There are many ways to record history. Although Plains cultures did not historically have written languages, they shared events and stories from the past through oral traditions and the creation of visual documents like petroglyphs, paintings on buffalo hide, and ceremonial items and regalia. They also preserved and continue to preserve ancestral knowledge and cultural identity by practicing traditional lifeways and crafts.
At any given moment, a newly created work of art is “contemporary.” There have always been “contemporary” Native American artists whose work reflects and comments upon the times. The objects in this section provide a window into indigenous histories of the Plains and explore issues and ideas related to cultural identity.