National Geographic : 1955 Mar
Ma-Pe-Wi, in His Yard at Santa Fe, + Paints a Buffalo Dance With this issue the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGA ZINE reproduces in full color 18 remarkable paintings by Indian artists. Three are by Ma-Pe-Wi, one of the founders of the contemporary Indian art movement (pages 356, 360, and 371). The work here shown on Ma-Pe-Wi's easel won high honors at the Santa Fe Fiesta exhibit a few months later. Last August the French Government awarded a medal to him at the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial, Gallup, New Mexico. Western Ways, by Robert Zarvell of 1878-79 at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, he had refused an adjutant's offer of "any price" for the book. In the fighting a bullet passed through it, killing the Cheyenne. Later the book found its way into the American Museum of Natural History, New York (page 374). The new Plains art was primarily personal, an individual expression without regard to tradition. It was indeed the first indication of a whole new school of Indian painting, one that was to advance the idea of art sepa rate from tribal needs. At the same time, in the Southwest the Pueblo Indians and the Navajo continued their native arts much as before the Spaniards came. These tribes had no need, as did those of the Plains, to adopt strange media for their painting. However, the artistic urge, and perhaps curiosity, prompted a few Southwest Indians to experiment with untried drawing materials. First Drawings on Wrapping Paper One Navajo youth, attracted by locomo tives that puffed and whistled across the land in the 1880's, tried his hand at drawings with colored crayons on wrapping paper at the trading post. Some years later the first known drawings of Navajo ceremonial figures on paper were discovered by an artist member of an archeo logical camp at Pueblo Bonito, New Mexico, an early site in the Navajo area.* As he entered a trading post, the archeolo gist noticed the pictures drawn in pencil on cardboard box ends. Crude as they were, these efforts fascinated the visitor. He learned they had been done by Api Begay. "Where does he live?" the archeologist in quired. "Over there," volunteered a Navajo, point ing toward a hogan on the horizon. "What does he do for a living?" "He don't do anything; he's an artist," someone quipped. Later the archeologist found Api Begay at 350 his hogan, his wife weaving at her loom, and asked, "Will you make some drawings for me?" "What will you give me?" asked Api, who had learned a thing or two at the trading post. "A dollar and this box of colored pencils." Api was so delighted that he quickly completed his commission-several varicolored * See in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, "Everyday Life in Pueblo Bonito," September, 1925, and "Pueblo Bonito, the Ancient," July, 1923, both by Neil M. Judd.