Native American Artists Past and Present
Native Americans have been using natural materials for thousands of years as a medium to create utilitarian objects as well as to express their cultural and personal identity. Today Native Americans continue to practice traditional crafts that have been passed on for generations. Through the exploration of oral history and stories, and through viewing the work of contemporary Native Americans, it might be possible for archaeologists to enrich their interpretation of ancient artifacts. This web site of Native American visual art demonstrates that there may be correlations between the very first Native American artists and the contemporary Native Americans who are continuing the creative work today. This display brings together artifacts from archaeological sites in the La Crosse area, archival photographs (used with permission from the Ho Chunk Department of Heritage Preservation) and contemporary objects made by Native American artists from across the United States.
Tools such as screwdrivers, hammers, and knives are modern examples of tools found in your toolbox or kitchen that would have been made from stone in the past. Today these items are rarely made by individuals, instead they are manufactured by large companies. Archival images show the use of traditional materials continue to be used, such as the wooden hide scraper shown below, while metal tools replaced those previously made made from stone.
Contemporary Native people continue the art of pottery today with techniques and designs that are rooted in the past as well expressions of contemporary life.
Dorothy Decorah talks about her parents making baskets (transcript)
Linda Shegonee talks about Making Finger Woven Sashes 1 (transcript)
Linda Shegonee talks about Making Finger Woven Sashes 2 (transcript)
Linda Shegonee talks about Wearing Finger Woven Sashes 3 (transcript)