15 November 2009

Eastern Woodland Indian Patterns

Patterns

This weekend I added a few more impressions to Vast Unpeopled Lands. The photo you see above represents 18 distinct impressions (that is, I've printed 18 times so far from the 5 blocks I've carved).

PatternsDetail
Detail

Unfortunately I couldn't find any design sources for native Massachusetts tribal patterns, but I did locate these designs, based on surviving patterns from the neighboring Iroquois and Mohawk nations (originally from upstate New York).

The native Americans of New England had very different beliefs and ways of interacting with the environment than the English who arrived in the 17th century. The Americans subsisted off the land in a migratory fashion, both hunting and fishing and planting crops seasonally. Through the use of small controlled forest burnings, movement between different areas of food sources through the year, low population densities, and the use of multicrop agriculture, the impact of the native population on local ecosystems was fairly small and consistent.

The Europeans, however, relied on livestock which had a huge impact on the local ecosystems. Europeans cleared vast amounts of land, relied on settled rather than migratory agriculture, introduced fences and notions of individual ownership, and viewed the products of the land as commodities to be claimed.

These differences in understanding about ownership and use of land led many of the newly arrived Europeans to believe that the land they saw stretching out before them was uninhabited, virgin, and there for the taking. In many ways they were literally unable to see the marks of the cultures that already lived there.

9 comments:

starkeyart said...

Annie! I love what you've done with the patterns! I've been patiently waiting to see how they would be incorporated. They are so subtle yet they really make those hills pop visually. Great idea.

Zach VanDeHey said...

The patterns make the hills really come alive, I like it.

Magic Cochin said...

Beautiful! I absolutely love how you've incorporated the patterns onto the land - it takes the print into a new dimension.

Isn't it interesting how the land bears the fingerprints of its past inhabitants - if only we learn to look.

Celia

d. moll, l.ac. said...

Brilliant!

Debra said...

Bravo.

This is like a serial story in a magazine of 75 years ago. Bits emerge, the plot unfolds, I wait impatiently for the next layer(s) of meaning . . .

Annie B said...

Thanks so much everyone for following along. Debra, "like a serial story in a magazine" is such a nice compliment coming from a writer!

Andrew Stone said...

Dear Annie;
Wow. I like where this is going. The scale and the colors, the layering of texture, pattern, symbols and decoration. I like, too the constellations. Looks like its almost done? Are you still having stretching or registration issues?

Annie B said...

Thanks, Andrew. It is almost done. I'm not having as much trouble now with the registration -- I think it's a combination of finally getting the feel for working at this size plus the fact that I left some overlap between shapes in the carving so the registration wouldn't need to be so tight.

cat said...

Beautiful print! It amazes me the number of plates you use in a print.