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Evolutionary Perspectives on Native American Art

Michael H. Logan

indian outfitIn 1995, Professor Logan and his former student Douglass Schmittou co-curated an award winning exhibit for U.T.’s Frank H. McClung Museum. The exhibition—”With Pride They Made These: Tribal Styles in Plains Indian Art”—explored the role material culture plays in the expression of tribal ethnicity. Working jointly, Dr. Logan and Mr. Schmittou, now a doctoral candidate at Indiana University, have published an exhibition catalogue, as well as several journal articles on the art of 19th century Plains Indians. The theoretical perspective that guides their on-going research is that of Darwinian evolutionary theory, particularly as it relates to inter-group competition, ethnic markers, status differentials, marital structure, and drift. The shirt pictured above, while typical of male formal attire, is especially interesting. The beaded strips on the sleeves are of Blackfoot origin, the strips decorating the chest and back were made by a Lakota woman, and the shirt’s cut, elongated bib, and long fringe are classic marker traits of the Ute of Colorado. Students with an interest in Native American culture are encouraged to apply to our graduate program. Funding opportunities for students in cultural anthropology are excellent.