Native American art was not created solely for its aesthetics it was integrated in other aspects of culture, it represented the values and events of the tribe, while providing basic needs such as shelter. Because of it’s vital role in all aspects of tribal culture, Native American art not only exhibits the diversity of the American Indians, but also their unique natural environments.
Before contact with Europeans, the materials used were found naturally in the tribe’s specific region. For example, a tribe from the Southwest, The Hopi of the Second Mesa used yucca leaves to weave their baskets. In contrast, the tribes of the northeast, constructed baskets from a variety of materials such as hemp and maize husks. Plains Indians relied upon the hide and bones of buffalo for traditional garments and jewelry. Northwestern Tribes used the amply available timer to craft elaborate totem poles and masks. Art was intertwined with the land the artist was from, during pre European contact, allowing for great diversity among the Tribes of America.
When the Europeans arrived with new and innovative materials, they became important for trade relations as they were extremely popular among Native...
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...thropologists have studied the effects of trade, migration, war, and missionary contact
Perhaps the best example of how western settlement and trade that disturbed the sacred aspect of some native American art are Kachina dolls. Kachina dolls were made to represent various spirits within the tribes’ culture and had different different symbols associated with them. Kachina dolls held valued religious roles in ceremonies and served to educated children on the tribe’s traditions’ and beliefs. When the tourist and souvenir market became an important part of the native American economy in the mid 1800s, much of the cultural symbolism was left out in the kachinas and they lost much of their deeply symbolic connection to the tribes they came from... Without this connection, the symbols eventually lost their associated meanings and aspects of culture can lose their meanings
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