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Often dismissed by art historians as folk art, the artistic traditions of Native Americans have always played second fiddle to the more dominant Western traditions of painting and sculpture. Even today, when questions of identity, citizenship, and sovereignty play out daily in the national conversation, there is an astonishing lack of representation of Native arts in major museum collections around the country.

In 2015, when the new Whitney Museum of American Art opened its new location in Lower Manhattan, the inaugural exhibition, titled “America is Hard to See,” notably included only two artists who claim Native ancestry: Jimmie Durham and Nancy Elizabeth Prophet. That one of the two artists who fall into this categorical designation is not officially a registered member of any tribe, despite his longstanding claims to Cherokee heritage (Durham), and the other is of mixed African-American and Native American ancestry (Prophet), is an indication of the magnitude of the problem.

To read more on Artsy:

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