Native America


The indigenous peoples of North America come from many cultural groups and more than 500 tribal nations. Despite such diversity, art and religion are integral to all Native American lifeways. American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian artists create both ceremonial and utilitarian objects with prayer and as tribute to the abundance of the natural world.

Cultural revitalization in those communities today is the result of generations of individuals, families, clans, and tribal nations who have kept their traditions alive. Native cultures are flourishing throughout North America — in California, on the Bay Area peninsula with the original Muwekma Ohlone and other tribes, and among the thousand Native American alumni and students of Stanford University.

The Center's collection focuses on North America, especially California, the Southwest, and the Northwest Coast. Of particular interest are the baskets and related objects from the daily life of the Yurok, Karuk, and Hupa tribes of northern California collected by John Daggett soon after the Gold Rush. This group of objects was part of the museum's original collection and has since been both supplemented and broadened. In addition to a wide variety of baskets from the Southwest, there is a broad range of works in ceramic, mainly pottery from several Pueblo communities, and a strong representation of Navajo textile traditions. The pottery complements the collection's strong emphasis on ceramics in the Ancient Americas.

Denni Dianne Woodward, Mescalero Apache, Guest Curator for Native America



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Dance Skirt
late 19th century