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Learning Guide
Keeping Traditions

Angie Bulletts is a member of the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians in Arizona. Using traditional methods and materials she creates cradleboards for infants that are used today, just as they have been used for hundreds of years. Henrietta Snype is keeping tradition alive by making sweetgrass baskets like her African-American ancestors. Both artists are working within cultural traditions passed down through the generations. By keeping the craft traditions of their people alive, they are honoring the past and passing their crafts on for the next generation. The activities in this section encourage you to examine the traditions in your own life.

Click here to see Angie Bulletts and Henrietta Snype featured in the Inspirations from the Forest exhibition.

Activity: Writing Project
Discovering Artists in Your Midst

Interview family members and relatives to learn if you have any artists in your family. Your own parents may have talents that you were not aware of, or you may have to go back several generations. Keep on the lookout for musicians, flower arrangers, painters, craftspeople, cake decorators, whittlers, woodworkers, quilt makers, and more.

When you find the hidden artist(s) among your family or friends, interview them. Find out what kind of art they do, what got them interested, how they learned their craft. Perhaps they can teach you how to create art too. Check out the Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History Interviewing Guide to help you conduct better interviews.

After the interview, write a short article about the artist you have found. Pretend you are writing for a popular magazine. Include a photograph of the artist, or a picture of their artwork. Tell your readers how this artist works, and what has inspired her or him. Make sure you share a copy of the article with your relatives too!

Activity: Adventure in Ancient Art
Native American Split-Twig Figurines

Click here to download instructions (PDF) to learn how Native Americans made and used split-twig figurines for more than 1,500 years, passing on the tradition from one generation to the next. Then you can try and make one yourself!

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