Living Treasures: Preservation of the Traditional Artistry and Craftsmanship of American Indians—With An Introduction to the Japanese Government's "Living National Treasure" Program

Cultural preservation is an important issue in nations around the world. It is especially critical to American Indian tribes, for the integrity of their cultures has been seriously damaged by the colonizers. Through federal legislation, Indian tribes are trying to revitalize their once-damaged cultures, especially the intangible aspects of the cultures, such as language, traditional religious practices, and arts.

This paper attempts to describe current federal legislation and programs that are available to help indigenous peoples preserve the traditional artistry and craftsmanship of American Indian tribes. Most of the existing legislation and programs focus on the role the Indian arts and crafts have in tribes' economic development. I believe that traditional artistry and craftsmanship must be given special recognition not only as the sources of economic development, but also as "cultural properties" that are worthy of preservation. This paper will also introduce the Japanese government's cultural preservation program as one of the models of a national effort to preserve its intangible cultural properties.


Mayuko Sasanuma


Tom Holm





Arizona State Museum: 

M9791 S273
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences