Date of Thesis

Spring 2019


“A Poor Man’s Riches: Native American Family Portraits, 1940-1985,” examines Native American art from the perspective of cultural and political context. Art historians tend to analyze Native American artworks from this time period through the lens of style, concentrating on the hybridity of “traditional” subject matter and modernist art-making techniques. This thesis closely explores the theme of family as subject matter during the Native Modernism period and links that particular theme in Native American art to specific government policies that affected Native American families. This thesis identifies four anti-family policies: livestock reduction, forced sterilization, the Indian child-welfare crisis, and boarding schools. These four policies resulted in family separation, which in turn had negative cultural, economic, physical, and psychological consequences on individuals and Native American communities. Artists responded to these policies by creating artworks that portrayed Native American families in a positive way, an act that both resisted white dominant culture’s stereotypical view of Native Americans and showed Native Americans their own value.


Art History, Native American Art History, Native American Studies, 20th Century art

Access Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts


Art History

Minor, Emphasis, or Concentration

Creative Writing

First Advisor

Roger Rothman

Second Advisor

Paul Barba