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Native American Art As A Form Of Healing

Native American Art plays a significant role in terms of educating us about the past. There are many stories that you can learn about and understand by appreciating Native American Art. In this blog post, we are going to look at Native American Art, such as Acoma pottery, as well as how this art is used in therapeutic ways. 

The History of Acoma Pueblo Pottery

There are some truly stunning examples of Native American Art. Acoma Pueblo art, for example, is best known for its unique style and method for making pottery. They use techniques that have been practiced since 1150 AD such as the establishment of Acoma. 

Acoma Pueblo pottery, a distinct style of Acoma pottery, is also well-known for stunning quality. This is a style that is characterized by thin walls and fluted rims. Acoma artists are well known for their geometric patterns and fine line painting. The patterns used often symbolize different natural elements. For example, rain symbolizes hatching patterns. 

These art forms began around the same time that the Acoma settlement was established in New Mexico. The process involves using the “coil and scrape” method to etch details into the pottery. The clay was gathered by hand, processed using stones or old pottery to remove impurities, and stored in a damp place. While the clay settled, the artists would collect natural elements and materials to make the pigments they would use when finishing the art. Each piece was designed to be functional as well as beautiful. 

How Native American Art is Used in Therapeutic Ways

Native Americans consider art an element of life rather than a separate aesthetic ideal. In Aboriginal societies, arts are considered elements of public life. They bring together arts, poetry, and dancing into one single function: ritual as the all-embracing expression. Native people view painting as indistinct from dancing, dancing as indistinct from worship, and worship as indistinct from living. 

While art is valued highly because of the magical power it possesses, there is also a mystical foundation for aesthetic judgment amongst Aboriginal people. If art is made well, rather than being viewed as beautiful, it is “good spirit,” and this is critical when it comes to the healing powers of American Art.

Reach the State of Harmony

When the art of any culture can reach its highest levels, a state of harmony between the antagonistic forces within the confines of its symbolic world can be reached. In fact, according to Landgarten, an art therapist, the serious elements of art hinge on the purposeful making of symbols. If there are disturbances in terms of the ability to create useful, personal symbols in art, it can be a serious indication of pathology. 

The Relationship Between Art and Healing Lies Within Symbolization

Traditional shamans or native healers draw upon the wide range of symbolism that were passed on throughout the centuries. Conventional healers store these images in their memory, passing them on from generation to generation. Music, sand paintings, chants, songs, prayers, myths, and other art forms are used to return the patient to the tribal energy source symbolically. 


Aboriginal philosophy does not separate healing from religion or art. In fact, virtually all of the healing disciplines initially came from religious beliefs and the practices of the spiritual leader. Across Northern America, there are native societies whereby the holy people or shamans share the power of their visions with a group of initiates, which can sometimes be their past patients.

Symbols Used in Native American Art

As mentioned, symbols are at the core of Native American Art. It is important to recognize that there are cultural variations, so do keep this in mind. 

We’ll start off by looking at the eagle. In Native American paintings and Eskimo stone carvings, the eagle symbolizes being transported to a different realm. The eagle, who rises to tremendous heights, overcomes the earthly world to enter the gateway to immortality, i.e., the place of origin. 

You can find the link between bird figures and shamans all over the globe. The bird is always a denotation of change, activation, vitality, and rising. In fact, in some traditions, the bird is believed to symbolize the soul. In others, though, the bird is viewed as being a celestial message bearer - an intelligent collaborator with man.  

Birthstones have been used amongst the Eastern Woodland people to protect people from disasters. In fact, a number of medicine men would wear a small black bird over one ear. This was their badge of office. Masks resembling animals such as bears and snakes were carved from wood by Cherokee medicine men. They also used other materials for creating masks, including dyes from sassafras, woodchuck hair, bearskin, gourds, and hornets’ nests.

Another common symbol that you will find in most Native societies is that of the medicine wheel. The medicine wheel is a circle that has vertical and horizontal lines going through the middle. The circle is a symbolization of the earth, whereas the lines are meant to represent sacred paths. There are also four colors that are represented on the medicine wheel; yellow, red, white, and black. These colors are meant to represent humanity’s four races. They also represent the four cardinal directions. Among the Cherokee, yellow symbolizes the east, black connotes the west, green symbolizes the south, and white represents the north. 

Other associations for these colors include the following:

  • Yellow is associated with mental concepts, wisdom, and quiet.
  • Green is linked with innocence, quietness, and the natural man.
  • Black is linked with physical and introspection. 
  • White is associated with spirituality, enlightenment, and the sun. 

Color symbolism in terms of directions for the medicine wheel differs amongst various tribes, yet the concept of this service is universal to others.

Final words on Native American Art as a Form of Healing

So there you have it: everything you need to know about Native American Art as a form of healing. There are some truly stunning and mesmerizing examples of Native American Art, such as Acoma Pottery. Not only do these examples of pottery look incredible, but they also play a critical role in healing as well. Check out our store today to see some outstanding examples of Acoma Pottery that will elevate your health!

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