Indian Hunters and Rice Gatherers (Study for St. James, Minnesota Post Office Mural)

  • Margaret Martin, Indian Hunters and Rice Gatherers (Study for St. James, Minnesota Post Office Mural), 1939, oil on fiberboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the General Services Administration, 1985.8.20

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Margaret Martin’s mural proposal for the St. James, Minnesota, post office showed Indians gathering wild rice, hunting fowl, and fishing, emphasizing the harmony between the Land of 10,000 Lakes and its earliest inhabitants. Martin took nine months to complete this work, which has hung in its original location at the post office since June 1940. In the mural, a woman uses sticks to harvest the rice from the stalks, while a man hunts birds with his bow and arrow and another prepares to spear a fish from the stream. This mural would have served as a testimony to the abundance of the land, the value of living on it wisely, and lessons to be learned from its first people. Martin’s image reflects the sympathies of many WPA muralists, who openly expressed the need for images of Native Americans in their New Deal murals. One of Martin’s fellow WPA artists argued that “a reminder . . . to anyone of us of the life in this country that preceded ours can do no harm, especially since that life, in its simplicity and harmony with nature, can be a lesson to us in many ways.” (Park and Markowitz, Democratic Vistas: Post Offices and Public Art in the New Deal, 1984)

Title
Indian Hunters and Rice Gatherers (Study for St. James, Minnesota Post Office Mural)
Artist
Date
1939
Location
Dimensions
16 3/4 x 36 5/8 in. (42.6 x 92.9 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Transfer from the General Services Administration

Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on fiberboard
Classifications
Keywords
  • Figure group
  • Occupation – farm – harvesting
  • Occupation – industry – fishing
  • Occupation – hunter
  • Architecture – boat – canoe
  • Occupation – domestic – gathering
Object Number
1985.8.20
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI