The First Nations are very blessed to have many unique and desirable forms of art. Much of the art was formed out of necessity and used on a daily basis. As the European influence swept across the country much of the art came to be used as a bartering tool. The Art modalities listed below are just a few of the styles that we have to offer.
Native American baskets were one of the earliest art forms made by prehistoric Indians. They were made as utilitarian pieces for storage, holding water and even cooking. Basket making is an ancient craft. Basket making preceded pottery making, so baskets that were used for cooking were lined with clay, and water vessels were covered with pine pitch. Today basket making has developed into a fine art, that few Native Americans continue to practice. Where baskets were once a common item among all tribes, the art has now disappeared among many Native American tribes, and the handful of weavers that continue this ancient craft are few and far between.
Many Navajo potters combine traditional techniques with contemporary styling. Traditional pottery is made by hand whereby the artisan shapes the sides by laying up coils of clay and then scrapes and smoothes the exterior to blend away any traces of the coils. The clay is collected by hand from deposits in the mountains or along streams and rivers and is subsequently soaked and strained to get the fine texture needed. Each pottery is hand-carved and etched into pieces. The carving is very precise and time-consuming. After the pottery takes form, each is hand-painted. The paint “slips” are natural pigments from the earth. Rain clouds, whirlwinds, water, mountains, lightning, and anything of mother nature are designs that the Navajos use. Some pieces feature Yei figures, or cornstalks. These elements are important to the Navajo culture. Sometimes the artist will use turquoise stones onto their pottery. The turquoise to the Navajo is a symbol of wealth and prosperity.
The Legend of the Dream Catcher:
According to the Sioux, the dream catchers will attract all dreams to their webs as they float by. It is believed that each carefully woven web will catch your dreams in the night air. The night air is filled with good and bad dreams. Good dreams easily navigate through the small center hole because they’re pure and intuitive. Then they slide down the feather and bless the dreamer with peaceful dreams. Bad spirit dreams will become entangled in the web and perish with the first light of a new day. Place the Dream Catcher above your bed or fireplace, the dream catchers will evoke good feelings and last a lifetime.
About the Flute: “The flute was given to the First People as a gift. The music is to be shared in prayer, in friendship, and in entertainment. Jonah’s flutes are made with materials that tell specific stories of the Navajo Creation and history. Buckskin covered the transformation of the First Man and First Woman into their human bodies. Feathers are from Turkey who saved the First People from starvation in this present world. Carved fetishes represent the relationship we have with animals. The flute bodies were discovered to make music by Wind.”
These handmade Kachina dolls tell the stories of long ago. Hopi legends and ceremonies speak of beings from the spirit world that look over us in our life. These beings are known as Kachinas. One of the art forms unique to the Hopi people is the carving of such dolls out of the cottonwood root. Witness the step-by-step process starting at the initial components all the way to the finished product.
Highly treasured by collectors, the Navajo rug has been an item that has been in high demand for hundreds of years. Originating back to the Spanish influence, hundreds of years ago, the Navajo people have created one of the most beautiful and desirable art forms. You will have the opportunity to witness this art form being created and learn the secrets behind it.
Witness the awe-inspiring beauty as silver and turquoise come together in perfect harmony. Watch as bracelets, necklaces and earrings take shape right before your eyes. This art form can be found all over the world and is truly synonymous with the southwest.
Used among many of the native nations, beadwork is found on much of the native dance Regalia (outfits) and is in high demand by collectors. Watch as tiny beads are painstakingly attached to leather to create such items as pouches, purses and earrings.
Watch in amazement as the picture comes to life right before your eyes. Truly one of the most unique arts of the southwest, the sand painter creates a complete art form using colored sand derived from traditional sources. This art form originates from a traditional healing ceremony. The format in which this art is displayed is not religious.