Friday, September 23, 2016

National Museum of the American Indian

You can find the National Museum of the American Indian at the foot of Manhattan Island in Bowling Green near the South Ferry Docks.
John and I love Plains Indians drawings. The current exhibition features works on hide and muslin like this elk skin recording war deeds by the Blackfoot, Mountain Chief.
He records horses stolen (hoof images) and bears killed.
Here is North Dakota artist Long Soldier's Winter Count, ca. 1902. It records important events from that year.
The line and colouring is exquisite.
Identification of the individuals portrayed is indicated by the symbols above their heads.
Brave attacking a US soldier. American artist Saul Sternberg must have found inspiration in these witty drawings.
A Lakota warrior captures horses from an enemy camp.
A Shoshone chief's image of hand to hand combat.
Most artists were male. But women, like the Lakota, Running Antelope, who had lost a family member in battle were allowed to decorate ceremonial dresses like this buckskin.
I love the elegant figures in Yanktonal medicine man No Heart's mock battle between Shoshone and Ute nations
and a Sun Dance held in celebration of a victory
and this image of a wounded warrior draped across his horse by Black Chicken.
This image by Rain in the Face (a Hunkpapa Lakota leader) of a dancer carrying a staff honouring his war horse was drawn in a late 19th century ledger book. I collect Plains Indian ledger book drawings on a Pinterest page. This interest is one of the things that drew me to the current exhibition.
The National Museum of the American Indian began with businessman George Heye's private collection of artifacts
like this wonderful prow ornament for a North-West Indian war canoe.
John loved the graphics on this Mapuche kultrung (macho's drum), Chile, ca. 1920.
while I favoured this Lakota Square Hand Drum from North or South Dakota, 1860-1870. Classy!
A cabinet of wonderful Hopi works.
Two Mayan ceramic vessels.
The exhibition included ancient ceramics from Central America
like this jar with centipede design, AD 800-1200 from Panama. It put me in mind of William Burrough's use of centipede imagery in his early novels.


  1. i love this blog! thanks so much for sharing the photos and comments from your visit to the American Indian Museum. I was there over the summer and enjoyed it, too ..... especially the drawings on the accounting book pages. Was that exhibit still up? .

  2. Thanks, Diane. We probably saw the same show. My interest in the ledger drawings is based on the work of Native artists at Fort Marion, Florida, in the late 19th century which relates most closely to historic Plains Indian styles. I believe the show you saw featured contemporary First Nations artists inspired by those original ledger books and styles. So I concentrated on the works on hides etc.

  3. Your blog is full of mistakes, sorry!