Art as a Reflection of the Created Environment
Bradley A. Finson

Art provides a powerful mechanism through which a culture leaves its imprint on the physical environment. In doing this, an alternate, created universe is constructed which reinforces a people’s sense of cultural cohesion. Art expresses this by actively referencing cosmological elements through aspects of the physical environment. Such was the case among the nineteenth-century Cheyenne and Kiowa peoples on the North American Great Plains. Moving out onto the Plains necessitated the formulation of a new cosmology based on an entirely new corpus of flora, fauna, landforms, and physical resources. (90) The imagery, color repertoires and materials used in men’s art such as painted lodge covers, shield covers, war shirts, and ledgerbook drawings directly referenced supernatural forces that equipped the two peoples to forge new cultural identities and secure their place and destinies.

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