Celebrating Native American Culture With Rugs, Shoes and Jewelry

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Native American culture, like most other cultures, is full of traditions. In the United States alone, there are 566 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages. Each has their own culture, language, and history. They also have unique traditions of dress, food, and housing. So “Native American” culture has numerous, distinct, subcultures. Native American culture was near wiped out by horrific European conquest. Individuals underwent forced relocation, exposure to foreign diseases, warfare with broken treaties, starvation, and shaming of their cultural identity. However, thankfully some survived. Here are a few traditional Native American items to celebrate the vibrancy and strength of Native American communities who have resiliently fought for their culture.


Navajo Rugs

Navajo weaving is an age-old technique, originally used by the Navajo tribes in the Four Corners region of the United States. Original Navajo textile pieces are highly sought after. However, commercial reproductions have been an important factor in modern day Navajo economy. Originally used for capes, saddle blankets, cloaks, and dresses, the weaved fabric is multipurpose and flexible. Consider investing in beautiful, Navajo rugs for your home. However, avoid foreign reproductions. These may be cheaper, but they lack authenticity. Modern Navajo rugs are a luxury item, noted for their high prices. But the quality and design are inimitable and worth every penny. Remember, you get what you pay for, so make sure to value the quality of a Navajo rug before purchasing.


Moccasins

Moccasins are the customary shoes that were worn by Native American tribes. The name derives from “Makisin,” an Algonquin word. The color and style of moccasin shoes varied from tribe to tribe. The sole and upper of the shoe is all in one piece, so they slip on comfortably. They would have been sewn and secured with strong and hardy sinew or buckskin. Traditional moccasins were made from deerskin or other soft leathers. However, there are plenty more humane and cruelty-free materials available nowadays. Both men and women wore these shoes but designs varied depending on the occasions for which the shoes would be worn. Ceremonial shoes featured more elaborate design and detailing. Hunting shoes, on the other hand, would be more simple and practical. Moccasins are widely available today and are a great addition to any wardrobe. They are a comfortable and beautiful piece of footwear.


Jewelry

Native American jewelry is some of the most beautiful that you could imagine. The materials and craftsmanship involved in their creation produce stunning pieces. They can be worn for all sorts of occasions. For example, some of the world’s most desirable turquoise jewelry is produced by the Native people of South West America. Arizona and New Mexico in particular. Turquoise is often combined with silver. Another beautiful form of jewelry is the “wampum.” These are cylindrical, white shells from whelks and purple quahog shells. These were originally used as a form of currency, but would also be used to create lovely necklaces, bracelets, and rings. Large, round shells would be used to create “moons.” These are pendants and were a highly valued adornment.

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