Native American Culture

The beauty and majesty of nature are exquisitely depicted in the arts and crafts of traditional and historical Native American tribal people. The Native American design elements taken from the natural world are found in all tribes and in all forms of craftsmanship.

Perhaps the very most basic Native American design elements influenced by nature are represented by the very materials that were crafted into goods such as clothing, pottery, baskets, jewelry, and shelter. Even unadorned, the basic design of the most mundane and functional tools are beautiful, with a beauty that is dependent upon the very materials from which it is made.

Perhaps the oldest known evidence of human existence in the Americas is from the stone spear points of the Clovis people. These objects were undoubtedly highly functional, perhaps serving multiple functions. And they were about as basic as possible.

The simple Native American design tools most likely used to make the spear points of the Clovis people were only a hammer made from an antler and the large stone that would become the spear point itself. It’s likely the Clovis craftsman used a cloth of hide to protect his hand when flaking away the rough edges of the stone.

The next step in this most fundamental of Native American design processes was to use sinew from a large animal to tie the spear point onto the wooden shaft of the spear.

Other than the simple elegance of the spearhead itself, there are no extraneous adornments or embellishments used to enhance this very extraordinary Native American design. The simple, perfect, finished product speaks volumes.

Since those Native American designers of tools left so little evidence of their existence, we can only assume today that theirs was a life of constant pursuit of subsistence. But then again, perhaps they found enough pleasure in the beauty of the natural world that they never bothered to create what we would now consider arts or crafts.

As time passed, however, and perhaps life became easier, more abundant, Native American design elements became a bit more complex. Artisans and craftsmen and women began adding decorations such as carving, beadwork, attractive lacing techniques, to the fundamental design of the tools and clothing of the day.

Once enough time passed, Native American designs inspired by nature are found in everything from jewelry to shelter to clothing to weapons. It’s wonderful to see today the significance our ancestors placed on the natural world. Maybe we can follow their lead once again.