Deer in Forest

The Meaning of Deer in Native American Culture

Contemporary Wildlife Art Reflects Proud & Rich Symbolism

Native American art often reflects rich themes, cultural beliefs and traditional ideologies. Artists like John Nieto use artwork to display the dignity, humanity and beauty of American Indian cultures. Nieto’s Southwest wall art and other original paintings depict traditional Native American themes and important cultural figures like medicine men, the wolf, the bear, warriors and more. The deer was also an important animal in certain Native American tribes, and served a symbolic role in daily life.

Some tribes associated deer with fertility. A few traditional creation stories from Mexican tribes, credited the deer as the original parents to the human race. Most tribes in Mexico and the Southwestern regions of the US, revere the deer as keeper of humans. They are also considered caretakers of the earth, so the deer are often held in high esteem and respect.

According to various Native American cultures, the deer had the qualities of gentleness in touch and manner that was calming to the soul. It represented the ability to listen, and reflected appreciation for beauty and balance. In prudence, it understood what it needed to survive, and maintained a grateful attitude. Deer were viewed as selfless and were believed to sacrifice themselves for a greater good. When hunters would go hunting, they would pray to the deer beforehand, promising to not be greedy, and vowing to take only what was necessary for the survival of the tribe.

The respect American Indians maintained for the deer and other animals is clearly demonstrated through Nieto’s Native American art pieces. Bright, vivacious colors give character and dimension to the animal, something traditional tribes did on a regular basis. The painting of the “The Dancing Dear” depicts the playful and graceful side of the deer and adds a sense of humanity to the animal.

John Nieto Fine Art Original Paiting
John Nieto Original Painting “Dancing Deer,” Acrylic/Canvas

Contemporary Native American Artist’s Interpretations

To see more art and animal depictions from Nieto, check out his Bay Area abstract art and Fauvist art gallery online now.  

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