Connections Between Cultures
"To see what they're doing in the Southwest and where they've taken their traditions is exciting. Now we've made new friends, and we talk and exchange thoughts about our ways and our workmanship." ---Jim Hart, Haida artist
Although separated by 1,000 miles and by dramatic differences in climate, landscape and traditions, Northwest Coast and Southwest cultures share some striking similarities, suggesting indirect and perhaps direct contact. Indigenous peoples of both regions acquired California abalone shell through ancient trade networks and long-distance collecting expeditions; and some major spirit-beings---such as the feathered serpent and Spider Woman---appear in both regions.
The cultural links forged in the past have become even stronger today. In 2000, for example, a jewelry exchange program allowed Southwest and Northwest Coast artists to visit each other's homelands. They shared jewelry tools and techniques, as well as ideas on their art and their common Native North American identity. Since the trip, several artists have introduced new elements into some of their pieces, pushing their traditional art forms in new directions.