Quantcast Beautiful Games: American Indian Sport and Art | Heard Museum
Beautiful Games: American Indian Sport and Art

Beautiful Games: American Indian Sport and Art

Sports have played a pivotal role in American Indian tribal communities; in fact, many contemporary sports are rooted in traditional tribal sporting games. Lacrosse and surfing have long been attributed to indigenous peoples, while other games such as cross-country running, racquetball, cross-country skiing and canoeing, although not exclusive to the Americas, evolved independently. Native athletes quickly gravitated to historic sports like baseball, basketball, football and rodeo, and many American Indians have excelled in modern sports. Tribal communities continue to be heavily interested in and involved in sports, particularly basketball, rodeo and running.

Competing in sports in tribal communities teaches cooperation, consensus, compromise and teamwork, all of which are pillars of indigenous societies. Athletes learn how to develop strategies and solve problems, patience, discipline, perseverance, trust, empathy, respect and control. These games and play were integral in helping prepare young people for adult responsibilities, and assisted in mitigating conflict between individuals and communities alike.

There is also an artistic element to sports, which makes this a natural subject for discussion in that most human of institutions, museums. This exhibit features artwork, artifacts, history and discussions about sports and its role in tribal life.

Participating Artists

Gina Adams
George Aden Ahgupuk
Jamison Chas Banks
Fred Beaver
George Catlin
Marina Eskeets
Daryl Ann Gaco
Jason Garcia
Jeffrey Gibson
Shan Goshorn
Teri Greeves
Carla Hemlock
Donald Hemlock

Brian Honyouti
Doug Hyde
Frank Buffalo Hyde
Jane Hyden
G. Peter Jemison
Raymond Johnson
Randy Kemp
Solomon McCombs
Michael Dean Jenkins
Doug Miles
Patricia Mills
Warren Montoya
Chris Pappan

Summer Peters
Walt Pourier
Jimmy Price
Daniel Sunshine Reeves
George Rivera
Rick Rivet
Diego Romero
Ryan Singer
Isaiah Stewart
Ben Wright
Bruce Wynne
Elizabeth Yazzie
Steven Yazzie

Exhibit-related programs and events

  • Sunday, April 19, 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. — “Sport as Wellness Conversations.” Be there for two conversations on health and wellness as it relates to this exhibit. In the Monte Vista Room. In the Monte Vista Room. Included in museum admission.
  • Saturday, May 1, 1 to 3 p.m. — “Sport as Art.Join Jacob Meders (Mechoopda Maidu) and Jamison Chas Banks (Seneca-Cayuga/Cherokee Tribe of Oklahoma) as they share their experiences as they teach a youth printmaking workshop. Included with museum admission.

Recommended reading

Here is a list of selections from the collection of the Heard Museum Billie Jane Baguley Library and Archives that speak to American Indian athletes and identity through a variety of sports. Visitors are welcome during the library’s regular hours, 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, to view these or other items of interest in the library and archives collections. For more details or additional collection information, search the Online Catalog.

Download a PDF of the Recommended Reading List here.


Beautiful Games Presenting Sponsor:

Contributing Sponsor:

Patron Sponsor:

Janet and John Melamed

Additional support provided by: