Peacemaker, 2004. Douglas Miles (San Carlos Apache/Akimel O’odham), b. 1963. Acrylic on wood (skateboard deck). Museum purchase, 2007 (26/5954).

The imagery Miles paints on his skateboard decks—the first of which he created for his son—often raises troubling questions about the challenges and sometimes limited options faced by youth on the San Carlos Apache reservation. Skateboarding has become a highly popular sport there and in Native communities across North America, providing an alternative to gangs and drugs and encouraging athleticism, creativity, and discipline.

Douglas Miles (San Carlos Apache/Akimel O’odham, b. 1963) connects mainstream skateboard culture and contemporary Native life by depicting Apache warriors and the youth of the San Carlos Apache reservation on skateboard decks. First made for his son’s use, Miles’ Apache skateboards assert a Native presence in the skating community and have been exhibited widely in galleries and museums, including the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianapolis; the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe; the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts; and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.

Vantage Point: The Contemporary Native Art Collection

The National Museum of the American Indian
NMAI on the National Mall | Washington, DC