The flute player, the pot, and the medicine wheel are designed to symbolize and remind us that while much of their land and way of life has forever been changed, the spiritual nature of Native American peoples still finds its expression in art and music. Indian and Pueblo pottery is internationally admired for its design and beauty. These pots which are handmade with traditional techniques, offer a timelessness and beauty that seems to embody the feeling and emotions that go in to them.
There are many wonderful and creative Native American jewelry designers including the former senator from Colorado, Ben Nighthorse. His southwestern Indian jewelry is about as unique and beautiful as you will ever see. The musician Carlos Nakai is an extremely talented flute player but he is able to infuse his music ,.such that it seems to be coming out of the land and echoing off the canyons, and arroyos of his native land.
Many Native Americans have had a tough time adapting to the current world. Reservations are often very poor, and plagued by unemployment, and alcoholism. In most instances the land chosen for reservations, was chosen for its overall poor quality, and given to the Indians for that reason.
That said the Native American spirit still thrives through its language, art, and music. Many non-Native Americans feel the pull of these native sounds and images as well.
We have visited the northern New Mexico Pueblos many times. Observing the pottery and the Potters, and the images and traditions that have been passed down to people living in the same Pueblo where their ancestors have lived for hundreds of years, I’m reminded of the Hebrew phrase L’dor VaDor. From generation to generation.
It’s a challenge for any group to preserve its traditions in the modern world with so many influences and distractions. For the Native American so much of their traditions were attached to the land, the seasons, and the animals.
For thousands of years Jewish people were also dispossessed of their native land. Jewish culture, however, was much more portable because much of it was contained in the Bible and the Talmud. People could be transported, or deported, to any area of the world and still maintain their traditions.
For Native American people dispossessed of their lands, music and art are two of their most effective ways to achieve L’Dor VaDor.