First Nations Art & Tools in NYC

The 1st day of this trip to NYC (am now home), I went to the Museum of Natural History. I’d seen the exhibit of the First Nations peoples of British Columbia years before and now wanted to see it again after spending years up in BC working on Builders of the Pacific Coast and marvelling at this rich and still-alive native art.

There is an entire large room full of totems, shields, baskets, clothing, jewelry, and a myriad of items made from cedar trees. It’s a stunning exhibit (and once again I apologize for being “stunned and amazed,” as my friend Jack Fulton says, but I just am, often).The star of the show is this enormous canoe. I couldn’t find any measurements, but I’d guess it to be 60′ long and at least 12′ wide — all made from a hollowed-out single tree. It’s thought to have been a Heiltsuk raiding canoe (see the Edward Curtis film, “Land of the War Canoes,” I posted earlier). Here are some other photos of this powerful art. (See Builders of the Pacific Coast, pp. 110-12, for the building, art and construction techniques of the First Nations peoples.)

2 Responses to First Nations Art & Tools in NYC

  1. You're right, native art is still alive and well on the British Columbia coast. How wonderful that there's a display in New York.
    My particular favorite has always been the art of the Haida people, from the Queen Charlotte Islands, now called Haida Gwai.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What is a culture of peoples doing in the Museum of Natural History?

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