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Lesson Plans

Navajo sandpaintings -Reply

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Johanna Gorelick (Gorelick)
Mon, 02 Nov 1998 17:18:09 -0500

While, I think that using sand as a medium is a great idea I think that trying to emulate Navajo sandpaintings may be construed as culturally insensitive. Sandpaintings are considered "medicine" by the Navajo and not "art". Perhaps you could have students experiment with issues of texture, surface, line, color, etc. without making the cultural connection to the Navajo. Like Hopi Katchinas, Iroquois False Face masks, etc. Navajo Sandpaintings are not to be taken lightly or out of their cultural context.

For further information about "proper" Native American art projects, please contact the National Museum of the American Indian's Resource Center - (212) 514-3799 or We'd be happy to assist in any way!

>>> <DaynaB62> 10/27/98 10:31pm >>>
My 5th graders study Native American cultures and last year I attempted a
sandpainting lesson. I wasn't 100% thrilled with the lesson and am looking
for suggestions to improve it.

I have several NA symbol sheets printed up & laminated in a packet. I have
visuals of Navajo medicine man sandpaintings and we discussed radial balance,
symmetry, focal point, and the use of organic shapes to represent ideas....
the difference between the genuine ones and copies....had the kids create a
story or event related to their lives and use a limited number of symbols in a

Next the designs are transfered to a board and glue is added to the lines,
sand is sprinkled over them, and they watercolor over the lines. Other than
pre-mixing colors of sand, how else can this be done?