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Library Exhibits at the Lucille Caudill Little Fine Arts Library: Native Art and Thanksgiving

Native Colonialism

Historically, native people in the Americas were thriving before European settlers came to colonize the land. They had strong cultural roots, language, technology, their own art, and ways of living that had worked for hundreds of years for them. The advent of Columbus has been celebrated as the birth of our modern nation, and while with that has come some incredibly great things, it’s important that we also recognize what we have taken and what was sacrificed so that we are able to live on this land, too. The colonization of America lead to the destruction of a history of language, art, and culture that we will never be able to get back; we can, however, reconstruct some of it thanks to the surviving descendents. This seeks to explore both past and current Native art and culture from the perspective of trying to understand the destruction of said culture and how it is being revived today.

- Blake Johnson and Sofia Villalobos, UK Libraries Undergraduate Diversity Program Interns, 2018-2019

Native art now! : developments in contemporary Native American art since 1992

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, 2017


Fine Arts Library Oversize N6538.A4 E39 2017



Much of the modern Native art is political in theme due to the Native need to fight back against a government that seeks to subjugate them to a lower social standing simply due to their ethnicity.

Wearing our identity : the First Peoples collection

Musée McCord d'histoire canadienne, 2013


Fine Arts Library Book Stacks E98.C8 M87 2013


Many Native fashion choices stemmed from using the nature around them, and the creatures around them. Every single part of an animal that was killed was used for something, whether that be art, nutrition, fashion, or shelter.

Legacy: Southwest Indian Art At The School Of American Research
Santa Fe, N.M. : School of American Research Press, 1999


Fine Arts Library   Book Stacks E78.S7 L44 1999


Most everything they made, including their art, was functional. Blankets and rugs were intricately woven to be both beautiful and useful so that they could make use of everything they had.


The traditional story of Thanksgiving goes such that when the Pilgrims arrived on American land, they struggled to survive until the Natives taught them how to farm and hunt to stay alive, and when they got their crops, they came together with the Natives to thank them for helping them and to celebrate life and their love of God. This is quite the idealized version of what actually happened. It’s debated whether or not this Thanksgiving actually occurred, and assuming it did, it erases all the wrong that the colonists brought with them and inflicted upon the Natives. Rape, pillaging of villages, and transfer of diseases all contributed to a mass genocide among the people who lived on the land before the colonists arrived. A celebration of Thanksgiving that does not recognize this is a celebration of Thanksgiving that contributes to hundreds of years of oppression.

-- Blake Johnson and Sofia Villalobos