Native American nudity

I’m an avid admirer of the female form and most anything connected with art. So when I began my “Indian phase” recently I was surprised to see how sparse material was involving American Indians and nudity, even in art.

I base my reaction on my supposed knowledge of them. I don’t claim to have any real knowledge of Indians, but I know they do not in doctine emphasize beauty in the outward appearance except maybe through dress for dances and such. I also know they in general are people “of the Earth” I guess to say it sustains them and they are not opposed to nature in it’s many forms.

What I’m getting at is that I find there to be some contridiction in there. I find Native Americans to be beautiful people with a unique outward beauty that no other “racial definity” can represent. I wonder how nudity fits into the whole thing, as it would be a lie to say many aren’t topless even now; from what I know, even Pocahontas ran around this way.

I don’t believe Indians are opposed to this kind of thing you see, it only says they do not emphasize outward beauty. And when I do find examples mainly are of the male form. I get implications that women are not equals amongs the indians for the many background roles they are portrayed in pictures with.

I want to understand this aspect of their culture better and I would love any assistance with examples in art or otherwise.

I think the first thing you need to do is to realize that “Native American” encompasses a wide variety of peoples, all with different cultural heritages and moral attitudes. The second thing you need to do is to try to get past the whole “noble savage” stereotype, which you express with comments like:

" I also know they in general are people “of the Earth” I guess to say it sustains them and they are not opposed to nature in it’s many forms."

Author Drew Hayden Taylor actually discusses this very topic in his book, “Funny, You Don’t Look Like One, Too : Further Observations of a Blue-Eyed Ojibway” (sequel to “Funny, You Don’t Look Like One: Observations of a Blue-Eyed Ojibway”) AFAIK there was a calendar released with photos of Native men and women looking sexy, rather like the firefighters calendars out there. Taylor’s books are very thoughtful, humorous and lean towards a lot of Aboriginal political issues; I recommend them. I’ll flip through my book tonight and see if I can find the title of that calendar for you.

Bingo. The American landmasses combined are almost as large as Asia, and certainly the Asians represent a diverse bunch of people. Saying one finds “Asians” attractive would just invite the request for specifics.

I wanted to add something aside from my above post here…

On the contrary. In fact many tribes held women in very high regard, as they were the givers of life. In the past many women were responsible for important decisions within their clan; even today there are many women chiefs, at least here in Canada.

I’m part Cree, so I can somewhat explain the Native “ideals” of beauty to you. Have you ever been to a pow wow, or seen photos from a pow wow? The women dancers there emphasize their beauty through their regalia (never call them “costumes”; this is a derogatory term). Jingle dresses, fancy shawl dresses, etc. are not just something they wear to look pretty, but are reflections of the woman’s heritage, clan and inner spirit. All women are traditionally viewed as beautiful in Native circles, not for her outward apperance but because she is a woman and a strong being. To create and wear something - regalia, jewelery, etc - shows her femininity and spirit and in turn shows her beauty. I’m not sure if this will make sense to you or not. You kind of have to live it to really understand it. Essentially, what it boils down to is that Native beauty is generally not been based on the nude body.

That’s not to say there aren’t Native people out there who use their bodies to their advantage. I remember seeing a photo of a pretty hot Indian guy once in a gay mag. All he was wearing was leather breeches and a bone choker. :wink:

Funny, I’d’ve thought choking on bone was something a gay magazine would try to downplay.

Was he standing next to a fireman and a policeman? :smiley:

Hey, hey hey!

This isn’t a topic I know a lot about, but it seems like this is something that would depend a whole lot on climate. The tribes that **AFG **is referring to in Canada aren’t likely to go around topless because it’s COLD. Whereas there are probably tribes in more temperate climates where both men and women wear very little. These types of things get worked into one’s culture, and traditions are built around the need for clothing or lack of it, but it seems that it would stem from what’s practical.

I think what the OP was asking (though not very clearly…so correct me if I’m wrong) is, are Native Americans ever represented nude in art? I don’t believe I’ve seen any in artistic renderings of prior centuries. They may now, as the rest of the modern world does, but I can’t say as I’ve seen any.

Where I grew up you would get a fairly good amount of wood carvings of naked Indian ladies. And my grandmother painted Indians quite often; I believe I recall a few nudes there as well (above the waste) but mostly males.

Doing a google reveals that nekked Native American women do appear to be the one fetish in the entire world that is unanswered. I did find a swimsuit calender though, if you search for Rez Dog.

But the only Native American lady I ever knew was a friend’s mother, and I’m not sure I ever actually met her. In fact, outside of children, I have no clear memory ever seeing any Natives where I lived, even though we were in the same school area. I imagine that is the problem right there: Most porn publishers are white, don’t live out in the middle of nowhere, and even if they did would still be unlikely to come across a lot of Native lasses just because they’d be white and not living in the right area.

A google on '“nude aztec art” turns up references (though I’ve not yet found an image) to a nude known commonly as the “Venus de Texcoco”. I’d guess that the large empires of Central and South America, with agriculture and cities, definitely did have nude art but not much of it survives (possibly, though this is speculation, due to Spanish vandalism and looting). I also tried preliminary searches on Maya, Olmec and Inca, but I can’t find anything particularly spectacular.

The more nomadic tribes scattered across North America are less likely to have created sizable works of art for the simple reason that they’d then have to lug it around.

If you cut two holes in the Land O’ Lakes butter package, and fold it over, it looks like the indian chick is holding her tits.

Oh, good lord, coffee all over my keyboard! :stuck_out_tongue:

I can do that without cutting holes in anything! (sorry, no pics) :smiley:

Ooook, got my book out. Sorry, the reference I mentioned was actually from his first book, not his second. Guy has too many damn sequels.

He doesn’t name the calendar, but he does give the names of two Native women who have gotten into the porn industry - Jeannette Littledove and Hyapatia Lee.

The December (1998, I believe) edition of Playboy also featured a woman on the cover named Danielle House, who emphasized her Aboriginal heritage in the issue. The Playmate of the Month is another Native, Karen McDougal, who he says “proudly handles a dog team and sleigh stark naked, except for the fur boots and hat”.

Now, those examples are much more in the erotic than the artistic vein, if that’s your thing. But they are examples of Native American nudity in mainstream culture.

If you want to read further on it, I recommend checking out the book.

Well, Thanks for the all the lovely pictures of American Indian girls folks, but as much of the guy in me that likes that kind of thing. I still have the legimate question of how the Native crowd view beauty. I read some of what the ladies from the above mentioned calendar said and while they may not be “on the pulse of their heritage” they also said they didn’t consider it exploitive and saw it as possible opportunity. …hmm, I already know what that sounds like… but what I’m trying to say is.

Art and photography are not usually exploitive, they seek to document things just as they are. How could anyone from any spiritual background be against the preservation of the very thing they are so proud to stand for?

I discovered R.C. Groman through my continued research on the topic and he was “billed” as one of the first artists to do works of indians nude. Nothing to be excited about of course when you see his typical style, but you’d think it was a pretty big deal based on what you see in type.

And as for my belief in the “noble savage” there are plenty indians still left that live like this. I know the reality of casinos and government checks as well, I’m just sayin’ for the record… it’s nothing to be smug about, just because I leave myself open trying to understand what I don’t know yet.

The “pornographic” side is interesting also, but I’m sure the purist indians that are left probably disowned these types a long time ago.

I appreciate the book recommendation AFG and I’ll look into it.
And btw, I was doing that Land’O’ Lakes girl trick in High School, get some new material, lol.:stuck_out_tongue:

Where are the links to naked Native American women?

Though the tribes that AFG was talking about may have lived in COLD Canada, the tribes around here lived in NOT ALWAYS COLD AND USUALLY JUST KINDA GREY AND RAINY Canada.

There was a bit of an issue raised a few years ago regarding four murals in BC’s Legislature building, in Victoria. The murals had been done in the 1930’s, and featured topless First Nations women, as well as men who some thought were in “subservient” positions to the white guys in the picture. About five years ago (?), it started a bit of controvesy, some of it over the depiction of the roles of the First Nations people, some of it over the “Omigod we want to take kids here for schooltrips but BOOBIES! Someone think of the children!”. As you can maybe tell, I do agree with the first point that it’s not really progressive to show those relationships as if they still existed that way, not so much with the second point that people who were probably topless should not be shown as topless.

I’ve noticed this as well amaranta. It was what I was trying to say above; although it is in no way my aim for my post- just an innocent observation. Many Indian women depicted in art are shown performing these roles although I’m sure they are ignorant people in regards to indians and most of such pictures look more like white people with a feather and a loin cloth with close to no Indian facial features. But even Native American artists depict women: painting pots, preparing food, nursing kids which in some bizarro world kinda way, seems to come close in my mind like women of the 40’s and 50’s.

Surely these women of this era were hugely important to the family balance, no one questions that, but it “paints” (pardon the pun ) a one-sided image of Native American indians (some works I’m betting were not exclusively American indians)

If there’s a female Indian chief out there, then paint some; take a picture- something. I’m just saying the art I see (in very limited supply) is quite traditional, tribal art, reflectant of heritage and this is fine, but it’s as if the indian people have not gone through a stage of independance from themselves based on what I can find; like there are no indians (especially women)that are true to their roots and think beyond “the old ways” and that is just not accurate. I’m looking for “proof of accuracy” and not just a few exceptions to the rules; something more than that.

But let’s face it, more people reading this board are here to read about nudity or like TLR are here to see some. And if I can get to bottom of that answer because it draws attention then** Indian nudity** is my topic. :smiley:

I’m not so different, but there is just a side of me that isn’t going to shut-up until I get some answers and the big flaw in this plan is that we are mostly a bunch of white people sitting around trying to discuss how American Indians think. Well, ok that makes it two flaws… but you get my point…:slight_smile:

I saw this thread when you first posted it, and a particular painting came to mind, but because I couldn’t for the life of me remember enough about it to find it online I didn’t post. But since you’re now asking for non-traditional wife/mother/workhorse portrayals of naked Native American Indians, and the painting I’m thinking of fits the bill, I’ll go ahead and describe it and perhaps someone else can ferret it out.

I believe it was from the 1800s, or early 1900s. It was a painting of Mesa Verde (or a site like it) and had some Indians working and doing their usual stuff. In the foreground on the right side of the painting there is a young woman sitting on the edge of the roof of one of the buildings. She is topless and has a drum and drumstick sitting next to her. The name of the painting was something like “Lookout” or “The Lookout” and basically she was keeping watch. I remember it because it was one of the first nude paintings I ever saw. It was in a book, but I don’t remember what the book was.

Also, it was painted by a non-Indian artist. Hope that helps.

Here in Oaxaca we have the Fountain of the Seven Regions, with more-than-lifesize statues of women from each region in their traditional attire; three of the seven are topless.
On a slightly different note: I was up in Mexico City last week, walking with my kids back to our hotel off of Insurgentes Avenue, and came upon one of the many tent villages set up by protesters of one or another government outrages, at the intersection of Insurgentes and Reforma, in other words as central as you can get. Around the base of the monument there were standing about thirty obviously Indigenous (they don´t like being called Indians) women, mostly middle age, and all absolutely stark naked, except for some paint, which I think was letters of some words about their protest. I didn´t want to stare at them, especially since no one else was, so I couldn´t make out what the letters said. (The protest in general was about the extreme corruption of the last three PRIista governors of Vera Cruz, and IMO totally justified). What this says about Native American attitudes towards nudity I´m not sure, but I was highly impressed by the dignity the women wore in lieu of clothing.