Monday, December 28, 2015

Cherokee baskets

Santa brought a set of tourist postcards showing the Eastern Cherokee in North Carolina. The photos are old, probably 1960s, but reproduced. Tourists can visit Oconaluftee, a re-enactment site where artists demonstrate traditional crafts etc. Like any tourist attraction it is likely pretty silly in places, but it may also inspire & educate kids. And there are genuine artists employed at such places....Southeastern native women have been making baskets for thousands of years but modern containers have made them art instead of utilitarian craft. Santa kindly brought me a basket as well, made by a Cherokee artist in Oklahoma. Thanks Mr Claus!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


A wonderful card came today from friends in England...
A female gold figurine made by the Quimbaya civilization of Columbia, South America (approximately 600AD). Card text indicates this figurine is hollow and may have been used to hold lime (added to coca leaves). These objects were placed in burials and survived the Spanish treasure hunts. How this little object reached the British Museum is unknown. A fantastic addition to my South American indigenous cards!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Choctaw house

A nifty card just arrived from Oklahoma, featuring a red clay mud & pole house with thatch roof, found in the southeast before Choctaws were relocated to Oklahoma in the 1830s. My friend works with tribes coordinating transportation issues such as road construction and found this card while attending a meeting with the tribe located in Durant. Very nice!!

Alert Bay Memorial Pole

A Canadian friend who is an archaeologist sent a card from British Columbia earlier this summer. She visited Quadra Island's cultural center and saw many lovely masks, rattles and ceremonial items that had been returned to the tribe.
This card shows a carved & painted memorial pole with an interesting history: "This pole in Alert Bay cemetery was commissioned by Mrs Tom Patch for her memorial. Unsatisfied with teht size of the figure's hat she refused to pay for it, and it was abandoned on the beach. Years later some locals raised it at her grave and eventually friends put a tire around the carved hat, enlargening it in accordance with her original wishes."

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Chichen Itza, Mexico

a nice swap via the Postcrossing forum nets me this nifty card sent by folks on vacation in Mexico! Its a fun site to visit...a friend also just visited and swam in the cenote but reports nobody is allowed to climb the stairs to the top of the main pyramid now. Too bad as its a wonderful view from up there!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

2015 Sovereignty Symposium

friends in Oklahoma recently attended a conference discussing various aspects of Native American tribal sovereignty...issues included language preservation, gaming, justice, education, and resource management. A friend sent this wonderful postcard featuring the conference design, thanks RSF!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

NM turquoise

my pen pal Gary in Oklahoma took a nice trip west to New Mexico and shopped at the Laguna Pueblo. Gary and I both love old fashion tourist stuff and a driving trip out west is a great way to experience that even today! He sends a fun card that features some nice old jewelry (look for this is pawn shops but be prepared to pay high dollar). 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

California Rock Art

I received an email from a Postcrosser in California recently...she had noticed a card of an Otoe man that I had sent as an Official and asked about it. The card's image  is from my University's museum's photo collection and I had arranged a gallery exhibition when some of the photos traveled. The Mathers Museum kindly shared postcards of a few images to use for publicity for the event;  I usually give the extras to my students, but occasionally mail a few to Postcrossers. I mailed one to her and in return she very kindly sent this awesome card of petroglyphs carved into the granite of the eastern Mohave Desert. The site is a National Preserve Surprisingly it is hard to find cards that celebrate Native peoples & cultures in California and so this card is a special addition to my collection. Thanks Jeannie!! Its really a super find

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ancient Puebloan tools from Mesa Verde

A nice trade with an American Postcrosser from Colorado brings this interesting card. She had many lovely cards of  Mesa Verde including stone structures, ancient pottery and this unusual offering! This card caught my eye right away and didn't seem like the type  that tourists would buy...featured in the photo are bone awls for sewing clothing, a stone axe, and ceremonial objects. Mesa Verde is a rock shelter occupied by the ancestors of Puebloan peoples 600-1300AD, with the stone shelters built around 1200 (perhaps in response to intrusions by other Native peoples such as the Apache). The site was famously discovered by a cowboy seeking lost cattle; it became a National Park in 1906 to protect the unique aspects and is a popular vacation destination.

Saturday, May 2, 2015


I started a postcard exchange group in Facebook and received this super card from a group member in Finland. It is a Moche head vessel from the Tampere Art Museum exhibit celebrating the Inca and older Native civilizations in Peru. The Moche lived in Northern Peru 100-800AD, irrigating their crops and producing high quality art. Some of their pottery expresses sexuality and fertility, while others are associated with political leaders. Portrait pottery offers images of unique individuals such as this man. Thanks to Katri who enjoyed seeing the exhibit and kindly shared this wonderful card!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Aztec cards

more wonderful cards from the British Museum include

a mask of the creator god Texcatlipoca made with turquoise and shell. He was the primary Aztec deity, celebrated in May. He represents many concepts including night, warfare, shamanism and kingship. He was often symbolized with obsidian (volcanic stone) and mirrors. The museum website offers more info of the object at:

This item was worn as an ornament and is wood, covered with turquoise chips. Snakes were associated with the god Quetzalcoatl and other deities. Turquoise was an important trade & tribute product obtained from the north and was associated with the Toltec, a powerful pre-Aztec society. Aztec rulers favored the color blue. More info on this object and other examples of Aztec turquoise art can be found at:

Mandan dance

Its always wonderful to get cards new to my collection...a dear friend sent 3 purchased from the British Museum's gift store. Here is Karl Bodmer's view of a Mandan dance. Bodmer was a German artist who traveled with Prince Maxmillian on a trip into the American west in 1833. They visited the Mandan, Arikara and Hidatsa, 3 powerful tribes whose economy was based on agriculture and trade as well as hunting. Bodmer, like American artist George Catlin, painted scenes of these communities just before a smallpox epidemic would reduce their populations significantly and leave them vulnerable to the Lakota.

The image may look familiar...before making "Dances with Wolves" production staff closely examined Bodmer and Catlin paintings for details on Native American clothing, ceremonial regalia and weapons. This illustration influenced the bison hunting dance; for more info see Dances with Wolves: The Illustrated Story of the Epic Film, Newmarket Press (1990)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

more great Canadian cards!

I did a trade with a Canadian member of Postcrossing some time back and her lovely cards sat on my desk waiting to be added to my blog. These are nice cards, quite different from the usual ones Canadians are able to find in their shops and they are a nice addition to my collection!!

In the US we have the Fancy Shawl Dance done by young women but this is different and the card offers little information other than indicating these are members of the Ojibway tribe dancing near Thunder Bay Ontario.

A recreated camp scene is featured here...Ojibway women participate in an encampment located at Old Fort William, Thunder Bay Ontario. This historical park celebrates the 1800s fur trade which included blended French/Native families. Ojibway interpreters help park visitors understand First Nations culture including the tree bark homes known as wigwam.


Most of my blog posts are about cards that I have received via Postcrossing, friends and even my own shopping, but this post is about a card I am mailing off. I recently saw a wishlist post on the Postcrossing forum from a European member seeking ancient cultures including Maya and Inca cards. These are not commonly shared in the group as there are few members in Mexico or Peru and not many members really travel to such places. So I decided to offer one of my own cards...I pick up a variety of international culture cards to share with my students and try to have Mayan cards on hand. I had one left in the binder so I will mail it to Lisa and share the fun!!

Tulum is a coastal site north of Cancun and this temple is dedicated to the God of Wind. It is a late-Classic and Post-Classic site that moved salt into the interior.