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Native Americans, Indigenous Peoples of North America, have a rich and diverse history of art and culture.

Despite the violent history of the treatment of Native peoples in the United States, traditional art forms such as pottery, weaving, and jewelry-making have endured. Contemporary artists are carrying on cultural traditions as well as developing their art in the present day.


Navajo art
Navjo ceremonies often combine many art forms like weaving, jewelry, painting, and dance.
UNESCO photo: Marcel Salvaro

Navajo art
The Navajo are famous for the geometric forms in their jewelry and weavings.
UNESCO photo: Marcel Salvaro


Learn more about the Navajo and their art:


Navajo Nation outside link

Navajo Central outside link

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Overview
Focus
Focus:
Navajo Art

Project:
Art Exhibition


Focus
Focus:
Navajo Art


Weaving
The Navajo people have been recognized as extraordinary artists.

In the 1800s, the Navajo were forcibly removed from their homelands and then allowed to return years later to an area a fraction of the size of their former lands.

During this time Navajo women wove beautiful blankets expressing warmth, earth colors, and unique designs. These designs often depicted earth-like patterns, figures of Navajo spiritual significance, or at times, certain characteristics that Traders felt would please non-native consumers.

The textiles of the Navajo represented both the powerful artistic vision of the weavers, and an important source of economic sustainability. Today, the quality of Navajo rugs and weavings continues to be recognized.

Jewelry
Jewelry is another example of the artistic strengths of the Navajo people. Silversmithing dates back to the 1800s when Navajo artists began melting silver coins to make jewelry.

Navajo smiths then began adding large chunks of stones, usually turquoise, to the silver in unique designs. Over time, they developed tools and techniques to stamp or engrave the metal.

Today, Navajo jewelry is well known and highly valued by both Native and non-Native Americans. It remains a distinctive feature of Navajo history and culture.

Sandpainting
Traditional sandpainting, considered a sacred art, is another important aspect of Navajo art and culture.

Sandpainting represents a sacred process as well as a beautiful end result. It entails the artist, or healer, slowly releasing colored sand through his or her fingers to form patterns that tell a spiritual story. The making of the art is part of the healing process.

While commercial sandpaintings use adhesive to bind the sand patterns to wood, ceremonial sandpaintings are not created to last permanently. Sandpainting images are also reproduced on rugs, drawings, and plywood for consumer purchase.



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Project:
Art Exhibition




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