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Indigenous Art Canada: Much More Than You Think!

From paintings to sculptures, aboriginal art in Canada are myriad and meaningful. You can appreciate the original spirits composed by indigenous artists. Let’s read our post “Indigenous art Canada: Much more than you think!” to know more.

Aboriginal Art In Canada


People say that indigenous art in Canada is from 80,000 to 12,000 years ago. Archaeologists found traces of these in the Lower Fraser area of British Columbia. There were decorative carvings, depictions on rocks, and bones. Some of the objects include utensils, effigies, and ceremonial bowls. People have also discovered images on wood and animal skin as well.

Just like other societies, people first made objects for practical use. As a result, they only had a few pieces of purely decorative art. Still, it’s undeniable that these items had creative value.

There are three periods when it comes to the growth of Indigenous art in Canada. The first one is prehistoric art. The second one is contact or “historic art”. And the last is contemporary aboriginal art. 

Prairie Art – Indigenous Art Canada


During the 19th century, prairie aboriginal culture started to arise. It was popular in Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, etc. at that time. Art was also a cross of First Nations and European cultures. Pictures on buffalo pelts were the primary art form.

The Assiniboine, Blackfoot, and Blood were famous for their various and creative painting symbols. These patterns were on their robes and tipis. They also made shirts, dresses, moccasins, etc from deer hide. They decorated it with beads and porcupine quillwork.

Current Developments


In the first stage of the 19th century, Indigenous artistic traditions nearly died out. It was due to the harsh policies of the government. They ran Residential Schools and made further attempts to phase out indigenous art in Canada.

Still, Indigenous art was once again resurgent in the WWII period. Artists combined traditional and modern themes, methods, and symbols. 

The highlights of this time were the artworks of Norval Morrisseau. Morriseau seemed like the native art’s grandfather in Canada. He was the one to establish Woodland Art. Then, he joined the Indigenous Group of Seven. This Group formed the Professional National Indian Artists Incorporation. They tried their best to keep Indigenous artistic traditions alive. They played a key role in proving that Indigenous art deserves a place in mainstream art. Moreover, they created a huge inspiration for a fresh generation of Indigenous artists.

Diverse Indigenous art forms continue to thrive these days. There are traditional pieces such as sculptures, prints, paintings, etc. And even more modern like graphic novels, mixed media artworks, etc. These works reflect current matters but still keep the original Indigenous identity.

Famous Indigenous Artists In Canada – Indigenous Art Canada

Norval Morrisseau


Morrisseau love to use bright colors to describe traditional Indigenous tales. His exhibition in 1962 at Pollock Gallery was spectacular. It made him the very first artist of First Nations ancestry to break through the Canadian proficient white-art barrier. 

Morrisseau then became a nationwide figure. His famous 1968 Windigo and Other Tales of the Ojibways is a legend. It’s still shown in renowned art galleries across Canada.

Daphne Odjig


Odjig’s richly bright and expressive paintings spoke to Indigenous features. During the 1970s, her murals became popular. Her collage Earth Mother was prominently shown at Expo 70 in Japan. 

In 1974, she opened the first Canadian Indigenous-owned art gallery. It became a meeting place for emerging Indigenous artists. Her work after that was, even more, special and practical.

Bill Reid


Reid first studied art in Toronto and London. Then, he returned to Vancouver. Here, he built sculptures that honored Haida culture. His work finally gained international respect. 

Reid created many impressive pieces in his entire art career. The most notable one was the four-tonne Raven and the First Humans. Others are The Chief of the Undersea World and the Spirit of Haida Gwaii.


This national gallery shows paintings from both Indigenous Peoples throughout Canada and around the world. They have gathered creations by Indigenous artists since the early 20th century.

When coming here, you can see many works by the best-known Canadian Indigenous artists. Yes, we’re talking about Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Carl Beam, Faye HeavyShield, Brian Jungen, etc.

So, don’t hesitate anymore! This is a great chance to have in-depth knowledge about aboriginal art in Canada!

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Maris Lopez
Maris Lopezhttp:////
Hey there! I'm Maris, an American girl who is passionate about adventure, the outdoors and all things travel!


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