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Northwest Native American Art

Stretching 2000 miles from northern California to the Alaskan panhandle, the Pacific Northwest Coast was originally home to more than 70 distinct tribes, speaking languages from four different linguistic families (Athabaskan, Penutian, Salish and Wakashan). Despite the great diversity of Northwestern Indian tribes, the artwork of the whole region has a distinctive style, due in part to the extensive coastal trading networks in place long before Europeans arrived. Each Northwest Indian nation has its own characteristic designs, of course, and those familiar with native Pacific Northwest art can tell what tribe or even what village a piece came from at a glance. But Northwest Indian art forms have not only survived in art history books, they also remain as thriving, unbroken artistic traditions of the native people who first created them. Arts and crafts Northwest Indian artists are best known for include basketry (including distinctive basket hats and capes), intricate woodcarving (especially ceremonial masks and majestic totem poles), and weavings (including the unusual Chilkat blankets). The bold, stylized designs of traditional Northwest Coast art also lend themselves well to newer art forms like painting or jewelry, and many Northwestern artists have used these media to bring their traditions to a wider audience. You can learn more about the history of each of these art forms at the links above.

If you're looking for arts and crafts that were actually made by Native Americans of the Northwest Coast, either because it's important to you to have the real thing or because you want to support native people with your purchase, then here is our list of native artists whose work is available online. If you have a website of native art to add to this list, let us know. We gladly advertise any individual native artist or native-owned art store here free of charge, provided that all arts and crafts are made by tribally recognized American Indian, Inuit, or First Nations artists.

Thank you for your interest in Native American art!

Northwest Coast Arts and Craft Stores

On our main site we do our best to avoid slowing down our page loading with graphics, but this page is about art, so we'd really be remiss in not showing a few representative pictures. All photos are the property of their respective artists; please visit their sites to see their work in more depth.

Northwest American Indian Art Galleries

Sa-Cinn Northwest Art
First Nations-owned arts and crafts shop offers a stunning array of jewelry, carvings, weavings, and other Northwest Coast Indian art.
North West Native Art
Haida-owned art gallery featuring Pacific Northwest masks, weavings, carvings, and fashion designs.

Chilkat Blankets

Chilkat Blankets
Traditional Northwest Indian robes of cedar bark, merino wool and yarn, woven by a Tlingit artist.
Blanket of Knowledge
This Native Alaskan organization sells rectangular Pendleton blankets printed with Chilkat blanket designs.

Northwest Indian Clothing

Cowichan Knit Shop
Heavy woolen sweaters in the traditional Northwest Coast designs of British Columbia.
Betty David Shearlings
Fine leather jackets painted with Northwest Indian designs, from a Spokane Indian fashion designer.

Northwest Indian Totem Poles

Totem poles are an art form unique to the Northwest Indians. Visit our Totem Pole gallery to see some of them.

Books About Northwest Indian Art

Looking at Indian Art of the Northwest Coast A World of Faces: Masks of the Northwest Coast Indians Spruce Root Basketry of the Haida and Tlingit The Chilkat Dancing Blanket
An overview of Northwestern Indian art, designs and symbolism. Photographs and sketches. History and photographs of ceremonial Pacific Northwest native mask art. Photography and descriptions of Northwest Indian baskets and basket garments. History and tradition of Chilkat Indian blankets, with photographs.

Totem Poles of the Pacific Northwest Coast Looking at Totem Poles Totem Pole
Illustrated encyclopedia of different totem pole figures, techniques, and styles. A guidebook to 110 historic totem poles that can be seen raised throughout British Columbia and Alaska, with photos, background and travel information. A nice children's book about a Tsimshian boy whose father is a totem pole carver. With color photographs.


Links About Northwest Indian Art

Here are some other good internet resources for learning about or purchasing Northwest Native American art:

The Indian Arts and Crafts Act: US law against passing off fake American Indian crafts as genuine.
What constitutes Indian art fraud, and how to report it if you find it.
Northwest Coast Native American Masks: Photoessay on the traditions, technique, and animal symbolism of Northwestern Indian dance masks.
Chilkat Blankets: Photographs of old Chilkat Indian blankets.
History of the Chilkat Blanket: History and traditions of Tlingit Indian blanket weaving.
Totem Poles Exploration: Online information about the symbolism and artistry of Indian totem poles. Many photographs.
Nothwest Coast Totem Poles: Totem pole history, photographs and bibliography.
Royal British Columbia Museum Totem Poles: Photographs of ancient totem poles from the museum's collection.
Haisla Totem Repatriation: Interesting story of a Northwest Indian totem pole returned to the Haisla people by a Swedish museum who held it for 70 years.
Native American Cultures: View our pages for individual Indian tribes, most of which have artistic information.

About us: This website belongs to Native Languages of the Americas, an indigenous language non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting endangered Native American languages. We are not artists ourselves, so if you are interested in buying some of the artwork featured on this page, please contact the artists directly. Though we have featured only Northwest American arts and crafts identified with the name and tribal affiliation of each artist, we haven't called the tribal offices to check up on any of them, and we only know a few of them personally. We also don't guarantee any of their products. This is not an exhaustive list of Northwest Coast art--if you would like us to add your art site to this page, please contact us with your URL and tribal affiliation. We advertise any individual native artist or native-owned art business here free of charge. We do not link to art which is not made by tribally recognized Northwestern American Indian artists, so please do not ask us to. And finally, websites do occasionally expire and change hands, so use your common sense and this general rule of thumb: if the creator of each individual artwork is not identified by name and specific tribe, you are probably not looking at authentic Northwest Indian art.



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