Ruthe Blalock Jones: Native American artist and educator

Laurie A. Eldridge
Dept. of Curriculum and Instruction, Indiana University
July, 2013


The focus of the study concerns life experiences of Ruthe Blalock Jones, a Native American woman who is an artist and educator, and how examining her life stories provides insights for improving teaching about Native American art and cultures in art education in the United States. This case study of the life stories of Jones, who was raised in traditions of the Native American Church and was a daughter of a Roadman, brings to art education two Native American voices; that of a Native American researcher and a Native American research participant. The methodological framework was derived from the writings of indigenous and feminist scholars. Data collection consisted mainly of informal, unstructured interviews augmented by observation and textual materials. Jones' work can be considered as an intersection of religion, tradition, identity, and contemporary art. This study supports previous findings in regards to culturally compatible teaching practices for Native American students, and the importance of Native peoples in asserting ownership to cultural knowledge. This study strengths the case for understanding and respecting the strategy of privacy for protecting cultural knowledge. The study aims to counter negative cultural mediation and provide information that art educators can use to teach meaningfully about Native American peoples, cultures and art forms.