Through Navajo Children's Eyes: Cultural Influences on the Representational Abilities

Stokrocki, M. (1994). Through Navajo childrenŐs eyes: Cultural influences on representational abilities.Ó in Visual Anthropology, 7, 27-67.




The purpose of this article is to describe, analyze, and interpret various cultural influences on the representational drawings of young Navajo students, in order to understand their changing cultural viewpoint. The data and drawings were gathered from two elementary art classes in one Navajo public school in northeastern Arizona, as part of an on-going study. This information is compared to anthropological data gathered on adult Navajo drawings nearly 30 years ago, as well as to some dominant theories on child art. Data reveals students are influenced by Navajo traditional images, classroom teacher's versions of school art, popular art images, pan-Indian influences, and peer copying. Results reveal the persistence of traditional nature imagery, the incorporation of similar schema and color use with mainstream children, a keen ability to render realistic images and space, and the incorporation of those American things that the Navajo regard as "good for them." Keen drawing abilities at a young age appear among the Navajo because of the high status of the arts, traditional education through observation and demonstration, peer imitation, and male drawing competition.


Introduction: Anthropological Views of Navajo Life

In their testing of Navajo children nearly five decades ago, Leighton & Kluckhohn (1947) reported "the frequency of landscape (38%), dwelling (17%), and animal (11%) subject matter in the free drawings of Navajo children" (p. 175). George Mills (1959), a student of the anthropologist Kluckhohn at Harvard, explored the aesthetics of Navajo art by delving into the cultural meaning of form and style in crayon drawings of mostly adult Navajo. Mills noted crayon and pencil drawings, done by Navajo family members, hanging from posts and beams of the hogans. He found that the Navajo predominantly draw reminders of home: the mesas and animals. Mills interpreted Navajo values, based primarily on the psychology of art, by relating art forms to states of mind or emotional worth.

Collier (1967) was the first researcher to elicit Navajo responses to photographs on their life, settings, and relevant persons in the community. Worth and Adair (1972) further explored this method by giving Navajo males 16mm cameras in order to discover how they understood and structured their world on an Arizona reservation. Their primary interest was in noting how the Navajo edited the footage. They were surprised to discover that the Navajo filmed themselves walking for miles. The completed film was a fabrication of Navajo idealized perceptions rather than a recording of the actual world around them. Because Worth and Adair were interested in obtaining a product, based on American realistic cinema, they nearly failed to understand the Navajo way of viewing the world.

Hatcher (1967/1974) found that visual communication studies usually focused on photos and films. She advocated the study of creative visual cognition, the process of how knowledge is acquired: perceived, reasoned, or intuited. She argued, "Visual art is not merely a matter of esthetics, but one of visual developmental ideas, usually conceived in some metaphoric form" (p. 239). She found that the Navajo are oriented more towards their enduring past and holistic values, as seen in their painted landscapes. So what is the Navajo way of viewing the world twenty years later? Perhaps by looking at Navajo children's images, researchers can find evidence of change in representation abilities and cultural influences.



While conducting a three-year study of art teaching on the Navajo Reservation, I studied the context, cultural perspectives, instructional practices, and student responses in one school system (Stokrocki, 1994). This documentation expanded to six sites and 14 art instructors, both Anglo and Navajo. I became more interested in students' traditional and popular culture imagery, which I documented both in writing and photographically. I wanted, however, to understand what and how Navajo children's life changed through their portrayal of "What they liked to do on the Rez." As an artist and art educator, I bring viewpoints, which anthropologists may lack. Three decades of difference in educational acculturation also must be taken into consideration.


Microethnographic Method

Through microethnographic analysis, elicitation, and interpretation, I obtained viewpoints from Navajo elementary children, their teacher, and other Navajo experts. Microethnography is the description, analysis, and interpretation of one small aspect of a culture--art classes. I spent a year documenting the art teaching in this school (Stokrocki, 1995) and previously analyzed and interpreted Navajo children's artworks in a neighboring primary school (Stokrocki, 1993a).

I gathered data for this article by field notes, photographs, participating teachers' clarifications, and some children's informal interviews. Because Navajo children are more reserved and respectful of adults, especially strangers, their oral responses were limited. I solicited written explanations from the children about their favorite activities, which were written on the backs of their artworks.

Interjudge reliability and a review of the literature added to my interpretation. I shared the artworks with my graduate students, while I taught summer school at a local university near the Reservation. Two of the graduate students were Navajo and participating teachers in my larger study and four students were elementary teachers. My resulting explanations are probable claims and limited to this context. Microethnographic experts recommend incorporating local expert opinions (Miles & Huberman, 1984).

Content and comparative analysis occurred by searching for some repeated themes or concepts borrowed from Mills' (1959) and Hatcher's anthropological research; Lowenfeld and Brittain's (1975) developmental research on children's use of schema, space, and color; and the Wilsons' (1982) research on child copying. Since this study is primarily interpretive and generative (of themes and concepts), the use of statistics is not important. Numbers are simply indicated by the numerical format (i.e., 4/13).


Context and Participants

The observed school, recommended for study by the State Art Consultant, is in a farming community not far from the picturesque canyons, mountains, mesas, and buttes in Northeastern Arizona. The school system now has art teachers at all levels, an emphasis in studio art, and drawing as the most popular art form. Before the arrival of the newly certified art teacher, classroom teachers taught art through colored mimeos and cut-and-paste projects, which are still evident in hallways and on classroom walls. I also observed the typical school art symbols, such as suns-in-the-corner, puffy clouds, triangular houses, and lollipop trees in the children's artworks, under the guidance of classroom teachers. The new, female, Navajo art teacher, referred to as W, participated in my second year study (Stokrocki, In review). Her students are bicultural, of low socioeconomic background, and many on welfare. This paper concentrates on their representational abilities.


The Lesson: What I Like to Do on the Reservation

W's main objective in this lesson, taught in the Fall (1992), was to encourage young children to draw their favorite out-of-school activities in order to assess their interests and abilities. W sent me 16 artworks from one third grade art class and 12 artworks from one fifth grade art class. At the third grade level, 10 students were male and six were female, while at the fifth grade level, 10 students were male and two were female. Most children at these age levels usually fall into the schematic stage of development because they are trying to master the conventions of schema, space, and color (Lowenfeld & Brittain, 1975). Some of the fifth graders, however, are in transition towards the next developmental stage called dawning realism. Examples of the students' artwork are included.


A Historical Blending of Cultural Influences

The Navajo, the largest Amerindian nation in population and in acreage, absorbed other wandering tribes and cultural ways throughout their history. Traditional Navajo arts were a mixture of several influences: Spanish weaving and silverwork, Pueblo pottery and basketry, and mainstream trader suggestions. Due to their forced incarceration on reservations and in American schooling, they learned other crafts, such as beadwork and foundry methods. Originally influenced by American traders, the Navajo later developed an expressive tradition in drawing and watercolor painting. This tendency to blend influences may have stemmed from their nomadic wanderings and the high status of art in their society.



Technical Considerations: Careful attack, figures drawn first, and spontaneous conception: According to Mills (1959), technique is the way someone works, that includes attack, care or casual work, and visual conceiving. Mills considers attack as the degree of vigor while working, whether one is assisted, and the preferred type of detached tool such as brush. In his study, the adult Navajo chose crayons with which to draw.

In my study, the art teacher gave students a choice of medium. Most third graders (10/16) used colored markers, but drew details with care in pencil (45min). Fifth graders' chose colored pencils. Their drawings appeared lighter than third graders'. One fifth grade girl, however, took time to blend colors, notably in the trees. Students received no assistance.

The process of adult visual conceiving can be either pre-planned or spontaneous. Usually Navajo artists believe that an idea should be clear from the beginning. Young children, however, work spontaneously by building one figure at a time and adding backgrounds last. The same is true for these Navajo children. Class length imposed limits.


Preference for outdoor activities, especially riding horseback or in vehicles: According to Mills (1959), expression is the rendering one's preferred subject matter. When asked to draw "What I Like to do on the Rez," all students' featured outdoor activities. At the fifth grade level, horseback riding was significantly dominant (6/12). [See composite Figure 1.] Other activities included walking, running (3/12), fishing (2/12), and volley/basketball. These activities mainly evolve from the culture--by herding sheep or cattle with horses or by running with them. The ball playing shows influence from school sports. Worth and Adair (1972) previously noted the persistence of running in their visual anthropological research.

At the third grade level, however, 50% of the students (8/16) featured cars (3), trucks (3), vans, (2), helicopters (2), and a motorcycle (1). In another urban site, Navajo first graders were very excited about their after-school carnival and portrayed the various events. Activity trends are changing with the influence of school-sponsored sports and television commercials (Stokrocki, 1993b).

Male preferences were more active. For example, one third grader drew several actions: bull riding, herding sheep, hunting, fishing, and riding in a car. One Navajo art teacher remarked, "That is one active family. Just look at how that kid bowed his fishing pole and line into the water. The wiggly worm is on the hook in front of the fish." [See Figure 2.] Another example featured picking and eating pinion nuts, which Navajo children love. Female activity preferences were more subdued: cat fishing, showing my horse, and walking the dog. [See Figure 3.] .

A predominance of land: Mills (1959) discovered that the Navajo adults always drew reminders of home, especially mesas and animals, and that they believe drawings should be representational. The land dominates everything and its healthy condition is noted for survival. Adults were more concerned about regress conditions of life, such as the barrenness of land and starving stock animals. Conflict with animals, such as the coyote, snake, or owl, is a second frequent theme.

The majority of third (16/16) and fifth (10/12) graders, in contrast, portrayed activities with complete landscapes, except two fifth graders. Third graders depicted a variety of backgrounds (13/16): pointed peaks, overlapping mountains, rolling hills, the Black Mesa, Round Rock, Window Rock (2), and an occasional butte. All first and third graders in my previous study portrayed landscapes, which were based on the theme "The Place Where I Live." Mills (1959) believed that the Navajo show more diversity in mountain forms--"more interest in curves and contrasts of ground lines than in vegetation, which is sparse" (p.37). The pervasiveness of the symbolic use of land as a dominant motif is frequent in all Amerindian arts (Gonzales, 1989).

One particular third grade example caught the attention of the judges. [See Figure 4.] The drawing included the most traditional images. Portrayed in aerial view was a summer shade shelter, called a "cha'a'o," which included such aerial details as a bed, picnic tables, stove, lantern, and lumber boards. The drawing also featured images in elevation: a (rounded) hogan, a pile of wood, three horses in a corral, and an outhouse (with a person sitting inside on a toilet). The elaborate drawing also included four cars, two people, rolling hills in the background with a half dozen pine trees. Thus, Navajo children persist in their love of land and animals (Leighton & Kluckhohn, 1947). Such subjects were also noted in Navajo free drawings at all school levels (Stokrocki, 1993a). Although differences in age between Navajo adults and children exist, the land theme preference persists.


Portrayal of Space: Multiple Baselines, Aerial Views, Overlapping Forms, Parallel Perspective

Mills (1959) earlier noted that Navajo drawings expand across the page in a series of horizontal ground, mountain, skylines, or bands of color. Judges in my study also found that students used the whole page and multiple base lines at both age levels, except two fifth graders. Judges counted 10 baselines in one picture (See Figure 5) and six baselines in a similar one at the fifth grade level. Fifty percent (6/12) of drawings included the angular forms of nearby mesa buttes. In my previous study, most (10/12) third grader's landscape drawings also featured multiple baselines (Stokrocki, 1993a). Judges noted how one particular example resembled a rug pattern due to its banded composition. This drawing by a third grade female featured deliberate bands of clouds, sun, grounds, and figures. [See Figure 3.] In my previous study, I observed three third grade females line up their puffy clouds in a row. Wilson and Wilson (1982) call this placement of schema in a row "fill-the-format." One girl suggested "the balls in the sky represented rain."

At the third grade level, judges were amazed at the number of aerial views (7/16) of animal and garden corrals (11/16). Corrals are necessary to both keep the animals from running away and keep other animals from eating the crops. [See Figure 2 again.] Five drawings featured cornfields, one of the major crops. Students at this schematic stage tend to show aerial and elevation views simultaneously (Lowenfeld & Brittain, 1975).

Judges also noted plenty of overlapping forms, specifically in six drawings of people on horseback. [See Figure 1 composite.] This finding contradicts Hatcher's (1964/1974) finding that "the Navajo rarely show overlapping figures--they are nearly same size" (p.205).

One Navajo female fifth grader showed incredible parallel perspective in her house (all projecting lines are equal distance), drawn above eye level. Another foldout section appeared at the rear of the house. [See Figure 6.] Even the horse stable was drawn in parallel perspective. Such drawing ability is rare by Navajo females, who traditionally excelled in textiles, while the males mastered and competed in drawing contests. The trend is changing because I photographed examples of elaborate one-point, perspective drawings by females at the sixth grade and junior high levels (Stokrocki, 1993b). Mills (1959) speculated that the Navajo are greatly interested in deep space, although their descriptive ability varies.

Animals (Horses and birds), motor vehicles, and tiny people schema more frequent: Children at both levels represented figures schematically--simple, outlined forms. Navajo children frequently drew such animas as horses and birds. Horses (6/12) at the fifth grade level were dominant. I combined all six horse drawings into one colored-Xerox composite (See Figure 1). The drawings featured tiny riders (transparently overlapping horses) in profile. W informed me that the children tended to draw these images first and the intricate detail testifies to this. Details include: saddles, reins, and cowboy hats. One horse is drawn from the rear view and another drawing included a baby colt. The horse is the most frequently drawn animal at all levels. At the third grade level, however, only four students drew crude horses, and one example featured a tiny horse peeing in the corner of the picture.

The bird schema was the second most frequent animal portrayed. At the fifth grade level, these birds (4/13) were tiny, intricate, and in flight. Examples were bluebirds, ducks, a bird in a nest, and a bird carrying a worm in its beak. Only two third graders showed birds being shot. None of these were the stereotypical "M-shaped" birds. In Navajo culture the eagle is sacred and the most often portrayed. In my previous study, one first grader delightfully portrayed the "eagle-man" schema (Stokrocki, 1993a). Wilson & Wilson (1982) explained that the child conserves form by repeating it. Thus, the eagle acquires a human-like face.

Other animals included cattle, coyote, and bulls (fifth grade), a dead rabbit, snake, fish, cows, sheep, dogs (third grade). All judges noticed the violence in two third-grader's pictures of hunting. Traditional Navajo respect animals and do not feature parts of animals strewn around. It is considered "ugly" (Mills, 1959).

Changing means of transportation--more motor vehicles: Third graders depicted more motor vehicles than horses: (5) pickups, (2) cars, (2) helicopters, a motorcycle, a van, and a cart of pinion nuts. In the fifth grade drawings no motor vehicles are included. The pickup, referred to as a "pony," replaced the traditional horse as the primary means of transportation (Pow-wow Highway, 1989).

Changing dwellings: At the third grade level, 13/16 students portrayed several dwellings: hogans (9), teepees (7), and rectangular (8) and triangular (3) houses. [See Figure 7 for student picture of hogan and teepee.] Three fifth graders showed houses: one simple rectangular house, one typical foldout house, and one sophisticated house drawn in parallel projection. [See Figure 5 again.] Navajo families now tend to live in trailers and single modular houses. The Navajo hogan has become more of a cultural structure, owned by grandparents. One Navajo judge referred to the depicted hogan as male because it had a geometric-designed rug at the entrance. The teepee, on the other hand, is a pan-Indian symbol that is part of the Native American Church. In my previous study, dwellings were the second most frequent theme and most third graders (8/12) drew the typical foldout houses of this stage (Stokrocki, 1993a). The housing schema is changing on the reservation.

A variety of realistic trees and plants: The majority of drawings done by fifth graders (10/13) revealed realistic trees of all sorts; such as, pine and spruce, barren and blossoming. The most common plant was the fanned yucca (2 cases) at the fifth grade. Cornfields (3), fan-shaped yuccas, and apple trees (3) with ladders appeared in pictures at the third grade level. One little girl included some tulips, which are American stereotypical. Trees and plants are scarce on this arid land. Such portrayal reveals high value in preserving nature. Later, W told me that she just completed a lesson on tree drawing. In my previous study, first graders, however, were still drawing the typical "lollipop" tree, conditioned by classroom teachers. The art teacher intervened to show how trees are drawn very differently. The Navajo children may be losing their natural abilities to track natural differences.

Small people depicted. Drawings of people (12/13) in fifth grade artworks tended to be small (9/12) and simple because people are little in relation to the surroundings. [See Figure 1.] Seven drawings also included people drawn from the easier front view. People on horses are mostly drawn from the side view with transparent overlap (6/13). One Navajo art teacher remarked on how the population explosion on the Navajo reservation has encouraged students to add more people to their drawings, whereas in the past, adults and children drew small people. The homes of Navajo families in the Four Corners area of the Southwest are scattered far apart from each other with canyons and mesas in the background.

Schema mostly drawn in contour or outline. Mills uses the word outlining as the process of tracing of a shape or form to create a schema, a simple image. Outlining is traditionally significant among the Navajo in ceremonial dry painting and is the noted way of defining forms among the Northwest coast Indian. The Navajo are considered descendents of these Althabascan-speaking peoples. Mills interprets this frequency of outlining as "a strong emotional response and tendency to turn feelings inward--to contain them" (p. 132). He discovered that many young children trace pictures in a book and color them. They believe it is the way to learn to draw (p. 5). Mills referred to the practice of outlining among older students as a favorite technique in nearby day schools. In my former study, I noticed a third-grade boy, who was finished with his assignment; draw a schematic horse with correct proportions from memory in three minutes. He amazingly drew the contour in one continuous line.

Figures tend to be rendered proportionately. Proportion is that quality of a thing that reveals a suitable arrangement with other parts of whole. In drawing, The Navajo expect horse figures, for example, to be drawn proportionately [realistically] or they consider the drawings ugly (Mills, 1959). In my study, I discovered a wonderfully proportionate drawing by a fifth grader. The drawing depicted a windmill and a water storage tank with a beautifully drawn ellipse top. Even an outlined and proportionate human figure, drawn by a fifth grader, is running in profile. [See Figure 8.]

Use of Realistic Color. Mills (1959) earlier noted the dominance of color contrast in Navajo artworks, for example, by coloring sheep red or green. Contrasts range from harsh to delicate; the latter tendency is more frequent with women then men. In my study, fifth graders tended to use more realistic color while third graders used color emotionally, that is favorite colors, which is true of all young children in art. Color usage among fifth grade students tended to be highly realistic, typical of their age level (Lowenfeld & Brittain, 1975). The ground and buttes are dirt brown (8/12), due to overgrazing and erosion, and the sky is clearly, filled-in, blue (6/12). Three students attempted deliberate shading in their trees. One girl blended orange and green pastel colors for the foliage in her tree.

Third grade Navajo females, as most children of their age, tended to use color more emotionally--with a dominance of pink and orange colors. For example, one picture featured a pink outhouse and red outlined mountains. Another picture had a carnival scene with fantasy colors in the background (female scene). A third example had a yellow sun and bright orange sky (female). And a fourth had a red fence, red rainbow, and bright purple house. Commercial establishments attract young Navajo girls with pink and purple clothes and accessories on and off the reservation, as in mainstream culture. In contrast, judges noted three boys who favored heavy brown, black, and blue markers. None of the children colored in their skies. These findings also show change in relation to Mills' (1959) earlier ones.

Imitation and Recognition Memory. Imitation is a process of copying a model in some form. Although I did not directly witness students copying this time, my judges and I did note several copied, popular art influences. One fifth grader drawing featured a comical character (Figure 9), which one of the Navajo judges called "Mutton man," a popular Navajo comic strip in the Navajo Times. The character resembles Charlie Brown to me. Even the trees in this picture are cartoon-like schema in three different sizes with tree hole on the left side. In my other studies, I observed many elementary and junior high males copying horses from "how-to-draw" books (Stokrocki, 1993a; Stokrocki, 1994). Mills (1959) would be intrigued with the alien influences, which Navajo children depict today.

Judges noted the similar presence of aerial-view corrals (11/16) at the third grade level, two pictures with helicopters, two pictures of crude people shooting birds (Figure 10), and all the third grade girls depicting the same, puffy, outlined clouds. These students probably sat next to each other. In my former study, I observed a table of first grade girls directly copying rainbows and noted several of the first grade pictures featured similar ways of making-snow, rain, corn, and canyon butte patterns (Stokrocki, 1993a). These examples also suggest copying. The primary modes of traditional Navajo education are imitation and observation (Kravagna, 1971). Females learn weaving from their mothers by observation and imitation. Similarly, males learned dry painting from their grandfathers and uncles through mimicry. Mentors instructed with few words (Reichard, 1934). Hannum (1945) documented the remarkable drawing growth of Jimmy Toddy, the Navajo boy artist, whom she first discovered tracing the horse figures on the rocks around the trading post. Even in the public high school, older Navajo children still tend to intensely observe each other drawing, sometimes as long as 15 minutes (Stokrocki, 1994). Peer teaching and copying is highly regarded in Navajo culture, since children have an early sense of independence from adults.

Troeh (1982) also reported that Native American second grade students have a superior power of perception in recognition memory. Recognition memory is a learning tool, which increases the identification of images and increases student retention. Troeh explains that such latent skill stems from young children herding and tracking sheep at a young age. In drawing, this ability may be a helpful tool in rendering images well. Navajo children, who work and play outdoors more often, may tend to observe nature, land, and animals in more detailed ways than do children in the dominant culture.


Further Comparison of Theories on Child Art

For many years, art educators believed that children's drawing ability unfolded naturally in predefined stages as a guide, untouched by adult influences (Lowenfeld & Brittain, 1975). The teacher's role was to motivate by self-discovery and questioning. In contrast, cognitive psychologists at Harvard's Project Zero intensely studied the drawings of preschoolers -- their spontaneous, fanciful, no stereotyped drawings, similar to the work of Klee, Miro and Picasso (Rosenblatt, Winner, & Gardner, 1989). Driven by their modernist preferences, the researchers concluded that the aesthetic sensitivity [and drawing ability] of young children] is both art form-specific and property-specific. They, however, forgot to mention culture and class-specific because most of the children with whom they work are so-called "gifted." They failed to recognize the cultural nature of spontaneous imagery.

My study supports the Wilson's (1982) claim that children's drawing is configurationally-specific, insofar that they draw what they know best and what is readily available--two-dimensional models. They were the first researchers to document children's attraction to and development in drawing popular culture imagery. They recognized the value of young people's copying behaviors, as a primary means of expanding visual sign making. They insist that children be exposed to and imitate great cultural examples and not just popular ones.



The drawings of contemporary Navajo children in art classes reveal the persistence of land drawings, a finding that is consistent with earlier anthropological findings. Portrayed outdoor activities still seem lonesome endeavors, such as basketball, running, or horseback riding. Activity trends are changing with the influence of school-sponsored sports and television commercials. Cultural artifacts and means of transportation are changing schema as well. Pickup trucks, prefabricated houses, and toys, are popular subject matter in Navajo children's drawings, similar to schema and color used by American children. Even their classroom teachers' stereotypic symbols of such as suns-in-the-corner, puffy clouds, triangular houses, and lollipop trees affect Navajo children. They get mixed messages, however, about what symbols are important to draw in school. The Major difference between drawings done by mainstream American children and those drawn by Navajo children is the cultural importance of preserving such cultural themes as land and animals. Certain pan-Indian symbols, such as the teepee and eagle, are also communicated and conserved.

The figurative schema of Navajo children continues to be highly contoured and proportionate, especially in animals and vehicles. They now attempt to portray deep space: multiple baselines, aerial views/elevations, overlapping forms, and even linear perspective. The preference for learning by observation and copying among Navajo students persists because the arts are highly valued by the Navajo culture.

As Navajo adults, Navajo children have fused tribal, pan-Indian, and popular American ideas into their total experience. Such combined influences, however, reflect keen adaptation and accommodation abilities, as the Navajo have done so brilliantly in the past (Mills, 1959). Instead of the metaphor of surrealist collage (Clifford, 1988), a multi-layered metaphor might be more appropriate in portraying the visual cognition of children. A collage suggests no order, while a layering suggests that the baseline of tradition persists while adding different influential layers.



1. This research is funded by an Arizona State University Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities Grant.

2. Differences in judges reactions: In describing the dominant patterns on a roof: the Anglo judges called it Spanish tile, one Navajo teacher called it petticoat frill, and a second Navajo judge called it fish scales. Another cultural difference among the Navajo teachers was the reference to the Navajo Reservation. The participating teacher W did not like the slang term "The Rez," which her children used. The male teachers, who may be less traditional, saw no problem with the term.



Clifford, James. (1991). The Predicament of Culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Collier, John. (1967). Visual Anthropology: Photography as a Research Method. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Efland, Arthur. (1976). School Arts Style: A Functional Analysis. Studies in Art Education, 17(3): 37-44.

Hannum, Alberta. (1945). Spin a Silver Dollar. New York: Viking.

Hatcher, Evelyn. (1967/1974). Visual Metaphors: A Methodological Study in Visual Communications. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.

Kravagna, Paul. (1971). An Ethnological Approach to Art Education Programming for Navajo and Pueblo Students. (Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, University of New Mexico).

Leighton, Dorothea, & Kluckhohn, Clyde. (1947). Children of the People. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lowenfeld, Victor, & Brittain, W. Lambert. (1975). Creative and Mental Growth, sixth edition. New York: Macmillan.

Miles, Matthew B., & Huberman, A. Michael.(1984).Qualitative Data Analysis. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE.

Mills, George. (1959). Navajo Art and Culture. The Taylor Museum of the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center (No place of publication).

Reichard, Gladys. (1934). Spider Women: A Story of Weavers and Chanters. New York: Macmillan.

Rosenblatt, Elizabeth, & Winner, Ellen. (1989). The Art of Children's Drawing. In Art, Mind and Education. Howard Gardner & David Perkins (Eds.) (3-15). Chicago: University of Illinois.

Stokrocki, Mary. (1993a). Cultural Influences on the Drawings of Navajo Students: A Microethnographic View. Journal of Navajo Education, X (2): 12-18. Stokrocki, Mary (1993b). A Cross-Site Analysis of Art Teaching and Learning on the Navajo Reservation. Paper presented at the InSEA [International Society for Education through Art] World Congress in Montreal.

Stokrocki, Mary. (1994). "An exploratory microethnographic study of art teaching in one Navajo public school system: The Anglo view of Running Water." In H. Kauppinen & R. Diket (Eds.). Trends in art education from diverse cultures (pp. 181-189). Reston: VA: The National Art Education Association.

Stokrocki, M., & White, I. (1995). "A microethnographic study of a novice, bicultural, elementary art teacher: Context, competencies, and concerns. Visual Arts Research, 21 (1), 51-62. [Co-authored with Isabel White, Navajo elementary art teacher].

Troeh, Arnold. (1982). A Cross-Cultural Study Comparing Native American and White Second and Seventh Grade Students' Recognition Memory for Familiar and Unfamiliar Stimuli (Doctoral Dissertation, University of Washington, 1982). DAI, 43 (03A), p. 657.

Wilson, Brent, & Wilson, Marjorie. (1982). Teaching Children to Draw. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Worth, Sol, & Adair, John. (1972). Through Navajo Eyes: An Exploration in Film Communication and Anthropology. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.



1. Composite Xerox of images featuring horseback riding, executed by fifth graders. A female student did one of the original drawings.

2. Male, third grade picture featuring plenty of action: bull riding, hunting, fishing, and watching sheep.

3. Female, third grade drawing of walking a dog is subdued in action and the design is banded in rows, as in weaving.

4. Male third grade aerial/elevation view of traditional Navajo structures: "Chaa-o" shelter, hogan, and woodpile. Note presence of trucks and outhouse.

5. Male, fifth grade example of deep space depiction using 10 base lines.

6. House in parallel perspective drawn by female fifth grader.

7. Male, third grade picture depicting traditional images of pinon nuts, male hogan, and Pan-Indian teepee.

8. Tiny, proportioned, figure running in profile drawn by a male, fifth grader.

9. Male fifth grade imitation of cartoon character.

10. Notice the influence of peer copying in two male third-grade drawings, described as "shooting the birds."

Method Note:

Three modes of photographic research are currently used: photographic analysis, elicitation, and interpretation (Stokrocki, 1985, 1988). Photographic analysis is a method of systematic photographic documentation in which individual photographs are sorted, linked in sequence , and described by noting specific components. Extensive notes were taken about who the subjects were and what they were doing and saying. When photographs are taken, they need to be explained by those photographed. Such is the case as with children's drawings. If the explanation of photographs contain contradictory information then that also should be clarified. Photographic elicitation is a technique in which a battery of photographs is presented to participants for their opinion of the intended actions and meanings. Photographs do not possess a language, and Barthes (1981) calls them messages without a code. The researcher provides the language code and the interpretation form the start. Photographic interpretation is a systematic cultural translation used in order to capture the essence and aesthetic of a specific context and its culture, based on the work of Husserl (1931)--intended actions, Merleau-Ponty (1974)--utterances, and Heidegger (1962)--revelations of meaning. Why a photographer views the world in a particular way is uncovered, as well as how, by reflecting on the photographer's intentions and cultural views. Furthermore, this more subjective approach tries to highlight aspects of the time flow, essential actions, important symbols and spatial arrangements arrangements through a photo montage, to discover what is "psychologically meaningful" to the participants.