Northwest Native American Art

The Northwest area of the United States consists of about 2,000 miles, which goes from Alaska to the Northern part of the state of California. This area of the nation is rich with Native American history and culture. The Northwest Native American art that came out of this region of the country is beautiful and gives real insight into the lifestyle of the many tribes that inhabited it. Wood carvings and sculptures, baskets, blankets, masks used for ceremonies, and totem poles were common forms of artwork. Many Native Americans in this region were known as Inuit (often called Eskimos), and the art they created was typically made of ivory, bones, stone, and fur. Leather and feathers also played a very essential role in creating decorative accents to the artwork.

While Native Americans residing in the Southern part of the country typically used wood for their art, those in the Northwest often preferred stone and bones to create small sculptures. Totem poles were very common, and usually surrounded an entire camp in various places including serving as roof supports. Animals were a very popular symbol used in Northwest Native American art. The raven was a spirit of creation and knowledge, while the bear (one of the most common symbols) represented strength, teaching, and creativity. These animals were often carved into small figurines, used in totem poles, and made in the form of toys for children.

Different tools were used to create the different forms of artwork, and one of the most typical was a piece of stone, sharpened into a point. These stones allowed the Native Americans to carve wood and ivory into shapes, and give them more detail. String made of deer tendon was good for weaving and tying things together. There are still people who create Northwest Native American art today. The beauty and splendor of this rich heritage lives on in its expression and wonder for all to experience and enjoy.

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