Denver Art Museum (DAM): American Indian Art The recently remodeled American Indian art gallery at the Denver Art Museum places a new focus on the artists, their creations and their inspirations. Recognized as one of the best Native American artwork collections in the nation, DAM’s collection includes 18,000 art objects from all cultures and tribes across both the U.S. and Canada. Many of the pieces are being shown at the museum for the first time.
The collection spans 2,000 years of artistic creativity, from prehistoric times to present, and encompasses diverse artistic traditions such as Pueblo ceramics, Navajo textiles, Northwest Coast sculpture, basketry, Plains beadwork and oil paintings. There are feathered headdresses, 300 year old hand-painted deerskin shirts, beaded moccasins, ceremonial dresses with bells, horse blankets, totem poles, masks, cradleboards, shawls, and Hopi dolls.
Interactive opportunities allow visitors to watch videos of the artists at work and hear interviews from experts explaining and interpreting the art objects. www.denverartmuseum.org
Denver Botanic Gardens: Native Roots | Modern Form: Plants, Peoples and the Art of Allan Houser On view May 1-Nov. 13, 2011, this outdoor show on the Denver Botanic Garden grounds features more than 20 bronze works created by American modernist Allan Houser (Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache, 1914–1994). Houser is considered one of the most important American artists of the 20th Century and his pioneering work opened the doors for many other Native American artists.
Set among the 33,000 plants and flowers in the Gardens, Native Roots | Modern Form celebrates Native American creativity, as well as traditional uses for plants indigenous to the Rocky Mountains and the Southwest. www.botanicgardens.org
37th Annual Denver March Powwow – March 18-20, 2011 The Denver March Powwow is one of the largest events of its kind in the country. More than 1,600 dancers from 100 tribes gather in Denver, representing 38 states and three Canadian provinces. They come for three-days of singing, dancing, storytelling, food and art.
More than 170 booths sell a variety of Native American art works and products, including jewelry, blankets, pottery and beadwork from skilled Indian craftsman. Visitors can sample Native American foods such as fry bread and Indian tacos or buy an authentic Cheyenne arrow or a Sioux tomahawk. A featured activity, “Everyone Dance,” is a free form dance competition with hundreds of colorful dancers dancing to the beat of 60 drummers. A swirl of colors, many of the women have hundreds of bells sewn into their dresses, setting off a pleasant chime, while dozens of men fill the room with ancient chants. www.denvermarchpowwow.org
More Native American Experiences in Denver
Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave - Old West icon Buffalo Bill Cody is buried 30 minutes west of Denver on top of Lookout Mountain. The museum that bears his name takes visitors through Bill’s dynamic life – including his fascinating relationship with American Indians. Originally a scout during the Indian wars, he later became an advocate for American Indians and was well known for treating them with equality and respect during his years touring with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. The museum has many exhibits of Native American craftsmanship, include bow and arrows that were presented to Bill by his friend, Chief Sitting Bull. www.buffalobill.org
Denver Museum of Nature & Science - As visitors travel through the various regions in the eye-opening North American Indian Cultures exhibit hall at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, they’ll explore authentic reconstructed dwellings, including an Eskimo snow house, a Northwest Coast clan house, a Navajo hogan and a Cheyenne tipi. www.dmns.org
Native American Trading Company - For more than 25 years, the Native American Trading Company has offered high quality affordable and authentic handmade Indian art, including antique weavings, pottery, baskets, jewelry, artifacts and photographs. Every piece is individually selected by owners, Jack Lima and Robin Lima Riddel, who frequently make trips to reservations, pueblos, and the homes of the artists in search of the finest pieces. www.nativeamericantradingco.com
Manitou Cliff Dwellings Museum - The Manitou Cliff Dwellings Museum, located at the foot of Pikes Peak (an hour south of Denver), is a rare treasure, allowing visitors to explore the remarkably preserved ruins of a long-gone civilization. “There are no ‘Do Not Touch’ signs,” the Museum’s website proudly proclaims. Visitors are free to touch and even go inside these architectural remnants of an American Indian culture that roamed the Four Corners area of the Southwest from 1200 B.C. to A.D. 1300. www.cliffdwellingsmuseum.com
Tesoro Indian Market and Powwow at The Fort – This annual event (2011 dates: May 14-15) is highlighted by award-winning Native American artists who show their wares and demonstrate their crafts. A contest Powwow fills the valley below the historic Fort Restaurant, when dancers and drummers share their heritage in competitions of Traditional, Shawl, Fancy, Grass and Jingle dancing. The Fort is a replica of Bent’s Old Fort, which served as an Indian trading post on the Santa Fe Trail. Made from genuine adobe bricks, The Fort specializes in foods of the Old West including buffalo, elk, quail, and even rattlesnake. www.tesorofoundation.org, www.thefort.com
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