hide Vest
Plateau Pictograph Beaded Hide Vest
C. first quarter 20th century
Est. $3,000-5,000

The American Indians have long been proud of their art. American Indian art includes ceramics (including pottery), metalwork, beadwork, quillwork (embroidery using porcupine quills), leather items, paintings, basket weaving, and carvings – just about any type of art of which you can imagine. This American Indian art depicts their lifestyles, cultures, religion, and environment.

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Artifacts of American Indian art history have been preserved in such places as the Museum of the American Indian (Santa Fe, New Mexico), Museum of the American Indian (New York City), and the Museum of Mankind (London, England). As far back as 12,000 years ago, the first Indians began to inhabit North America. Remains of their art, in the forms of stone carvings and pottery, have been found all over the country. These were, of course, crude forerunners of the much finer artifacts of American Indian art found within the last 2,000 years. Most had earth tones of brown, red, and black and pottery was usually painted with images of nature, animals, or spiritual symbols.

The American people were divided into ten regions: the plains, the southwest, the great basin, the plateau, California, the southeast, the northeast, the northwest coast, the sub-artic, and the artic. Each one contained numerous Indian cultures. The American Indian art created by those in these regions depended on many things. Of course, the materials available to the Indians would have a great impact on the type of art they created, but also lifestyle and religion influenced the art. People such as the Plains Indians were nomadic and having to move around quite a bit caused them to create art that was easily transportable. The tribes that were known as hunters, such as the Sioux, decorated buckskin they used for clothing and shelter. In the harsher regions of the sub-artic and artic, the American Indian art was often produced from bone and walrus ivory.

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