Indian women were very fond of sports, creativity, and games of chance. Handicraft products were one of the main ways to express art talents. There was no 'art for art's sake.' A woman's artistic skills were used in making pottery and cooking utensils to be used in the home. Baskets were also artistically made. Basket making was considered a woman's job. Basketmaking was a very slow, tiring process. Before a basket could be made, a woman had to gather, prepare, and store all the materials needed. Women learned at a very young age to make baskets. The Atsugewi tribe attributede their skills to a grardian spirit that was passed on by rubbing hands together. Cooking baskets were woven very tighy; sometimes seventy stitches to the inch. The pleasure women took in basket making overrode the tedium.
The making of ceramics was most highly developed by the Mississippi Valley tribes. The Pueblo Indians used pottery to carry water.
Due to the long distance they would travel, the pottery was made very thin and light. Hopi women had pottery making parties. When Zuni women made pottery, they were very quiet and serious. The Apache got their pottery making skills from the Zuni. Before the collected clay, they would have a ceremony during which they would smoke from a clay pipe. Men were not allowed around Apache clay beds.
The decoration on pottery was how women got to express themselves. Some designs were used over and over. Women would put the designs in different places in order to destinguish their potterey apart.
The art of weaving is so ancient, the origin is unknown. The Navajo viewed weaving as not the beginning of a project, but as the end of one years work of raising and shearing sheep and collecting wool. The Navajo are...