Navajo Baskets and the American Indian Voice: Searching for the Contemporary Native American in the Trading Post, the Natural History Museum, and the Fine Art Museum Navajo Baskets and the American Indian Voice: Searching for the Contemporary Native American in the Trading Post, the Natural History Museum, and the Fine Art Museum
Chapter one discusses the basketâ€™s connotation as one of continuity and change, a meaning essential to understanding the contemporary Navajo. It becomes clear that when looking for the meaning of tradition and adaptation, the institutional utterance of an exhibition venue must be one that allows a complex modern Navajo identity to emerge.
Chapter two examines the institutional utterance of the trading post. In such a setting, meanings of a mythical past emerge from the basket. The environment of the trading post reveals a romantic view of the Old West that hides the meaning of the contemporary Navajo from patrons and viewers.
Chapter three focuses on the natural history museum and the effects of its institutional utterance on the Navajo basketâ€™s significance. In this learning environment, the Navajo basket acts as an artifact and meanings emerge about Navajo ritual and history. However, natural history museums often educate audiences through means like curiosity cabinets and living history displays that distance the contemporary Navajo.
It is the fine art museum that has the most potential to reveal the adaptive, contemporary Navajo, discussed in chapter four. Art museums validate baskets as art objects when they exhibit them with Western painting and sculpture. Such displays can hide the contemporary Navajo in a discussion of formal elements. However, when an art museum exhibits a basket as a meaningful object, it allows the basket to reveal the DinÃ©â€™s desire for cultural continuity and the long Navajo history of adapting to changing environments.
School:Brigham Young University
School Location:USA - Utah
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:american indian native navajo basketry trading post natural history museum fine art display
Date of Publication:04/25/2007