They Took The Whole Indian Nation …

The Cleveland Museum of Art had an exhibit of Native American and Canadian art and artifacts that winds up this weekend. We’d been planning to go but hadn’t managed it until today.

Every time I see one of these programs, where things that were made by hand have survived any period of time, I’m so impressed. We live in a culture where everything seems to be designed to fail and fall apart in a relatively short period of time, and yet, in this show, there were things which were dated back to the late 16th century, although most were 18th and 19th century items.

There was one buffalo robe which had been illustrated with scenes from a battle between the Lakota and the Crow. Talk about the universality of ideas — the horses that had been drawn could have come from the Bayeaux Tapestry.

It was also interesting that some tribes were influenced by their European contacts. One tribe in Quebec (the Waitan) had some gorgeous needlework on a pair of moccasins, and the notes said that this artform was influenced by the French Canadian nuns who taught the native children.

It was worth going to see and I’m sorry I couldn’t have recommended it sooner.


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