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Explore Activities Related to Indians in "Main Street"

Explore Activities Related to Indians in "Main Street"

The Squaw Sachem Sells Her Land to John Winthrop
The Squaw Sachem Sells Her Land to John Winthrop (courtesy of the Town of Winchester, MA)

1. Explore Activities Related to “Main-Street”

A.) Images of American Indians

Make some observations on the portrayal of American Indians and the Indian-White relationship in these 19th century illustrations and art works. Categorize the ways Indians are presented during this period. As you view the images, it's important to remember that they present Indians through Euro-American imagination and ideology. Consider the following questions while analyzing individual illustrations or art works: What is emphasized in the work? What ideas and values are evident? What emotions does the work appeal to or communicate?

B.) The following websites provide additional American art images and articles on American art history.

C.) Artwork by American Indians of the Northeast

In the oral cultures of American Indians, artwork serves as a visual language that expresses the lives and worldviews of the people. Through signs and symbols, function and form each work speaks or tells a story rich in history and belief. Study the following images and observe on the form and design of each; consider the materials, as well. Describe what you find aesthetically pleasing or interesting. Explain how the object provides insight into the lifeways and culture, the beliefs and values of the creator. Make note of symbols or decorative motifs that you see as important or puzzling. In the 19th century, Euro-American ideas of "art" defined American Indian creations as "craft"-expressions of the primitive or naïve-not as sophisticated as the "high" art of the Western world. Do you agree? Collectively, how might these works, tell a different story, and offer an alternative view to the "official" white explanations of Indians and early American history?

D.) The following websites and links provide additional images of American Indian art and articles on American Indian traditions and artistic expression.

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