Discussion # 6 Topics on the Art of the Northwest art 109 sgc

These Southwest Tribes are located in Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado (the southern section). There are five tribes from the Southwest: Apache
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, Hopi
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, Navajo
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, Pueblo
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, and Zuni. Most of these Southwest Indians lived in villages and farming was their main occupation.

Southwest Indians create many beautiful pieces of art. They make pottery
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, clothing and baskets that are still sold in stores and arts and craft shows. Because they are very spiritual tribes, most of their art contains symbols and signs of their beliefs, dreams, and visions. The pottery is for both every day use and display. The clothing they make can be anything from an outfit, such as a dress with gorgeous flowers on it, to a elaborately decorated headdress, full of feathers. The Zuni and Hopi Southwest Indians carved dolls, called Kachina dolls
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, out of wood. The dolls were decorated with masks and costumes to represent the Kachina spirits. These dolls help children of the tribe learn tribal ceremonies.

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is a stone used in quite a bit of Southwest Indian jewelry
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. The Indians look at it as a stone that promotes health, happiness, and good fortune. The Navajo Indians are also well known for their silver belts and jewelry. They learned to work with silver from the Mexicans. Perhaps the greatest skill of the Southwest Indians is in their basket making. After hand weaving the baskets, the Southwest Indians decorate them with colors and patterns. The methods the Hopi use to make baskets have not changed in hundreds of years.

Mission Indians: Learn about the California Mission Indians from their beliefs to their lifestyle.

The naming of a newborn baby is such an important part of the Southwest Indian culture that it is not done by the parents, but relatives and tribe leaders. Hopi babies are not named until 20 days after they are born. Most Indian babies spent the early years of their life strapped to their mothers in what is sometimes referred to as a papoose
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. Young girls learn to help around the camp, doing chores such as making food, weaving baskets, and sewing. Young boys of the Southwest Indian tribes learn to make weapons and hunt.


Kachina, Hopi
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katsina, in traditional religions of the Pueblo Indians
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of North America
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, any of more than 500 divine
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and ancestral spirit beings who interact with humans. Each Pueblo culture
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has distinct forms and variations of kachinas.

Two replies:

Animals were of great importance to the peoples of the Eskimos, Haida, Kwakiutl and Tlingit. They used them as the basis for their transformation masks, which they used during potlatch and myths. Many myths revolve around the supernatural trickster. For example, the Raven in their mythology is known as an unsurpassed deceiver who can transform into other animals and help people. Animals also represent different clans in the region, and each clan is divided into numains or groups that have a common ancestor.
The artwork I chose is the Thunderbird transformation mask made by the artist Namgis (from Kwakwak’wakw). It features an open thunderbird mask revealing a human face inside with two snakes painted on each side of the face. Under the muzzle is a small bird, above the muzzle is a black figure. The function of this piece of art is that the owner of the home will wear it on the potlatch to showcase his status as well as depict the family’s genealogy. They will wear it along with the costume and other masked dancers.


Among the people of the Eskimo, Haida, Kwakiutl and Tlingit people, animals were perceived to be of great importance due to the functions that they played in the economy, during rituals and also in the day to day activities of these people. Since vegetables did not thrive due to the cold conditions, they relied on walrus, seal, fish and whales for meat during the cold season and during warms summer seasons, they hunted land animals such as caribou. They also used dogs for dogsleds as a means of transportation. In rituals, animals were also perceived to have supernatural power. Ravens for example were believed to be consummate tricksters as they had the ability to change into other creatures, but they also helped humans as they provided them with salmon, fire and the sun. Thunderbirds on the other hand were believed to cause thunder when they flapped their wings and it is said that lightening came from their eyes.

For this discussion, I decided to focus on the Yup’ik dance mask that was commonly worn by dancers of the Yup’ik people during traditional ceremonies. These masks measured approximately 49 by 39 centimeters and was made of driftwood, feathers, a bit of paint and cotton twine. These masks were usually carved by young men while spiritual leaders oversaw the masks as they were made. They were worn during ceremonies to show the relationship between animals, humans and the spirit world. These masks were made in pairs.

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