Plaque, Man in Maze Design

Akimel O'odham (Pima)


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about 1900

Cattail (foundation), weft of willow (tan) and devil's claw (black) coiling technique

Overall: 21 7/8 in. (55.6 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Bequest of Frank C. and Clara G. Churchill



Place Made: United States, North America


20th century

Object Name


Research Area

Native American

Native American: Southwest

Not on view


The objects in this case reference communal and spiritual relationships with the land and particular places. They also demonstrate how these relationships are both expressed through and shaped by creative forms and conventions. More specifically, these items serve as mnemonic devices and are encoded with important cultural knowledge tied to specific sites within the physical and spiritual landscape. For example, although the O’odham plaque and the Diné wedding basket have culturally specific designs, both represent maps of life marked by twists and turns or peaks and valleys.

The birch bark container was made over two centuries ago within the Woodlands region, or the areas surrounding the Great Lakes, and features abstract imagery referencing the cosmological universe of the Above World and Beneath or Underworld. While humans, plants, and animals occupy the Middle World, supernatural beings—like the thunderbirds depicted on the bottom of this container—occupy spiritual spaces but are also able to interact with humans and exert power over the natural world.

What do these objects suggest about the makers’ knowledge and understanding of the environments in which they were created?

From the 2022 exhibition This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World,  curated by Jami C. Powell, Curator of Indigenous Art; Barbara J. MacAdam, former Jonathan L. Cohen Curator of American Art; Thomas H. Price, former Curatorial Assistant; Morgan E. Freeman, former DAMLI Native American Art Fellow; and Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art

Exhibition History

Northern Native American Basketry, Alvin P. Gutman Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, May 4, 1990-October 20, 1991.

This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World, Rush Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 5–July 22, 2022.

Publication History

Tamara Northern and Davina Begaye, Guide to the Exhibition of Northern Native American Basketry, Hanover, New Hampshire: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1990.


Clara G. Corser Turner Churchill (1851-1945) and Frank Carroll Churchill (1850-1912), Arizona, 1904-1907; bequeathed to present collection, 1946.

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