Past & Present

Native American Art

In Past & Present: Native American Art, learn more about the continuing traditions of Native American art and artists as seen in historic and contemporary objects. Explore identity, family, and community through this collection of museum objects and the stories they tell.

Use this page to learn more about the art objects and find resources for teaching and learning.

Lesson Ideas

Parfleche made by a Northern Plains artist
Lesson Spark

Parfleche Inspired Activity

The artist Melanie Yazzie was inspired by the intricate and unique designs that are significant to the owner as well as the parfleche’s function for holding important items.

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Moccasin made using porcupine quills from an unknown maker in the Crow Tribe
Lesson Spark

Moccasin Inspired Activity

A pair of moccasins sparked a connection for Artist Melanie Yazzie to consider the role and importance of having empathy for others, or “walking a mile in someone’s moccasins.”

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Detail of Navajo weaver figure at loom
Lesson Spark

Weaver inspired Activity

Find inspiration for class artmaking related to the Weaver with Loom figure. Watch Melanie Yazzie discuss her inspiration, too.

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American Indian Art History Detectives
Lesson Plan

American Indian Art History Detectives

Elementary (grades K-5)
One 50 minute lesson

Parfleche boxes were an essential storage container for the nomadic American Indians of the Great Plains that followed the herds of bison that once occupied large sections of the United States.

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Family Stories
Lesson Plan

Family Stories

Early childhood (ages 3-5)
One 25 minute lesson

This lesson focuses on Roxanne Swentzell’s sculpture Mud Woman Rolls On to evoke thoughts about families and their stories. Students create their own picture story about family.

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Storyteller Figure Inspired Activity
Lesson Spark

Storyteller Figure Inspired Activity

Artist Melanie Yazzie was inspired by the celebration and unity that story telling provides.

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