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Contemporary Artists




The Navajo tribe is the largest in the Southwest: with 300,000 members, it has nearly four times the population of all the Pueblo tribes combined. Known more for sheep-herding than farming, the Navajos have historically been much more mobile than their Pueblo neighbors.




For over 1,500 years, Hopis and their ancestors have lived at the tips of three long, fingerlike mesas that jut out over the arid Arizona landscape. One Hopi village, Orayvi, is the oldest continuously occupied town in North America. Surrounded on all sides by the Navajo reservation, and 85 miles from the nearest city, Hopis have been buffered somewhat from outside influences.




Closer to the other western Pueblos of Acoma and Hopi than to the Rio Grande Pueblos, the Zunis are relatively isolated, and their language is unrelated to any other. Yet Zuni ceremonies—especially the spectacular Shalako in December—have attracted thousands of visitors, and Zuni artists have won worldwide acclaim.



Santo Domingo

One of the largest, most populous, and most prosperous of the Rio Grande Pueblos, Santo Domingo (or Ke-wha in the Keresan language, still widely spoken at the Pueblo) is admired for clinging to its traditions. Its pride, conservatism, and relatively large size (c. 3,200 people) have produced a solid core committed to maintaining traditional ceremonies and beliefs.



Rio Grande Pueblos

More than a dozen Pueblos are clustered along the Rio Grande, which provides plentiful water for their crops—in contrast to the desert Pueblos of Hopi and Zuni. Distinct communities, the Rio Grande Pueblos comprise two language groups: five Pueblos near the Rio Grande speak Keresan (as do two others farther west, Acoma and Laguna), while eleven more speak Tewa, Tiwa, or Towa—distinct languages of the Tanoan family.




Turquoise is found in many parts of the world—indeed, the word "turquoise" comes from the early French word turceis, meaning "Turkish." In America, turquoise is the signature stone of the Southwest, and it has been used in Southwestern jewelry since at least AD 300.




Of the roughly 4,000 Haida people living today, most reside on Haida Gwaii, also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, where their ancestors have lived for more than 5,000 years. The ocean surrounds the Haida on all sides, defining their culture, providing their food and shaping their stories and traditions.




A group of roughly 20 tribes that share a common language, the Kwakwaka'wakw are famous for the depth and complexity of their ceremonial dances and songs, which dramatize their connections to the supernatural world. After 1885, when the Canadian government outlawed the "potlatch" gift-giving ceremony and its attendant dances and songs, the Kwakwaka'wakw maintained these traditions in secret until they became legal again.




Some 10,000 Tlingit live in a dozen villages throughout the islands and nearby mainland of the southeast Alaska panhandle. A few communities still speak the Tlingit language, and although fluent speakers are mostly elders, some children learn the language in elementary school programs.



Other Regions

Northwest Coast art can be broadly divided into two regional styles: northern and southern. Northern style includes the Tsimshian, Gitxsan, Nisga'a, and Haisla, as well as the Haida and Tlingit in cases nearbyß.


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