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Knowledge about Native Americans

Gail Bird

Gail Bird was born in March 30, 1949 at Oakland, California. Her father, Tony Bird, was from Santo Domingo Pueblo and her mother, Andrea, was from Laguna Pueblo. Tony worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad and her mother worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs Inter-Mountain Indian School in Brigham City, Utah. She met Yazzie Johnson at the school at age 12. After high school, Bird studied at University of California Berkeley and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

To many, they are best known for the thematic belts they make each year (since 1979) for the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) Santa Fe Indian Market, but they also design elegant earrings, bracelets, rings and necklaces which are shown in galleries and museums across the country. They are part of a generation of American Indian artists from the Southwest who have acknowledged and honored the traditions of their respective areas while pushing the creative boundaries and addressing contemporary concerns. Their work is characterized by an extensive knowledge of materials and by their technical skill and keen design sense Bird and Johnson emphasize: "We see our jewelry as being very traditional in nature. But we carry the traditions further. The stones we use are of a wider variety than those usually associated with Indian jewelry. The symbols and narrative on our pieces are expansions of traditional symbols and stories."

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