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American Indian art goes back to the earliest days of tribal cultures. While there are many tribal groups, it has been found that most all pieces of artwork produced by American Indians have similar aesthetics and characteristics. It should be noted that prior to the 19th century, any artwork produced by American Indians was noted for its functional value alone. After this time period, American Indian artwork was primarily considered for its artistic elements. In terms of the forms of art from Indians from America that exist, there are many. These include rugs, jewelery, other woven textiles, sculptures, statues, baskets, masks, dolls, drawings, paintings, and much more. Contemporary American Indian works of art also include photographs and multi-media pieces. American Indian artwork can be found at museums, galleries, and collections that are private. One of the defining characteristics of this Indian art across the ages remains the artists' use of objects sourced from the world of nature to create their work. Plants provide the material needed to create dyes for coloring rugs and weavings. Baskets are shaped out of reeds as well as other grasses. Feathers and quills are parts of different elaborate outfits decorated by American Indians. Where the significance of artwork created by such Indians is concerned, such art has always had a useful function attached to it. Nonetheless, in modern day society, most pieces of this Indian art serve more of an aesthetic function, where they are hung in homes for people to display and to admire. Most pieces of artwork produced by Indians from America have a spiritual meaning behind them. To illustrate this, eagle feathers on certain outfits are meant to portray the authority that a person has as a member of a tribe. Furthermore, in certain tribes, turquoise and silver are meant to reflect the person wearing them's spiritual ties to their native lands. It should be noted that the United States has passed an Indian Arts and Crafts Act in the early 90's. This prohibits the selling of arts and crafts labeled as being made by Indians from North America if they were not actually created by North American Indians. Under this law, an Indian must be a registered member of either a federal or state tribe in order to be able to sell works of Native American art. In terms of purchasing art created by such Indians, they could actually be bought directly from an Indian reservation. The Indian Arts and Crafts Board will provide a listing of Indian artists who are


registered to sell artwork in each state within America. Some of these artists have stores, catalogs, and/or websites from which purchases can be made. Buying from a reservation ensures that the artwork is authentic. In conclusion, American Indian art is beautiful and typically has a spiritual meaning behind it. At one point in time it solely served a useful function, though today it mostly is displayed for aesthetic reasons. Many different forms of Indian art exist, and different natural elements such as plant dyes are used in the pieces of artwork. Only American Indians registered to sell their artwork are certified by law as the sellers of genuine Native American Art. It is best to purchase American Indian artwork through a reservation.

Al Smitty is a writer who loves to discuss many topics ranging from contemporary indian art to American football. Thanks for reading!

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