Indigenous American art, culture take limelight in Korea

A total of 151 Indigenous American craftworks, photographs and paintings, all hailing from the Denver Art Museum's  collection, have been brought to the National Museum of Korea in central Seoul as part of its latest exhibition — titled 'Stories of the People Whom We Once Called Indians' in Korean and 'Cultures and Histories of Indigenous Peoples in North America' in English. Yonhap

The National Museum of Korea in central Seoul has chosen a strikingly forthright Korean title for its latest exhibition: “Stories of the People Whom We Once Called Indians.”

Co-organized with the Denver Art Museum (DAM) in Colorado, the show adopts a much-needed revisionary lens toward the Indigenous peoples of North America as the first event of its kind staged in the country.

Visitors are offered a glimpse into the living cultures of 43 Indigenous American tribes — out of over 570 federally recognized in the continental United States alone — through works that go well beyond the popular imagery of feathered headdresses, tipis and grossly misrepresented fragments of history.

All 151 craftworks, photographs and paintings on display hail from the DAM’s encyclopedic collection. As one of the first art institutions in the 커뮤니티 U.S. to start collecting Indigenous art of the region a century ago, the museum today houses more than 18,000 objects embodying creative traditions from ancestral times to the present.

“Our museum has collected works to show the living, breathing cultures of Native people at every moment in time. I think that’s one thing that makes a difference between the works of the Denver Art Museum and perhaps the anthropological collections,” noted its assistant curator Dakota Hoska, who is a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

The exhibition’s first section paints a broad picture of centuries-old Indigenous tribes’ crafts and customs, highlighting their deep communion with the all-giving nature — be it the open grasslands of the Great Plains or the icy Arctic.

Among the intricate everyday handiworks are a cradleboard, or a portable baby-carrier that can be attached to horseback (Kiowa); an antler-made flesher used to prepare buffalo hides (Cheyenne); an eye-dazzling wool blanket (Navajo); a ceremonial parka made from walrus intestine and crested auklet feathers (Inupiaq), a box crafted from porcupine quills (Mi’kmaq); and an eagle-feathered headdress 

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