In 1934 the Treasury Department commissioned murals for post offices. The Smithsonian researched 400 that depict American Indians. View a selection by Native artists faithfully portraying Native ways of life unique to place and particular people.Less
In The Arrival Celebration, American Indian people are shown going about their daily lives, preparing food, communing with one another, roping cattle, traveling by cart and horseback, and gathering wood. The name could refer to a group arriving at a seasonal encampment. Tipis signals this as a winter encampment of the Shoshone and Bannock. The mural is unusual in depicting American Indian peoples who have integrated modern and European-American influences into their lives. -Blackfoot, ID
The artists known as the “Kiowa Five” adhered to traditional motifs, using their limited early training to pioneer the “Flat style," named for its lack of depth, which held the historical integrity of hide and tipi paintings used to record tribal events. This became the most recognizable and defined style of Native American artists until the 1960s. The Eagle Dance occurred when praying, as a way to carry prayers to Creator, but also as a way to ask for blessings for an event. -Anadarko, OK
This mural shows the preparation of Pashofa. The thick and soupy mixture of meat and corn can be served as a drink or eaten. The Chickasaw were a matrilineal society, females having leadership roles and passing down traditional lifeways. Men were expected to supply meat; women to cultivate, prepare, and cook the corn; maintain fires; and gather wood. They made all the cooking utensils, such as the clay pots and the three types of baskets used for sifting and cleaning ground corn. -Marietta, OK
One of the finest examples of a mural by an American Indian artist is Walter “Dick” West’s Grand Council of 1842. It depicts the “Five Civilized Tribes;” displaced Southeastern tribes and Plains tribes, including the Kiowa and Cheyenne. Representatives from 17 tribes were present, along with Gen. Zachary Taylor. Dick West is credited with historical accuracy in the depiction of dress and architecture. He studied materials at the Smithsonian, including a painting of the council. - Okemah, OK
Displayed in Seminole, OK, Blue Eagle’s depiction of the Seminole Indians is set in the tropical landscape of Florida, connecting the Oklahoma Seminole Nation with its historic roots. It's important that he linked those who were forcefully removed to Oklahoma with their cultural past, and to those who remained in Florida after their relocation. The inclusion of the making of traditional food is meaningful, in that the cultural lifeways of the Seminole continued despite many cultural upheavals.
“When the earth has had enough to drink, you must race across the heavens carrying the rainbow in your mane and tail, and spread it over the sky so that departed souls may cross upon it into the next world...All souls will travel across the rainbow trail.” The legend of The Rainbow Horse, a story oft recounted by Potawatomie artist, performer, and dancer Woody Crumbo, inspired this 1943 painting. Work was slowed as Crumbo chose to aid the war effort, working at an aircraft company. -Nowata, OK
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