Two Ways to Shop this Holiday Season @ Institute for American Indian Studies

The holiday season is here and, this year it will be more challenging than ever to find a thoughtful gift for that special someone on your list. Not to worry, the Institute for American Indian Studies has you covered at their annual Native American Holiday Arts and Crafts Market. This year, the Institute is providing shoppers with two choices, a visit to the museum to shop in person and an online shopping experience. Admission to the Institute’s Gift Shop and the Holiday Market is free, but capacity is limited in accordance with State regulations, and masks are required.

In Native societies art was integrated into the act of making everyday things, and art objects were often ceremonial. Some of the most famous Native American artists have been painters, sculptors, jewelers, basket makers, beaders, and potters. Native American artists in the 21st-century preserve, present, and represent their culture, heritage, and traditions using a variety of genres and mediums. Some Native artists create contemporary works of art, while others use materials that are more traditional. Some of the most interesting works of art invoke cultural heritage framed by values rooted in a distinctly indigenous worldview and blended with contemporary life.

If you plan to shop at the museum, get in the mood by visiting the Institute’s exhibitions that take visitors on a Native American journey through time with displays of astounding artifacts and exhibits that present information from prehistoric to contemporary time. A highlight is a special exhibit on Trading Posts and Native art.

The Holiday Arts and Crafts Market at the Institute is open Saturday, December 5 and Sunday, December 6, and Saturday, December 12 and Sunday, December 13. If you plan on shopping in person at the Institute, give them a call in advance at 860-868-0518 or email them at to reserve a spot.

In addition to the Holiday Arts and Crafts Market, the Gift Shop at the Institute of American Indian Studies is open and chock full of a variety of items to fit every budget. The Gift Shop offers an excellent selection of Native American jewelry, crafts, artwork, tea, smudge, and books. The Museum and Gift Shop is open Friday – Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 12 noon to 4 p.m. and will be closed on December 24 and 25 and 31 and January 1.

If you can’t get to the Institute in person, visit the Virtual Holiday Market that opens November 27 and runs through January 3, 2021, on the Institute’s website. Here you will find a curated webpage of the bios and contact information of Native American Artists that you can purchase from directly.

Several of the featured artists including Dawn Spears (Narragansett – wearable art, corn husk dolls, and paintings), Vera Longtoe Sheehan (Elnu Abenaki – hand-woven textiles, baskets, and accessories), Brenda Hill (Tuscarora – pottery), Jeanne “Morningstar” Kent (Abenaki – gourd artwork), Sarah Sockbeson (Penobscot – baskets) and Annawon Weeden (Mashpee Wampanoag – jewelry) will do Zoom-based presentations and submit videos demonstrating their work and explaining how they incorporate cultural elements. These programs will be listed on the Institute’s website and will add meaning to the gift items that they are offering for sale.

About the Institute for American Indian Studies

Located on 15 acres of woodland acres the Institute For American Indian Studies preserves and educates through archeology, research, exhibitions, and programs. They have the 16th c. Algonquian Village, Award-Winning Wigwam Escape, and a museum with temporary and permanent displays of authentic artifacts from prehistory to the present that allows visitors to foster a new understanding of the world and the history and culture of Native Americans. The Institute for American Indian Studies is located on 38 Curtis Road, Washington, CT

A Special Collaboration
A highlight of the Virtual Holiday Market is a collaboration between the Institute for American Indian Studies and several Native American artists, made possible by a grant from the Connecticut Community Foundation: a virtual artist presentation series, featuring artists from across the country who might not otherwise be able to participate.

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