Leon Polk Smith Native American Oral History Project

August 30, 2022
Composite screenshots of three interview participants in a pyramid-grid shape. Top image Jaune Quick-To-See-Smith; bottom left Joe Feddersen; bottom right James Lavadour.

Composite screenshots of Jaune Quick-To-See-Smith, Joe Feddersen, and James Lavadour, 2021. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Project Overview

With generous support from the Leon Polk Smith Foundation and in collaboration with the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, the Archives conducted five oral histories with Native artists in 2021.  These interviews enrich resources for the study of landscape painting, textile art, printmaking, and contemporary Native art.  While the stories told are as diverse as their speakers, each interview attests to the rise in mainstream attention to Native art within the American art scene, as well as to the inseparability of art from communal life and humanity’s inseparability from nature. Amid the current reckoning with colonial and racist legacies, the artists also consistently point to the significance of interrogating the past to enable a just future.


  • Cécile Ganteaume, Curator, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution
  • Nicole Scott, Diné educator and founder of wawascott creative studio
  • Rebecca Trautmann, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution