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The Winter Art Show

June 2023
1min read

Although flag imagery often appeared in sharp,bright relief on Indian clothing and other decorative items of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the purpose behind this ironic juxtaposition is hard to pin down. The beaded vest shown at the left is the work of a Lakota Indian, the initials at the top are the owner’s, and it dates from around the turn of the century. After that, speculation rules: The grouped flags may represent the Lakotas’ belief in the number four as sacred; the flag may offer protection; it may identify the owner as an ally of the United States. In an exhibit titled “The Flag in American Indian Art,” on view until the end of December at the New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown, embellished gloves, bags, and rugs offer vibrant testimony to the melding of cultures, even as they raise more questions than they answer.

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