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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America



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Art of the American Indian Postage Stamps


WASHINGTON, July 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Captivating expressions of Native American art will be commemorated August 21 in Santa Fe, NM, when the U.S. Postal Service issues ten, 37-cent Art of the American Indian commemorative postage stamps and a booklet of twenty, 23-cent stamped postal cards depicting the beauty, richness and diversity of talent by artists from several Native American tribes.

The first-day-of-issue stamp dedication ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. (Mountain Time) on the Plaza Stage during the Santa Fe Indian Market. This annual event, sponsored by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA), draws some 1,200 Indian artists who market their creations to 100,000 visitors (

"These stamps represent a small sampling of the diverse ways that Native Americans created objects used in their everyday lives that were also extraordinary expressions of beauty," said Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President Anita Bizzotto, who is scheduled to dedicate the stamps.

Joining Bizzotto in dedicating the stamps will be SWAIA Executive Director Jai Lakshman. "The Santa Fe Indian Market is greatly honored to provide the host-setting for the release of these stamps," he said. "The pieces featured remind all Americans of the extraordinary vision and talent of the American Indian artists who have paved the way for Native artists who continue to share their gifts of creativity today."

Creative expression continues to flourish among American Indian artists today. Some still create traditional forms; others are expanding their artistic endeavors in new directions in the fields of painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, video and performance art.

The pane of ten jumbo, self-adhesive stamps features photographs of ten American Indian artifacts dating from around the 11th century A.D. to circa 1969. John Stevens, a calligrapher in Winston-Salem, NC, designed and created the lettering in the title. Descriptive text on the back of the stamps includes an overview and specific information about each of the ten objects. Many of these objects continue to be created by Native American artists today.

Santa Fe, as host city for this first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony, will be the only city in the nation where the Art of the American Indian stamps and stamped postal cards are available Saturday, August 21. They will be available at Post Offices and Philatelic Centers nationwide beginning Monday, August 23.

Executed in a variety of media, these artifacts illustrate the talent, ingenuity, and artistic skills of America's first peoples. Descriptions of the stamps:

A Mimbres bowl from the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. The Mimbres people of southwestern New Mexico produced a unique style of black-on-white pottery featuring representations of wildlife, humans, or mythic beings combined with geometric motifs. Most bowls of the Classic Mimbres period (circa A.D. 1000-1150) probably served as eating vessels. This striking example depicts two stylized bighorn sheep, animals that were once common in the Mimbres area.

A Kutenai parfleche from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Containers of folded or sewn rawhide, known as parfleches, were traditionally used by Plains and Plateau tribal groups to store and transport food and material possessions. These utilitarian objects were painted with colorful and distinctive geometric patterns that had both aesthetic appeal and spiritual significance. This Kutenai parfleche was collected in 1900, probably in Idaho.

Two Tlingit sculptures from the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Museum of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley. Wood sculpture was a fundamental form of artistic expression among the men of the Northwest Coast tribes, and objects carved and painted in their distinctive style were eagerly sought by tourists and collectors. These two Tlingit sculptures, dated circa 1890, likely illustrate the story of Salmon Boy, a youth who lived for a time with the Salmon People in their supernatural realm beneath the sea.

A detail from a Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) bag, from the Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Using ingenious twining techniques, women of the Great Lakes and Central Plains tribes wove beautiful storage bags of bison hair, plant fibers, and wool yarn, often incorporating stylized depictions of mythological beings into their designs. The thunderbird, which embodies the sky realm, was a favorite motif; this one is a detail from an 1840-1860 Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) bag collected in Nebraska.

A Miccosukee-Seminole doll from the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C. During the early decades of the 20th century, Miccosukee-Seminole women in Florida developed a unique style of patchwork clothing. They used hand-operated sewing machines to piece together brightly colored cotton shirts and dresses, and they outfitted dolls made for the tourist trade in miniature versions of these traditional garments. This male doll, made circa 1935, wears a man's "," or big shirt.

A Mississippian effigy from the Frank H. McClung Museum, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This sandstone male effigy is an outstanding example of the art of the late Mississippian culture (A.D. 1300-1550) in Tennessee. A strikingly naturalistic portrait, the statue provides a valuable glimpse into a complex prehistoric society. It was found with a female figurine that was carved in less detail; together they may represent the ancestors of a founding lineage.

An Acoma pot made by Lucy Martin Lewis, from the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C. Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico is known for exceptionally thin-walled pottery decorated with complex geometric designs carefully painted on a white slip background. Master potter Lucy Martin Lewis (circa 1895 -1992) helped revive the black- on-white style by adapting 800-year-old Puebloan pottery designs to modern Acoma ceramics. The lightning pattern on this jar, which she made about 1969, derives from ancestral traditions.

A Navajo weaving by Daisy Taugelchee, from the Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado. Weaving is the art form for which the Navajo are best known, and the finely woven textiles from the Two Grey Hills region in New Mexico -- characterized by geometric designs executed in natural shades of hand-spun wool yarns with wide or multiple borders -- are highly esteemed. Daisy Taugelchee (1911-1990), who set unprecedented standards of fine spinning and weaving, made this stellar tapestry in the late 1940s.

A detail of a Seneca ladle from the New York State Museum, Albany, New York, on loan to the Akwesasne Museum, Hogansburg, New York. Among the Iroquois, carving was traditionally men's work, and they were adept at transforming wooden utensils into works of art -- a skill particularly evident in the diverse human and animal effigies that adorn the handles of ladles. This elaborately carved handle finial, depicting a dog watching a human eating, ornaments a mid-19th-century Seneca ladle from the Tonawanda Reservation in New York.

A Luiseno basket from the Riverside Municipal Museum, Riverside, California. Renowned for the exquisite beauty and technical excellence of their basketwork, California Indians -- who used basketry items for every conceivable utilitarian, social, and ritual purpose -- elevated a practical craft into fine art. This superb Luiseno coiled basket, made of split sumac and natural and black-dyed juncus rush on a grass foundation, probably dates to the 1890s.

How to Order First-Day-of-Issue Postmark

Customers have 30 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, by telephone at 1-800-STAMP-24, and at the Postal Store Web site at They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

120 S Federal PLACE
SANTA FE NM 87501-9998

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark. All orders must be postmarked by September 20, 2004.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 of Vicki Barry and Paul Barry.

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