Carvings, Baskets, Beadwork, Mats, Tools, Designs - Plateau Indians
Carvings, Beadwork: There were many wonderful artists, both men and women, among the people of the Plateau. Artists carved sculptures of people and animals using stone, shell, wood, feathers, fur, and hides. They painted much of their work with brightly colored dyes made from various plants.
Baskets and Mats: Materials for basket weaving were collected spring, summer, and fall. Baskets and mats were woven in the winter months. The baskets of the people of the Plateau are recognized as among the best in the North America. They wove grasses and brush to make just about everything they used including summer homes, clothing, and water-tight containers used as cooking pots. To make a basket, they had to soak roots and twigs. Then they peeled, split and dyed the material and then wove it together. In the winter, they also wove mats, nets, and blankets. They also made bags, many different kinds of bags for various purposes. Bags were made to be useful and beautiful.
Designs tell a story: Much of their art was designed to tell a story. Certain designs meant certain things – for example, a blue square meant a lake, a blue circle meant clouds, a red line meant the earth, red dots meant stars, and a red cross referred to the sun. The above beanbag was made after the introduction of the horse. It signified that great distance was traveled to gather and fill the bag with special leaves and materials to make other goods. The people of the Plateau loved beauty and color. They used their artistic talent to make practical things both beautiful and meaningful.
Tools and Weapons: The men of the Plateau made a wide variety of tools and weapons. They used a wide variety of materials including wood, shell, stone, bone, antlers, bark, and plant fibers. They used spoons to eat food and carved them from bone or sheets. Stones were used to hold heat for cooking. Granite was banged into hammers. Arrowheads and spear points were made of stone. Stone knives were important. They had very sharp blades. And they made bows and arrows. They made nets for fishing. They made fishing spears.