A Song to the Creator
Traditional Arts of Native American Women of the Plateau
Among Native American Plateau people, women are important culture bearers. Women are responsible for passing spiritual values from one generation to the next by many means, including manual art forms, stories, and songs. In this book, edited by Lillian A. Ackerman, chapters are devoted to the traditional Plateau arts of storytelling, basket weaving, hide working, embroidery, and music.
The Plateau culture area lies between the Rocky Mountains on the east and the Cascade Mountains on the west and includes parts of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia. Among the Native American peoples there, the women's economic role of food gathering was traditionally considered so important that their status was equal to that of men. A woman's most important role, that of teacher and tradition bearer, was attained as a result of life experience for which she was honored as an elder.
While young women gathered and prepared food, bore children, and managed the family's resources, they also developed their individual artistic skills. As they grew older and became grandmothers, they were responsible for teaching their grandchildren traditional values and beliefs through stories and songs and helping them, in turn, to learn artistic techniques. Present-day Plateau women continue to be tradition bearers within the arts, sometimes also incorporating contemporary elements into their work.
Chapters in the book explore each of the Plateau arts by means of Native American legends and poems, articles by various scholars, and interviews with Native American women artists.
Thirty-two color and fifty-eight black-and-white illustrations demonstrate the range of geometric andrepresentational designs on exquisite coiled baskets and basketry hats; cornhusk and twined grass bags; beaded and porcupine-quill clothing; beaded cradleboards; and tanned, fringed, and beaded shoes, leggings, dresses, and shirts. Opening and concluding chapters on storytelling and music
174 pp ~ 32 color photos ~ 54 b/w photos — ©1996