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Native American Arts

All Native American groups produce traditional works of art, many of which are visual representations of their culture. Native American arts can be found among tribes from the southern tip of South America, all the way north to the Inuit tribes of the Arctic. Native American ArtsNative American arts date back to the lithic stage, between 18,000 and 8,000 BCE. These works were carved in mammoth bones and rocks. The oldest known painting is of on Bison skull, found in Oklahoma and dated to between 10,900 and 10,200 BCE.

One of the most dramatic and well-known examples of Native American arts are totem poles. While many associate totem poles with Native Americans in general, their construction is limited to the Haida, Tsimishain, Tlingit, and Heiltsuk tribes of the Pacific Northwest, modern-day Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington state. Totem poles frequently tell a story, read from bottom to top, often telling a family history. The largest collection of totem poles is in on display in Vancouver.

Other Native American tribes are associated with their arts. The Sioux, for example, are known for their intricate beaded clothing. Other tribes, such as the Pomo, are recognized for their woven baskets. The Aztec decorated their capital, Teotihuacan, with elaborate pyramids, many of which contained murals and sculptures. Art is indeed an expression of the human condition, and Native American tribes are no different in their need to express their culture through the arts.

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