Recent Native American Books

Dance of the Aveye and the Thunderbird by Pablita Velarde, Visions & Voices. painting, southwest art
Dance of the Aveye and the Thunderbird by Pablita Velarde, Visions & Voices.

By Donna Tennant

An impressive number of books about Native Americans have been published in the past several years. They come in every size, from a pocket book on sacred symbols to a coffee-table book on the Haida peoples of the Northwest Coast. Some accompany exhibitions, such as Visions & Voices, which commemorates 50 years of Indian Annuals at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, OK. Others represent years of research. Two were published by a Zuni publishing company. There are books on baskets, textiles, jewelry, pottery and fetishes; interviews with artists; books of photographs; and beautifully illustrated children’s stories. All in all, these books lend great insight into those artists who came before and those who follow in their footsteps.

Visions & Voices: Native American Painting from the Philbrook Museum of Art

Edited by Lydia L. Wyckoff

This book (and an accompanying exhibition last year) commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Philbrook Museum of Art’s famed Indian Annual painting competition. Museum director Bernard Frazier established the Annual in 1946 “to acquaint the world with Indian painting … to document Indian life and culture through traditional ex-pression of the Indians, and to stimulate the renaissance of this unique expression by the encouragement of Indian artists.” The competition was held at the museum until 1979, and artworks were purchased each year.

Robert Davidson s gilded bronze sculpture representing Raven bringing life to humankind (pictured around the rim), Haida Art. sculpture, southwest art
Robert Davidson’s gilded bronze sculpture representing Raven bringing life to humankind (pictured around the rim), Haida Art

Wyckoff, Philbrook’s curator of Native American art, and Marla Redcorn interviewed all of the artists represented in the collection or their descendants (the tapes and transcripts are available at the mus-eum). Also included is a history of Native American painting.
1996 Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK, 304 pages, 511 illustrations, 147 in color, $70 hardbound, $37 softbound

Gifts of the Spirit: Works by 19th-Century & Contemporary Native American Artists

Curated by Dan L. Monroe, Richard Conn, Richard W. Hill Sr., Suzan Shown Harjo and John R. Grimes

The idea for this book and exhibition came with the discovery of the Native American collection at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, which had been hidden away in boxes and cabinets for decades. After the mus-eum constructed new storage areas, curators were able to evaluate the collection. Some 150 works from the 19th century to the present were selected from the more than 20,000 pieces in the collection. Four scholarly essays are followed

gifts of the spirit, southwest art.

by a fully annotated color catalogue. 1996 Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, 237 pages, 322 illustrations, 85 in color, $50 hardbound

Haida Art

By George F. MacDonald

The Haida lived in the Queen Charlotte Islands, a remote archipelago of British Columbia. Art, myth and ceremony were an integral part of their lives. This book presents reproductions of works from the Canadian Museum of Civilization, including masks, totems, weavings and various ceremonial objects. Large full-page color plates are interspersed with rare historical photographs of the people and their villages. 1996 University of Washington Press, Seattle, 258 pages, 175 illustrations, 85 in color, $60 hardbound

A Guide To Navajo Weavings

By Kent McManis and Robert Jeffries

The authors trace the development of Navajo weaving from past to present, examining how it has changed over the centuries. They also discuss how a Navajo rug is made and what to look for when purchasing one. 1997 Treasure Chest Books, Tucson, AZ, 72 pages, 52 illustrations, $9.95 softbound

weaving a world, southwest art.

Navajo Weaving Way: The Path From Fleece to Rug

By Noel Bennett and Tiana Bighorse

This is an in-depth look at traditional Navajo rugs, Navajo culture and the importance of passing the weaving tradition along. It includes photographs and quotes from women weavers. 1997 Interweave Press, Loveland, CO, 160 pages, 75 black-and-white illustrations, $19.95 softbound

Weaving a World: Textiles and the Navajo Way of Seeing

By Paul Zolbrod and Roseann Willink

“Each rug is like a day,” advises elder Raymond Jim, whose grandmother, a weaver, shared much of her knowledge with him as he grew up. “Look carefully and you can sometimes see emerging dawn where a weaver begins her work and, where she finishes, a touch of darkness.” This book, the result of four years of studying the textiles in the Laboratory of Anthropology, Santa Fe, NM, proceeds on the premise that Navajo weaving is more than a matter of skill with fibers—it’s a physical manifestation of one weaver’s world view.
1997 Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe, NM, 144 pages, 75 color illustrations, $29.95 softbound

Powwow: Images Along the Red Road

Photographs by Ben Marra

Waylon McCloud Yallup (Yakama), photo-graphed by Ben Marra,  southwest art
Waylon McCloud Yallup (Yakama), photo-graphed by Ben Marra, Powwow

Ben Marra does color photography like no one else. His photographs of Native American dancers in full costume vibrate with color and intensity. He sets up his equip-ment in an area slightly away from the danc-ing and has less than 10 minutes with each subject. Wife Linda records each subject’s personal and tribal information, and afterwardeveryone receives duplicate slides for their own use. The Marras share proceeds with their subjects. 1996 Harry N. Abrams, New York, NY, 112 pages, 105 color illustrations, $16.95 softbound

Ancient People of the American Southwest

By Stephen Plog

Visitors to Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde marvel at the 10,000-year-old ruins and spectacular cliff dwel-lings, but usually know very little about the cultures that built these prehistoric wonders. Plog presents a readable account of the predecessors of the modern Hopi and Pueblo Indian cultures.1997 Thames and Hudson, Inc., New York, NY, 224 pages, 150 illustrations, 17 in color, $27.50 hardbound A Zuni Artist Looks at Frank Hamilton Cushing Cartoons by Phil Hughte

In 1879 Cushing rode unannounced into Zuni Pueblo. Sent by the Smithsonian Institution, he stayed at Zuni for five years and became the world’s first live-in anthropologist. Hughte’s drawings tell the story of the Cushing sojourn from the Zuni perspective with “generally gentle, if satiric, re-envisioning….” Hughte passed away on April 28 at the age of 42.
1996 Zuni A:shiwi Publishing, Pueblo of Zuni, 125 pages, 43 drawings, 7 halftones, $24.95 softbound

Zuni: A Village of Silversmiths

By James Ostler, Marian Rodee and Milford Nahohai

The authors examine Zuni silversmithing and the relationships between jewelers and traders. After tracing the history, they use examples by some 20 contemporary Zuni artists to explain the various techniques. 1996 Zuni A:shiwi Publishing and Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, 143 pages, 228 illustrations, 211 in color, $45 hardbound, $29.95 softbound

A Guide To Zuni Fetishes & Carvings

By Kent McManis

A fetish is a Native American carving of an animal thought to have great power when ceremonially blessed by a priest or shaman. The most renowned fetish carvers are the Zuni, who believe that animals are more like the deities than human beings. Dozens of fetishes are illustrated in color, along with the names of their creators. Beware, however, of fake fetishes from abroad, which are usually carved from colored block plastic. 1995 Treasure Chest Books, Tucson, AZ, 48 pages, 59 color illustrations, $7.95 softbound

Fourteen Families in Pueblo Pottery

By Rick Dillingham

Originally published as Seven Families in Pueblo Pottery to accompany an exhibition at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico in 1974, this book was expanded and republished in 1994 with seven families added. 1994 University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, reprinted 1997, 304 pages, 453 illustrations, 268 in color, $39.95 softbound

dialougs with zuni potters, southwest art

Dialogs With Zuni Potters

By Milford Nahohai andElisa Phelps

Milford Nahohai is a Zuni who was hired in 1984 to help start the Pueblo of Zuni Arts and Crafts Board. Her job was to market Zuni pottery through galleries, museum exhibitions and catalogs, resulting in increased demand for and revitalization of Zuni pottery. Photographs of Zuni pottery and interviews with 14 potters are included.1995 Zuni A:shiwi Publishing, Pueblo of Zuni, 100 pages, 119 illustrations, 69 in color, $45 hardbound, $19.95 softbound

Southwestern Pottery: Anasazi to Zuni

By Allan Hayes and John Blom

This is an entertaining and useful account of how the authors collected more than 1,400 pieces of Native American pottery between 1992 and 1995. Several hundred potters are represented.1996 Northland Publishing, Flagstaff, AZ, 192 pages, 130 color illustrations, $40 hardbound, $21.95 softbound

Pueblo Indian Painting: Tradition and Modernism in New Mexico, 1900-1930

By J.J. Brody

Art historian Brody presents a history of Pueblo painting in the first three decades of the 20th century based on works in the collection of the School of American Research, Santa Fe, NM. He focuses on seven key artists: Fred Kabotie and Otis Polelonema of Hopi, Velino Shije Herrera of Zia and Crescendio Martinez, Tonita Peña, Alfonso Roybal and Abel Sanchez of San Ildefonso pueblos. 1997 School of American Research, Santa Fe, NM, 225 pages, 149 illustrations, 99 in color, $30 softbound

Bella Bella: A Season of Heiltsuk Art

By Martha Black

Seven original Heiltsuk-speaking tribes inhabited the islands, inlets, lakes, mainland and outer coast of British Columbia. The Heiltsuk were widely respected for their skills as craftspersons, artists, navigators and traders. This book focuses on a collection of native art and artifacts acquired by the Reverend Dr. Richard Whitfield Large at the community of Bella Bella between 1899 and 1906. It is now part of the Royal Ontario Museum collection.
1997 University of Washington Press, Seattle, 224 pages, 179 illustrations, 27 in color, $40 softbound

The Rock Art of Texas Indians

Paintings by Forrest Kirkland
Text by W.W. Newcomb Jr.

This book is a re-production of the first edition, long out-of-print, which was published in 1967. The rock art of Texas is not well-known, nor are the total number of petroglyphs and pictograph sites. This book, however, conveys the richness and diversity of rock art from Central and West Texas and gives it cultural context. 1996 University of Texas Press, Austin, 253 pages, 160 illustrations, 32 in color, $70 hardbound, $34.95 softbound

To Touch the Past: The Painted Pottery of theMimbres People

By J.J. Brody and Rina Swentzell

The Native American people referred to as Mimbres flourished in southern New Mexico some 1,000 years ago. They are remembered for their elegant, stylized images painted inside shallow bowls that were eventually buried with their owners after being smashed or punctured.

This book (and an exhibition last year) documents the best of 800 objects in the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, which owns one of the two largest collections of Mimbres pottery. 1996 Hudson Hills Press, New York, NY, 119 pages, 163 illustrations, 124 in color, $29.95 softbound

The Maya Textile Tradition

Photographs by Jeffrey Jay Foxx
Edited by Margot Blum Schevill

For the Maya, the turning of the weaver’s spindle provided a metaphor for the motion of the stars begun by the gods. The central role of weaving to the world view and economic life of the Maya has not changed in the 500 years since the invasion of the Europeans. Weaving serves as an instrument of ethnic identity and a major source of income for the Maya communities. Four leading Maya scholars each wrote a chapter. 1997 Harry N. Abrams, New York, NY, 232 pages, 175 illustrations, 145 in color, $49.50 hardbound

pueblo stories and story tellers, southwest art.

Pueblo Stories & Storytellers

By Mark Bahti

The first true storyteller figure was made by Helen Cordero of Cochiti Pueblo in 1964. She was inspired by her remarkable grandfather Santiago Quintana, a Coch-iti elder. Chapters are organized by pueblo and illustrated by numerous photographs of storytellers. 1996 Treasure Chest Books, Tucson, AZ, 56 pages, 39 color illustrations, $12.95 softbound

Native AmericansSacred Symbols

This is a little book of symbols such as a medicine pipe, thunderbird, kachina and soul catcher, and concepts such as vision quest, mother earth and father sky. 1996 Thames and Hudson, New York, NY, 80 pages, 77 illustrations, 67 in color, $10 hardbound.

Featured in August 1997