Thursday, December 13, 2012

Stanley Park poles

I purchased this card in a Canadian post office in Saskatoon. The carved poles, located in Stanley Park in British Columbia, are a common image for cards depicting Canadian Northwest Coast First Nations culture.


this card celebrates the Wanuskewin Heritage Park near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I visited the site recently and had a fantastic walking tour with the park's archaeologist. Indigenous peoples used this area for hunting and camping over thousands of years and continue to hold events and ceremonies at the park today. There is a wonderful interpretive center with includes 2 art galleries, gift shop and meeting rooms.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pueblo pottery

A Postcrosser in California sent these 3 great cards showing Pueblo pottery from the San Bernadino County Museum's collection. The museum was established in the 1950s and is located in Redlands, California.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Wow, thanks to Joao (a stamp collector in Brazil) my collection of native people in the Amazon is really growing....these are wonderful cards since the peoples & cultures are rapidly changing as a result of outside influences. Joao also sent some lovely Brazilian stamps featuring aspects of indigenous culture including rock art and ceramics. He kindly sent extra cards that I will pass on to my students!

A member of the Maku tribe located near Rio Negro. Behind him is the maloca, or ancestral long house, shared by several patrilineal related families with a separate entrance for men and another for women.

Using indigenous hunting/fishing tools along the Rio Marauia in northwestern Brazil.

A Kaiabi paje (shaman) and his red macaws. Macaw feathers are used for many decorations.1300 Kaiabi live in the Xingu reserve located in Mato Grosso, and shared with 14 other tribal groups.

A Karaja chief from Bananal Island decorated with body paint and a fantastic bird feather headdress. Tribal members live in 29 villages in Central Brazil; their population has declined from 45,000 to 3000 today.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Curtis girl

This image of a native child was made by Edward S. Curtis around 1900. Curtis was an important photographer; he made approximately 1500 images of Native Americans at the turn of the century with plans to publish them all in 20 volumes. Curtis sold just 227 of these book sets before the economic depression and died with his project unfulfilled. He also made documentary films such as In the Land of the Head Hunters, depicting life among Northwest Coast peoples; this film has recently been restored with new audio by the Burke Museum and retitled In the Land of the War Canoes.
This card was sent by Laura in the Netherlands!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Shopping in Michigan

In the US the earliest postcards were used for advertising due to postal regulations that didn't allow personal messages to be visible. Each year I travel with friends to Saugatuck Michigan to visit a nice shop...the owners spend their winters in New Mexico buying art directly from Native American artists and also from pawn shops, then bring their lovely items north. Here are 2 advertising postcards showing some of the amazing things sold in their shop. The owners are incredibly knowledgeable about the art, native communities and specific artists, so its always a great learning experience to spend time with them!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Every Wind

A Postcrosser sent me this very nice portrait of an Ojibwa (Chippewa) woman taken in 1915 by Roland Reed. Reed was from Wisconsin and photographed native people in Minnesota and later Montana.Historically Ojibwa people lived on the north side of Lake Superior, traded furs with the French and English in Michigan and Wisconsin; today they remain in northern Michigan. Helene found this postcard out in New Mexico and its a wonderful new addition to my collection!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Kiowa Eagle Dancer

Stephen Mopope's Eagle Dancer, 1929. Mopope (1900-1974) was a member of the Kiowa 5, a group of young painters encouraged during the 1920s and 1930s by Oscar Jacobson, a University of Oklahoma art professor. These artists were inspired by earlier plains ledger style art but created a different flat style. This card is produced by the stationary company Pomegrante and was sent from Germany.

Friday, September 14, 2012


wow, Joao sent a packet of indigenous cards from Brazil and they are fantastic! He even found another stamp featuring the Yanomami but he reports these cards are surprisingly hard to find despite Brazil's rich native heritage. So big thanks to Joao for his success in finding such wonderful postcards!! Here are a select few:

A member of the Kamayura tribe along the Xingu River fishes from a dug out canoe.

A Karaja man from the Araguaia River wears an elaborate headdress made from macaw and heron feathers; he also has elaborate designs painted on his body.

A woman in the village of Kuicuro  on the Xingu River prepares food to be eaten in a celebration. The community's large shared house is behind her.

A Tauarauana man whose reserve is located along the Xingu River performs a dance that asks for spiritual protection of his community.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mayans in Belize

A friend took a short holiday to Belize and visited the Mayan ruins at Lamanai. The site is along the New River which was undoubtedly used for trade and transportation of people & ideas. The city received a large number of copper objects such as rings and bells in the Post-Classic period. The various stone temples were constructed during the Classic era.

Xunantunich is another Late Classic site in Belize near the Mopan River.
These are my first cards celebrating the Mayan culture in Belize!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sand Painting

My aunt & uncle traveled to the southwest as they often do and picked up some nice Navajo postcards for me. This one is quite shows Navajos making a sand painting in Monument Valley, Arizona (where director John Ford made many John Wayne movies in the 1950s).
"Sand painting" is actually part of a healing ceremony: minerals are ground up and then used to illustrate religious beings who bring blessings to the Earth and the Dine (Navajo). The ceremony is held inside a traditional Navajo home (hogan) with only family members present. The patient sits on the artwork while the healers sing and pray; at the end it is all swept away.
Small versions can be purchased in art galleries and tourist shops; colored sand is applied to a wooden board illustrating many of these spiritual beings called Yei.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hubble Trade Post

while not exactly a Native American image, this card features the famous Hubble Trading Post, located at Ganado Arizona and now a Natl Park Service historic site. For many years Navajo people exchanged their woven rugs & blankets for dry goods, food, yarn, and tools here. There is an informative web site at
Navajo artists offer weaving demonstrations and I'm sure they sell lost of great stuff there even today!
The museum has 112 Hopi pots, 170 Navajo rugs and 60 Navajo concho belts; many were probably acquired in trade or purchase by the Hubbels.
Big thanks to Adobe, a Postcrosser in Arizona for sending this card!

Ksan Village, British Columbia

Laura (stampraider) sends 2 very nice cards showing a reconstructed NW Coast village with large clan houses and carved family crest poles located in Hazelton, British Columbia. The Ksan historical village and museum has a nice website:
arts & crafts are produced on site and they offer native refreshments...wonder if any dances are held there, would be a great location!

Laura's envelope included lots of great stamps celebrating Canada's First Nations, very nice!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tupi of Brazil

Joao, a stamp collector in Brazil, sent these wonderful cards showing Tupi material culture displayed by a museum. The Tupi lived on the east coast of Brazil at the time of Portuguese contact; their numbers declined and only a few remain today.
There is also a catalog for this museum exhibition (all in Portuguese):

Joao also sent a bonus, a stamp showing the Yanomami! This tribe is well known to American anthropologists and has been researched since the 1960s. They live in both Brazil and Venezuela, but have been heavily impacted by forest development.

Big thanks to Joao!!

Saturday, August 11, 2012


today's cards feature dancers at the annual Gift of the Waters pageant in Thermopolis, Wyoming. Here Ethan Harris, Shoshone, displays his wonderful regalia including Plateau style floral beadwork, back bustle, eagle feather fan, and headdress which includes magpie and red tail hawk feathers.

another card features a Shoshone-Arapaho elder and her great-granddaughter. Her blue wool dress is decorated with cowrie shells while floral beadwork decorates her moccasins and dance purse.
thanks to Postcrosser creoledreamer for this nice exchange!

Monday, August 6, 2012

NW Canada

Postcrosser Kirsten went on holiday traveling across western Canada; before she left I asked her to look for some First Nations cards. These are very nice!

Poles carved from red cedar were purchased in the 1920s but were moved in the early 1960s and placed in Stanley Park, located in the province of British Columbia.
these carved poles are located on the grounds of a suspension bridge
and a 1914 Edward S. Curtis photograph shows a dance mask with a lovely Chilikat blanket. These blankets are yellow and black in color, made from Mt. goat wool & finely shredded cedar bark and were worn at important ceremonial events to display their owner's wealth.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fancy Dancer

Summer is pow wow season back home in Oklahoma and all over Indian Country....a great time to be with friends & family, children learn more about their tribal heritage, everyone can appreciate the amazing artistic skills used to create dance regalia (moccasins, feather bustles, hide & cloth dresses, shirts, leggings, pouches and more), enjoy fresh hot fry bread, and sometime shop for beads or other vendor merchandise. Young athletic men enjoy modern dances such as the Fancy Dance seen here...Postcrosser mmgray has a friend who does Fancy Dance, so this was a special card to send.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Canada's First Nations

this card celebrates some of the diversity of Canada's indigenous peoples, represented by coastal wood carvings, prairie/plains tipis used by Blackfeet & Sarsi, and modern cultural expressions such as the pow-wow held annually in Toronto. The attached postage stamp features a cowboy's silver belt buckle, celebrating the Calgary Stampede. Thanks to Postcrosser cj23 for adding a fun card to my Canada collection!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Nitzitapi (Blackfoot)

Today's card was sent by an archaeologist in Canada and features a photo from the well known Glenbow Archives. Here 2 men of the Blackfeet nation conduct a ceremony on the prairie. Laura has a nice blog of her own featuring archaeology in First Day Covers, stamps and postcards...she sent this with stamps celebrating Inuit culture. She lives in an area rich in native culture, art and tourism so I look forward to more cards from her and continued conversations about our shared interests in anthropology!

View Laura's blog at:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mississippian motiff

 decided to offer a slightly different post, one showing cards I have sent out instead of received! I found a stack of these offered on Ebay for super cheap (something like $.05 each) so I bought all of them, 150 total. I mailed a few out to friends, kept a few for exchanges, and sent the rest to a friend in Oklahoma who is a member of the Caddo tribe. She kept half and passed the rest on to the Caddo Tribal Museum. Hopefully they will both find a nice use for them, either selling or being mailed out to advertise their exhibits etc.
The design is identified as coming from a large marine shell (probably a conch traded up from the Gulf of Mexico, perhaps headed for Spiro Oklahoma) found in the University of Arkansas collection so there is a good chance it is associated with the Caddoan people during the Mississippian era, a highly developed social and artistic period that coincides with extensive farming and political organization. Postcards showing aspects of this Native American culture are not very common; all my friends were happy to receive them and its a nice addition to my own collection.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hudson Valley, New York

a NY State Museum postcard showing a diorama of native people butchering at a flint quarry. While the card text states they are "ice-age hunters" of 11,000 years ago the scene is more reminiscent of the late Archaic when glaciers had melted & receded from the far north, filling lakes, streams & marshes and providing rich vegetation for a complex ecosystem. Later this area would be home to Iroquoian peoples. My collection doesn't have many cards from the NE so this is a very nice addition!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Selk' nam

another great card from Hernan showing indigenous peoples from the southern regions of South America; these photos were probably made around 1900 just prior to their rapid decline from European disease. They may have lived in small family groups, hunting & gathering subsistence and living a fairly non-complex lifestyle.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Taos, New Mexico

this is a fun reprint of a vintage (1959) Taos large letter card sent by a Postcrosser in Albuquerque. Taos is a very old Puebloan community that continues to hold ceremonial dances and celebrations of indigenous culture. Taos is listed as a UN heritage site and I look forward to visiting next time I'm in New Mexico! Thanks to Christine and I hope you will send me more great cards!

San Gervasio, Mexico

a friend/colleague went on a short vacation this summer, spending time in Cozumel Mexico. She picked up some cards for exchange as well as for my own collection. Here is a Mayan site that is located on Cozumel Island and is known for the worship of Ix Chel, a goddess who helped women. The site is dated as Late and Post-Classic, near the end of Mayan social complexity. Another vacation trip is planned to Beliz, so I hope there will be more Mayan cards soon! Thanks Namita.


Another great card from Hernan in Chile. He says the Selk'nam (Onas) people inhabited Tierra del Fuego. Their fur robes look so warm & soft! Sadly their population quickly declined with contact, from 3000 down to 25 in under 50 years.


I have been receiving many wonderful cards from Hernan in Chile, South America showing native peoples. This card features the Mapuche people. Hernan always writes great information about their clothing, jewelry, lifeways and even words in their language. I've learned so much about this tribal group and look forward to what Hernan sends next!

San Andres, El Salvador

I have received some terrific cards showing Mayan ruins in El Salvador. Here is a nice site with a pyramid temple mound, central plaza and other areas for community activities. Thanks to Nomara for adding to my collection; cards from El Salvador seem very rare and I am so lucky to receive them!