Dane G. Hansen Museum

Logan, KS




Dineh "The People" / Life and Culture of the Navajo


The Navajo call themselves the Dineh, or the people. They are extraordinary survivors, a proud and indomitable group who have rebounded from every misfortune that fate has thrown them. As the largest Native American group, they have been remarkably successful in retaining their ancestral identity and culture. This exhibit consists of eighty pieces including textiles, paintings, photographs jewelry, and other artifacts. It will be on display through December 3, 2000. (left: Francis Luis Mora (1874-1940), Navajo Family, oil on canvas)

Having resisted the Spanish and their Native American allies for nearly three centuries, the much shorter war with the United States resulted in a devastating defeat. Forced into submission mainly through starvation and interned in an alien landscape at Bosque Redondo, they were finally allowed to return to a homeland laid waste by the US Army. Constantly hampered by the US Government's failure to honor treaties, the Navajo's renaissance in little more than a century is a remarkable example of character and pride overcoming adversity.

When considering Navajo art, one immediately thinks of their magnificent textiles and jewelry, which have become highly prized throughout the United States end other parts of the world. Art as an aesthetic is something relatively new to Navajo culture. To the Navajo, everything has a use. Their early textile were items to be worn. Now their rugs adorn the walls of homes and museums. The creative influence of Navajo jewelry can be seen in the store displays of jewelers in New York, Paris, and London. Painting is not a widespread art form, in Navajo society, but their major artists contribute to an accurate depiction of the Navajo lifestyle. Pottery and basketry have never been highly developed either for common use or art. The Navajo historically traded their silver work and textiles for baskets and pottery with the neighboring Pueblo tribes. This tradition continues today, although objects used in ceremonies are usually made within the reservation. (left: Turquoise Nugget Necklace and Bracelet with Mercury Dimes)

The objects in the exhibition are from the collection of the Harmen Museum of Art in Golden, Colorado. The exhibition was organized and nationally toured by Smith Kramer Fine Art Services of Kansas City, MO in cooperation with the Colorado Historical Society.

Read more about the Dane G. Hansen Museum in Resource Library Magazine

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For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/27/11

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