Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gunnerson, Dolores A., 1923-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology


Indian art--North American


This thesis considers North American Indian pictographic art as an effort of primitive man to record thoughts, emotions, and events within the context of his native culture. In so doing, it explores the possibility that pictographic art may be either incipient writing or an expression of stylistic and aesthetic form. The interaction of the artist and his society as well as a primitive view of reality are discussed in terms of the functions of North American pictographic art. Basic data are presented in descriptions of Pueblo and Navajo rock art of northwestern New Mexico, and in an explanation of the tradition of recording tribal events of the Plains Indians, particularly the Kiowa and Sioux. Pictographs found on bone and wood are also described. The development of pictographic art as a means of communication is traced from rock art and hide paintings through later ledger and mural techniques to contemporary Indian paintings. This thesis suggests that the strong sense of visual symbolism of Native Americans is the thread that runs throughout the many forms and techniques of pictographic art as it has served to record history, indicate the passage of time, and convey values.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


viii, 141 pages




Northern Illinois University

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