We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are the Different Types of Native American Art?

By C. K. Lanz
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Musical Expert is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Musical Expert, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Native American art is as varied in medium and style as the tribes that produce it. There are more than 330 federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States and each has its own unique artistic culture. Many tribes are known for basketry while others are exceptional weavers, beaders, potters, jewelry makers or carvers. A tribe’s traditional colors, patterns and symbols help distinguish its work from that of other Native American nations.

Basketry is a Native American art that also has a practical purpose. One of the oldest Native American arts, basketry is practiced by a majority of tribes that weave with whatever material is native to the land. The Cherokee and other southeastern tribes weave with split river cane, tribes from the Great Lakes region use sweet grass or black ash, and Native Americans from California perfected the coil basket made with willow, sumac or basket rush. Patterns and symbols unique to each tribe can be woven into the baskets as decoration and materials are commonly dyed for a colorful effect.

Carvings of animals, masks and important tribal symbols are a common Native American art. The Inuit of Alaska can carve detailed works in soapstone such as a polar bear or seal. A hand carved Formica could be associated with the Hopewell tradition. The recognizable totem poles are large sculptures normally carved from cedar trees by tribes of the Pacific Northwest and serve to narrate important events or represent a tribe’s powers. Additionally, mask carving is a tradition of many tribes including the Cherokee, which make booger and effigy masks from gourds or copper. Masks are important elements in dances and other ceremonies.

Some tribes have a storied tradition of textile or fabric art. Navajo women weave rugs from wool with designs that can be abstract and that may reflect Persian and Spanish influences. Some Navajo weavers such as Clara Sherman have received national acclaim. Some prairie tribes practice a sophisticated applique technique with ribbon used to decorate ceremonial clothing. Ribbon, some with shapes cut out, is layered and secured with thread to create a multicolored design. Colorful shawls are also made using ribbon work.

The Native American pottery tradition dates back to well before the arrival of Europeans. Pottery is traditionally made by hand and fired in a shallow pit covered with brush. Pottery can be simple and practical or decorative and elaborate. Human and animal effigy pots are common works in Native American art. Ollas, large unglazed and round pots with wide openings, are still produced for sale to collectors by Southwest tribes.

Basically, there are numerous forms of Native America art just as diverse as the many different cultures the art represents.

Musical Expert is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By irontoenail — On May 22, 2011

My mother collected a couple of Native American art works while she was traveling in the United States, and lived for a while in El Paso. Her favorite ones are made with sand.

I understand that sand painting is considered quite sacred by the tribes that perform it, but I'm not sure if that extends to paintings that are permanently put on canvas or board. They are very striking pieces, but I'm not completely convinced they were really made by a Native American artist, in a traditional way.

By KoiwiGal — On May 19, 2011

Ollas can be used for practical purposes in hot weather. If you buy a plain one with a wide throat that has not been glazed, you can use it for water storage in hot weather.

Scrub out the pot thoroughly then rinse it. Then, you can put water in and leave the pot where it will be exposed to hot air, although it doesn't need to be directly in the sun. After a while the pot will sweat out a bit of water, cooling the rest inside. It can taste as cold as river water, and is very refreshing on a hot day.

You do have to remember to keep the inside clean, as it can eventually grow bacteria if you use it over and over without washing it.

Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.