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[To compare ceremonial masks from other ancient cultures, see: African Art as well as Oceanic Art.]Woodland artists developed a many-sided design of visual decoration that depicted and appeased the supernatural spirits who inhabited the flowers, animals, the sky and the stars.
Animals like the otter and the muskrat became clan symbols, and medicine bags were made from their pelts to appease the essences of Nature.
The encounters between this woodland culture and the first European colonists from the 16th century onwards led in many instances to the complete destruction (by warfare or disease) or removal further west of the woodland peoples.
Once we recognise the nature and purpose of decorative art in North American Indian civilisation, we can respond to the design and symbolism of a whole range of American Indian folk art, including, baskets, blankets, pots, murals, beadwork on pouches and bags, head masks and sculpture.
To put it another way, Native American Indian art was not intended to be appreciated purely for its aesthetics: it had a specific role to play in pictorializing the values and events of the Indian way of life, while serving basic needs like warmth and shelter.
Among the various tribes of the south-east, the Seminoles are famous for their crafts, notably textile art, including doll-making and patchwork clothes.
The plains area of North America extends from west of the Mississippi river to the Rocky mountains, and from the Saskatchewan river in Canada to central Texas.