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Places to Experience Native American Artwork

These destinations' artwork showcases the heritage of America’s first people.


Nikole Christensen
Published April 01, 2014

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art


The extensive collections at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art strive to preserve the history and culture of Native American people as well as the Western way of life. The artifacts in the Native American collection include those from all parts of North America and range from traditional textiles, baskets and weapons to contemporary carvings, jewelry and sculpture.

Native people of Indiana, like the Miami, Potawatomi and Delaware, are also represented in more in-depth exhibitions. In addition to a museum store that carries jewelry, pottery, paintings, sculpture and posters by Native American artists, the Eiteljorg hosts artists-in-residence events and art markets throughout the year.

“I hope that any surprise visitors may have at encountering such a vast collection of Native American art and cultural objects at the Eiteljorg makes them that much more interested in learning about Native people, culture and art,” said Ashley Holland, the museum’s assistant curator of contemporary art.

“In addition to our exhibits and museum store, visitors wanting to see and purchase incredible Native art should attend the museum’s annual Indian Market and Festival. The museum plays host to around 150 Native artists from dozens of different tribal groups over the two-day event. Artwork ranges from traditional pottery and weavings to contemporary jewelry and paintings. In addition to the art, the Indian Market and Festival also includes Native performers and cultural programs.”


Red Cloud Indian Art Show

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota

The Red Cloud Indian Art Show was founded in 1969 to demonstrate the talent of local Native American artists and to introduce them to the art world. The show is held at the Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and despite the fact that it is not near any urban centers, the show continues to draw thousands of visitors each year. It is held each summer over 10 weeks and showcases works by more than 50 artists with 175 submissions in a variety of categories such as photography, beadwork, quillwork and painting.

“The show started as a way to show the community and the kids art from the northern Plains artists,” said Mary Bordeaux, curator and interim director. “At the time, the contemporary Native American art scene was really focused in the Southwest, and organizers thought it would be good for local artists to have a place to exhibit closer to home.”

The art show grew so much through the years that eventually, a collection was formed, and a permanent physical space was needed to show it all. The Heritage Center has contemporary art from Native artists of all descents and the only collection of historical Lakota artwork on display on a reservation.

“Art is a part of our everyday life in our community,” said Bordeaux. “We try to teach the kids that it doesn’t necessarily mean a painting on the wall. A lot of times, people here don’t even think of themselves as artists, but they make bows or fully beaded moccasins that are works of art.

“We also have a lot of families that still dance traditional dances and need to make their regalia, so they are working with featherwork, quillwork, making clothing. All these beautiful pieces are considered works of art, even though they have a function in our life,” Bordeaux said.


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