History and the Contemporary Urban Experience

Native artists call attention to longstanding concerns such as the representation and misrepresentation of Indians in popular culture, ongoing land disputes and the displacement of Native peoples, and the environmental repercussions of war. Drawing inspiration also from broader contemporary culture, they make reference to skateboarding, graffiti, urban architecture, and popular music.

A number of artists draw inspiration from Native historical figures. We see this in James Luna’s installation honoring a young 19th-century Luiseño man who during his studies in Rome for the priesthood compiled the first dictionary of the Luiseño language, and in Kay WalkingStick’s series about the Nez Perce chief who resisted the removal of his band to a distant reservation. Similarly, historic events related to contact and conflict with Europeans continue to affect the lives of contemporary Native peoples; this is illustrated in Nadia Myre’s Indian Act, which focuses on the legal document, first made law in 1879, that governs the lives of Canada’s First Nations peoples.

  • 9—The Emergence of a Legend
  • 10—Peacemaker
  • 11—Indian Act
  • 12—Infinite Anomaly #1
  • 13—Chief Joseph series
  • 14—La Pieta
  • 15—Mespat
  • 16—Chapel for Pablo Tac
  • Vantage Point: The Contemporary Native Art Collection

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