Thousands of years before America was “discovered,” Native Americans were creating objects for everyday use that would one day be considered art. Perhaps the earliest of these were arrowheads, baskets, and pottery. Such items were originally intended for use in hunting and storage, respectively, but today they are collected for their fine craftsmanship and beauty.

Some tribes have become renowned for specific types of items. The Navajo, for example, learned wool weaving from the Pueblo peoples in the late 17th century and began making fine blankets and, starting in the late 19th century, rugs. The Hopi, on the other hand, made intricate katsina dolls (also known as kachina dolls) to represent the katsina spirits responsible for bringing rainfall. While katsina dolls were intended in part as educational tools for children, they have become highly coveted outside of the Hopi community.

Even as Native American artwork and craftsmanship have been affected strongly by European conventions and materials in more recent centuries, their own styles and aesthetics have exerted their own influence among Natives and non-Natives alike.


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