Gilcrease Museum is temporarily closed for construction.

Get the Full Story

About the Indigenous Paintings

Gilcrease Museum’s collection of Native American paintings and drawings spans more than 150 years of visual expression, and includes nearly 2,500 works on a variety of mediums including hide, paper, and canvas. It embodies the wealth of artistic, aesthetic, and stylistic diversity of the thirty-nine federally recognized tribes of Indian Territory, as well as Indigenous nations across the United States. These artworks continue a lineage of storytelling, of oral histories that pass on knowledge, lived experiences, the cosmological. They represent the great diversity, resilience, and adaptability of Indigenous art and culture, which has constantly incorporated a range of influences and materials in order to preserve and disseminate what were and are important values: the land, the people, and the long-standing relationships that have shaped the world. 
Of these 2,500 works, 1,500 were chosen for focused research. From this group, 80 paintings by 47 artists that represent various aspects of the collection were selected for additional examination and analysis, all with the objective of promoting a greater understanding of the vast canon of Indigenous art. Genre works, some in the Indigenous style known as Flatstyle, capture important moments as well as day-to-day life. Some scenes portray pre-colonial pastimes such as bison hunting; others show the impactful consequences of colonialism, including representations of the Trail of Tears. There are also landscapes, portraits, and abstracts. 

See all 1,500 Indigenous paintings included in the Henry Luce Foundation project.