Navajo Indian silversmith

A Navajo Indian silversmith at work in 1900. Most Native American tribes use Sterling Silver in their jewellery making, a craft introduced by the Spanish in the 1800's. © Denver Museum Digital Archive & Library of Congress.

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Native American Art & Craft

Native American tribes offer an astonishing and unparalleled variety of high quality turquoise and silver jewellery , paintings, murals, pottery and sculpture, rugs and blankets, Kachina dolls and other Native arts and crafts. © Dennis Turner, July 17, 2011.

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Navajo Turquoise Jewellery

Navajo jewellery is set with clusters of turquoise, originally imported from Persia and later locally mined. © Dennis Turner, July 17, 2011.

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Quality Jewellery, Arts & Crafts

Located in the heart of Native America, Gallup, NM is situated just outside of the Navajo reservation and is enriched by the cultures of numerous First Nations, including Zuni, Hopi, Acoma and Laguna Pueblo as well as the Navajo people. The city boasts vibrant native arts, ceremonies, jewellery and cuisine representing its blend of cultures. Main Street of Gallup, NM © Dennis Turner, July 17, 2011.

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Native American Originals

Specialising in Native American Crafts & Jewellery since 1995

20 Years of Experience

Native American Originals began life in 1995 as a boutique Jewellery store in the main street of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. Later the business expanded with a store in a local Arts and Craft market. In 2000 the business moved to the Eagle Street Pier in Brisbane, Australia and has now moved to North Queensland, where it will specialise in providing quality Native American Crafts & Jewellery to Australian and overseas customers via the Internet.

The range of products offered not only includes original Native American Jewellery designs and crafts but also a range of hard to find books on Native American history, life and culture. All of our Jewellery has been authentically crafted by Native Americans, mainly Navajo, Hopi, Zuni and Lakota people. Some of our craft items have been assembled locally, using genuine parts sourced from Native American wholesalers. In all cases the authenticity of the item is specified.

All our prices are in Australian dollars but North American customers should note that the price in US dollars will be considerably cheaper than the AUS dollar price. Often by as much as 30% due to the appreciating US dollar. Our shipping costs are also very low, in fact generally below cost, at a flat rate of $12 per order within Australia or $25 per order if shipped to North America, Europe, Asia or New Zealand. The more you order the cheaper the postage!

Native American Origins

Traditionally, Native Americans are believed to have descended from prehistoric hunters who walked from northeast Asia across a land bridge, formed at the end of the Ice Age, to Alaska some 12,000 years ago. American Indians resemble the people of Mongolia, China and Siberia.

However recent research indicates that the initial settlement of the continent may have instead been driven by Southeast Asians who occupied Australia 60,000 years ago and then expanded into the Americas about 13,500 years ago, prior to Mongoloid people arriving from northeast Asia.

Source: Stefan Lovgren, National Geographic News. September 3, 2003

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Native American Tribes

When the first European explorers arrived Native American tribes populated every part of the continent. The Delaware's, Iroquois, Seneca, Cayuga, Mohawk, Algonquin, Micmac, Shawnee and other tribes in the northeastern part of the USA. The Seminoles, Cherokees, Creek, Timucua, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole in the south. The Spanish explorers in California encountered the Shoshone, Paiute, Cahuilla, and Mewuk and additional tribes.

As the European explorers began to migrate westward they encountered the Ojibwa, Chippewa, Cree, Lakota, Crow, Assiniboin, Blackfoot, Cheyenne and Nez Perce. In the southwest they found the Ute, Osage, Comanche, Apache, Paiute and of course the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni and the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico.

The "Removal Act" of 1830 forced 60,000 members of the "Five Civilised Tribes" (Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole) to relocate to what later became the state of Oklahoma.

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Jewellery making

Jewellery making among some American Indian tribes is a very old craft, but it has changed considerably as new designs, innovative methods, and newer raw materials have come into use. Most American Indian Jewellery is now made by the Southwest tribes of Hopi, Zuni, Navajo and the Pueblo people.

Native Americans were
first taught to work in silver by Mexican silversmiths during the mid-nineteenth century but  learned the stamping of Indian ornaments from Mexican leather workers, rather than from the silversmiths who had taught them.

The Navajo initially made silver Jewellery for themselves or for other Indians. After 1900, they began to create Jewellery for sale as well. The availability of turquoise and silver, together with better silver working tools, enabled craftsmen to supply the growing market among Indian traders and tourists who were arriving in droves by railroad to visit the Southwest.

All of the silver Jewellery offered by Native American Originals was sourced from reservation traders of Navajo, Hopi and Zuni jewelry. We also have a unique collection of bone chokers that were hand made on the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.


 

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Bone Chokers

The bone choker became popular amongst Native Americans in place of longer bone, shell and horn necklaces, which caused problems when hunting and chasing food. Since the choker wraps around the neck, it would not cause so many problems when hunting. Bone chokers were first made from bird legs and they served a very useful function. They provided physical protection of the neck and the jugular vein during battle and fighting. Bone chokers are also believed to provide spiritual protection as the spirits of the animal they come from can provide protection from all kinds of sicknesses.

Bone chokers were favoured especially by the Lakota's, Cheyenne's and Arapahoe's during the second half of 19th century. Occasionally they could be used by members of other tribes too. The use of dentalium chokers is richly documented by period photographic documentation. Dentalium chokers were worn by both, men and women.

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Native American Pottery

Native American pottery is an art form with at least a 7500-year history in the Americas. Pottery is fired ceramics with clay as a component. Ceramics are used for utilitarian cooking vessels, serving and storage vessels, pipes, funerary urns, censers, musical instruments, ceremonial items, masks, toys, sculptures, and a myriad of other art forms.

The Southwestern tribes are unquestionably the ones who have preserved their ceramics heritage the best and, not coincidentally, still live close to their original homelands. Elsewhere in North America, Native Americans were forcibly transplanted to reservations where their traditional agriculture was not viable. Some tribes, like the Lakota, Comanche and Cheyenne, abandoned their farming practices and adopted a more nomadic lifestyle when they acquired horses from the Europeans and were able to pursue the buffalo herds.

However, before European arrival, native pottery was made throughout most of the continent: by the Cherokee and other Southeastern Indians, the Iroquois and other Eastern Woodland Indians, the Cheyenne and other Plains Indians, and the Shoshoni and other Great Basin Indians.

Some artists from these non-Southwestern tribes have recently begun to reclaim their ceramic traditions. Though Native American pottery styles, firing and finishing methods, and decorative patterns varied widely, the basic technology did not. All Native Americans made coil and pinch pots by hand, as their descendants still do today.

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