September 27, 2019–January 12, 2020

Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists

Ingram Gallery

  • Christi Belcourt (Michif). The Wisdom of the Universe, 2014. Acrylic on canvas. Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Purchased with funds donated by Greg Latremoile, 2014, 2014/6. © Christi Belcourt

  • Jamie Okuma, Luiseno/Shoshone-Bannock. Adaptation II, 2012. Shoes designed by Christian Louboutin. Leather, glass beads, porcupine quills, sterling silver cones, brass sequins, chicken feathers, cloth, deer rawhide, and buckskin. Minneapolis Institute of Art, Bequest of Virginia Doneghy, by exchange, 2012.68.1A,B. © 2012 Jamie Okuma

  • Rose B. Simpson, Santa Clara Pueblo. Maria, 2014. Chevy El Camino. Collection of the artist. © 2014 Rose B. Simpson. Image © Kate Russell

  • Joyce Growing Thunder Fogarty (Dakota/Nakoda), Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty (Dakota/Nakoda), and Jessa Rae Growing Thunder (Dakota/Nakoda). Give Away Horses (dress and accessories), 2006. Deer hide, glass beads, canvas, thread, leather, moose hide, German silver, porcupine quills, feathers, elk hide, brass bells, ribbon, silk ribbons, and brass thimbles. National Museum of the American Indian, 26/5818–5821

  • Nellie Two Bear Gates (Gathering of Clouds Woman) (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna Dakhóta, Standing Rock Reservation, 1854–?). Valise, 1880–1910. Beads, hide, metal, oilcloth, thread. Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Robert J. Ulrich Works of Art Purchase Fund, 2010.19

  • Elizabeth Hickox. Container, 1924. Plant fibers and dyed porcupine quills, 5 1/2 x 6 in. Denver Art Museum Collection: Purchase from Grace Nicholson, 1946.388. Photograph © Denver Art Museum

  • Sisíthuŋwaŋ Dakhóta artist. Tablecloth, 1900–1910. Wool, glass beads, brass beads, cotton
    thread. Collection of the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution 12/814. Photo by NMAI Photo Services

  • Ramona Sakiestewa, Hopi. Nebula 22 & 23, 2009. Tapestry, wool warp, and dyed wool weft, diptych: 32 1/2 x 33 in. each. Collection of Carl and Marilynn Thoma. © 2009 Ramona L. Sakiestewa. Image courtesy of Tai Modern Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

  • Innu (Naskapi) artist. Hunting Coat, ca. 1750. Caribou hide and pigment, 39 x 59 in. Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Robert J. Ulrich Works of Art Purchase, 2012.27

  • Crow artist. Dress, ca. 1930. Wool, elk teeth, and ribbon. Denver Art Museum Collection: Gift of the L. D. and Ruth Bax Collection, 1985.46. Photograph © Denver Art Museum

  • Dorothy Grant with Robert Davidson. Hummingbird Dress, 1995. Wool, 42 x 58 in. Denver Art Museum Collection: Native Arts acquisition fund, 2010.490. Photograph © Denver Art Museum. © 1989 Dorothy Grant and Robert Davidson

  • Lucy Martin Lewis (Acoma Pueblo). Ceramic seed jar, 1968. Clay and pigment. Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Patricia and Peter Frechette Endowment for Art Acquisition and gift of funds from Constance Kunin, 2018.5


Women have long been the creative force behind Native American art; however, Hearts of Our People is the first major exhibition devoted solely to their work. This groundbreaking and comprehensive project features more than 115 objects—including traditional textiles, baskets, beadwork, and pottery, as well as painting, sculpture, video, and installation art—made by artists working in the United States and Canada from ancient times to the present day. Hearts of Our People is meant to be a tribute to all Native women artists, their families, and their nations, past and present. It is their minds, hearts, and hands that have birthed their worlds, and this exhibition, into being.

The exhibition planning process began with a question: Why do Native women make art? Organizers chose to respond within three core themes: Legacy, Relationships, and Power. Legacy examines the ways in which Native women artists acknowledge their lineage, making works that simultaneously embody the experience of previous generations, address the present moment, and speak to the future. Relationships explores the concept of bonds existing beyond the human world that include animals, nature, and other entities the non-Native world does not often recognize as having volition and agency. Power encompasses works created for diplomacy and influence, to empower others, and for the empowerment of oneself.

You will see similarities across cultures and communities, but you will also see many differences. Native Americans are not a single monolithic group, and each tribe, nation, or community has its own unique culture, history, and present moment. Perhaps most important, each Native artist, like artists the world over, brings her own life experience, skill, and individual style to her art.

The co-curators of this exhibition are Jill Ahlberg Yohe, associate curator of Native American art at Minneapolis Institute of Art, and Teri Greeves, Kiowa artist and scholar. Special recognition goes to Dakota Hoska, Lakȟóta, research assistant. During each step of the curatorial process, they worked closely with an Exhibition Advisory Board to develop the major themes of the exhibition and advise on object selection. The board was also instrumental in determining the structure and content of the exhibition catalogue and related programming.

The Hearts of Our People Exhibition Advisory Board members include: heather ahtone, Choctaw/Chickasaw, senior curator, American Indian Cultural Center and Museum, Oklahoma City; D. Y. Begay, Navajo artist, Santa Fe; Janet Berlo, professor of art history and visual and cultural studies, University of Rochester; Susan Billy, Pomo artist, Ukiah, California; Katie Bunn-Marcuse, director and managing editor, Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Coast Art, Burke Museum, Seattle; Christina Burke, curator, Native American and non-Western art, Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa; Kelly Church, Anishinaabe artist and educator, Michigan; Heid Erdrich, Ojibwe writer and curator, Minneapolis; Anita Fields, Osage artist, Tulsa; Adriana Greci Green, curator, Indigenous arts of the Americas, The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia; Carla Hemlock, Mohawk artist, Kahnewake; Graci Horne, Dakȟóta, independent curator, Minneapolis; Nadia Jackinsky, Alutiiq art historian, Anchorage; America Meredith, Cherokee, publishing editor of First American Art Magazine, Oklahoma City; Nora Naranjo Morse, Santa Clara artist, Española; Cherish Parrish, Anishinaabe artist and educator, University of Michigan; Ruth Phillips, Canada Research Professor and professor of art history, Carleton University; Jolene K. Rickard, Tuscarora, artist and associate professor of the history of art and visual studies, Cornell University; Lisa Telford, Haida artist, Seattle; and Dyani White Hawk, Sičháŋğu Lakȟóta (Brulé) artist and curator, Minneapolis.

The exhibition will be accompanied by interactive interpretive “ArtStories” in multiple media, and a scholarly catalogue. 

Organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Art


This exhibition has been made possible in part by a major grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.


Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

HCA Tri-Star

Platinum Sponsor

Union Station

Hospitality Sponsor


Supported in part by


Supported in part by

NEA Artworks

Supported in part by

Click here to go back to the top of the page

Sorry, this image is copyrighted