For millennia, Indigenous people shaped the Americas from the Arctic to the southern tip of South America. Before the arrival of European colonizers in 1492, every part of the present-day United States was governed by Native American nations. Across the continent, a wide range of cultures flourished with hundreds of languages and distinct forms of artistic expression. Despite centuries of epidemics, forced removal from homelands, and cultural, religious, and political repression by the United States government, Native artists have endured.
The examples on display in Enduring Spirit provide an introduction to creative expressions by ancient, historic, and contemporary Native artists. Organized by geographic region, this exhibition presents a diversity of forms, techniques, and materials. These objects were intended for a variety of functions: utilitarian and domestic, sacred and ceremonial, political and commercial. With brilliant designs and impeccable craftsmanship, these works show the aesthetic mastery of individual Native artists, and all can be viewed as powerful works of art. Today, Native American artists continue to innovate, recalling the past and finding new sources of inspiration in contemporary culture.