Native American Reference Library at Horsekeeping LLC

There are many good reference books on Native American topics that prove valuable when researching items in the estate lots that come into our store. Starting with a handful of essential hallmark books, our reference library has grown !

Below my signature at the end of this post is a list of many (but not all) of the books in our reference library.

Some we reach for every day, others only when a unique question comes up.

I reach for this 3 Volume set regularly – Zuni, The Art and the People

I’ve organized the books in my list by categories so that I can find them easier when I need them – that’s what the headings and abbreviations refer to.

As usual, comments are welcome. If you post in the comment section at the end of this article, other readers will be able to see what you have to say. Let us know if you have read any of these books – which are your favorites, which might have misinformation, which ones are trusted.

I am continually on the lookout for books to add to the reference library and that results in me (more often than I’d like to admit) purchasing the same book twice! Have you ever done that? That’s the main reason I made up this book list  – so I can see at a glance what is in the library.

Once a year I go through the entire library to find the duplicates. Click on the book below to go to the page of extra books we have for sale right now.

Used Native American books for sale

 

Paula

HORSEKEEPING LLC – NATIVE AMERICAN REFERENCE BOOK LIST

ARTS AND CRAFTS

AC Guide to American Folk Art of the Southwest – Lamb

AC Native North American Art – Berlo

AC Navajo Arts and Crafts – Schiffer

AC North American Indian Artifacts – Hothem

AC Southwest Art Defined – Booker

FETISH

F Guide to Zuni Fetishes and Carvings – Lamb

F Guide to Zuni Fetishes and Carvings Vol 2 – McManis

F Native American Fetishes – Whittle

F Spirit in the Stone – Bahti

F Zuni Fetish Carvers McManis

F Zuni Fetish Carvers of the 1970s McManis

F Zuni Fetish Carvings Finkelstein

F Zuni Fetishes 1966 – Cushing

F Zuni Fetishes 1999 – Cushing

F Zuni Fetishes and Carvings First Edition 2004 – McManis

F Zuni Fetishes and Carvings Second Edition 2010 – McManis

F Zuni Fetishes– Bennett

F Zuni Fetishism – Kirk

FRED HARVEY

FH Fred Harvey – Armstrong

FH Fred Harvey Jewelry – June

FH Inventing the Southwest Fred Harvey Company – Howard

FH Native American Curio Trade in NM Battin

HALLMARKS

HM American Indian Jewelry I II and III Schaaf

HM Hallmarks of the Southwest – Wright

HM Hopi Silver – Wright

HM Little Book of Marks on Southwestern Silver – Hougart

HM Native American and Southwestern Silver Hallmarks – Hougart

HM Reassessing Hallmarks of Native Southwest Jewelry – Messier

HOPI

H Book of the Hopi – Waters

H Hopi Following the Path of Peace

H Loloma

H Spider Woman Stories – Mullett

H Truth of a Hopi – Nequatewa

KACHINA

K Hopi Kachina Dolls – Colton

K Hopi Kachinas – Wright

MEXICAN

M Mexican Jewelry – Davis and Peck

M Mexican Silver & Hallmarks – Hougart

M Mexican Silver – Morrul and Berk

NATIVE AMERICAN JEWELRY

NAJ Beesh Ligaii in Balance The Besser Collection – Torres-Nez

NAJ Collecting Southwest Native American Jewelry – Bahti

NAJ Evolving Southwest Indian Jewelry – Schiffer

NAJ Fine Indian Jewelry of the Southwest Millicent Rogers Museum Collection – Tisdale

NAJ Generations The Helen Cox Kersting Collection – Nottage

NAJ Guide to Indian Jewelry of the Southwest – Simpson

NAJ How to Invest in Indian Jewelry – Gillespie

NAJ Indian Jewelry Fact and Fantasy – Lund

NAJ Indian Jewelry of the American Southwest – Turnbaugh

NAJ Indian Jewelry on the Market – Schiffer

NAJ Indian Silver Jewelry of the Southwest 1968-1930 – Frank

NAJ Jewelry by Southwest American Indians – Schiffer

NAJ Masterworks and Eccentricities The Druckman Collection – Bauver

NAJ Native American Art 2018 Magazine

NAJ Native American Bolo Ties – Pardue

NAJ Navajo Jewelry A Legacy of Silver and Stone – Jacka

NAJ Navajo Silversmith Fred Peshlakai: His Life & Art

NAJ Silver and Stone – Bahti

NAJ Skystone and Silver – Rosnek

NAJ Southwest Indian Silver from the Doneghy Collection – Lincoln

NAJ Southwest Silver Jewelry – Baxter

NAJ Southwestern Indian Bracelets – Baxter

NAJ Southwestern Indian Jewelry 1992 – Cirillo

NAJ Southwestern Indian Jewelry 2008 – Cirillo

NAJ Southwestern Indian Rings – Baxter

NAJ What You Should Know about Authentic Indian Jewelry – Conroy

NAVAJO

NAV Navajo English Dictionary – Morgan

NAV Navajo Indian Myths – O’Bryan

NAV Navajo Taboos – Bulow

NAV Navajo Walking in Beauty

NAV The book of the Navajo – Locke

NAV The Navaho – Kluckhohn and Leighton

NAV The Navaho – Watkins

PLAINS

PL American Buffalo – Rinella

PL Black Elk & Flaming Rainbow – Neihardt

PL Fools Crow – Mails

PL Healing Power of Horses – Lessons from the Lakota – Baker

PL Indians of the Plains – Lowie

PL Keep Going – Marshall III

PL Lakota Belief and Ritual – Walker

PL Lakota Seeking the Great Spirit

PL Lame Deer Seeker of Visions – Lame Deer and Erdoes

PL Madonna Swan – St. Pierre

PL Offering Smoke – Paper

PL Red Horse Owner’s Winter Count – Karol

PL Stories of the Sioux – Standing Bear

PL The Journey of Crazy Horse – Marshall III

PL The Sacred Pipe Black Elk – Brown

RUGS

R Guide to Navajo Rugs – Lamb

R Guide to Navajo Weaving – McManis

R Navajo Weavings – McManis

R Weaving a Navajo Blanket – Reichard

REFERENCE

REF Antique Jewelry Warman

REF Dictionary of the American Indian

REF Encyclopedia of Native American Jewelry – Baxter

REF Field Guide to Southwest Indian Arts and Crafts – Page

REF Idiots Guide to NA History

REF Indian Jewelry of the Prehistoric Southwest – Jacka and Hammack

REF Jewelry and Gem Buying Guide Matlins

REF Jewelry of the Prehistoric Southwest – Jernigan

REF Jewelry Warman

REF Native American History – Nies

REF North American Indian Jewelry and Adornment – Dubin

REF Rocks, Gems and Mineral

REF The Earth Shall Weep – Wilson

REF Warman’s Jewelry Price Guide

SILVER

S Indian Jewelry Making Vol 1 and 2 – Branson

S Indian Silver – Navajo and Pueblo Jewelry – Bedinger

S Indian Silver Vol 2 – King

S Indian Silversmithing – Hunt

S Indian Silverwork of the Southwest, Illustrated Volume One and 2 booklets – Mera

S Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths – Adair

S Navajo Silver – Hegemann

S Navajo Silver , a brief history of Navajo Silversmithing– Woodward

SYMBOLS

SYM American Indian Design and Decoration – Appleton

SYM Field Guide to Rock Art Symbols Patterson

SYM Heart of the Dragonfly Birt

SYM Picture Writing of the American Indians 1 & 2

TURQUOISE

T Arizona Highways Turquoise Blue Book

T Jewel of the Southwest – Turquoise – Osburn

T Turquois Pogue

T Turquoise and the Indian – Bennett

T Turquoise Jewelry – Schiffer

T Turquoise Jewelry of the Indians of the Southwest – Bennett

T Turquoise Mines Mineral and Wearable Art – Block

T Turquoise The Gem of the Century – Branson

T Turquoise The World Story of a Fascinating Gemstone – Lowry

T Turquoise Trail – Karasik

T Turquoise Unearthed – Lowry

TRADITIONS, MYTHS, and RELIGION

T&M American Indain Ceremonies

T&M American Indian Stories – Zitkala-Sa

T&M Animal Speak – Andrews

T&M Encyclopedia of Native American Healing – Lyon

T&M Hisoric Books Detailing Native American Indian Religions – DVD

T&M Indian Legends – Clark

T&M Native American Dance

T&M Native American Mythology Gill & Sullivan

T&M Native American Myths and Legends Taylor

T&M Native American Traditions – Versluis

T&M North American Indian Mythology Burland

T&M Southwestern Indian Ceremonials

T&M The Sons of the Wind – Dooling

T&M The Spirit of Indian Women – Fitzgerald

T&M The Voices of the Winds – Edmonds and Clark

T&M The Wind is My Mother – Bear Heart

T&M The Wisdom of the Native Americans – Nerburn

TRIBES

TR America’s Indian Background – Walker

TR American Indians of the Southwest Dutton

TR Enclyclopedia of Native American Tribes – Waldman

TR Encyclopedia of Native American Indians – Hoxie

TR Encyclopedia of North American Indians – Ciment

TR Native American The Pueblos Erdoes

TR The North American Indian Images – Curtis DVD

TR The Story of the Cherokee People – Underwood

ZUNI

Z Figural Designs in Zuni Jewelry – Sei

Z Hopi Bird and Sunface in Zuni Jewelry – Sei

Z Kachinas and Ceremonial Dancers in Zuni Jewelry – Sei

Z Knifewing and Rainbow Man in Zuni Jewelry – Sei

Z Whos Who in Zuni Jewelry –

Z Zuni Jewelry – 3rd edition – Bassman

Z Zuni, A Village of Silversmiths – Ostler

Z Zuni, the Art and the People, Vol 1, 2 3 – Bell

Z Zunis, The by Zunis

 

MORE BOOKS SUGGESTED BY READERS……..

Ray Manley’s Portraits and Turquoise of Southwest Indians” with text by Clara Lee Tanner.

Native American Jewelry Authentication Resources – Buyer Beware

This necklace fooled a lot of people, including the savvy collector who bought it years ago as well as several dealers in the business for over 40 years. It is not Native American made – it was made in the Philippines.

 

BUYERS

If you are thinking of purchasing a piece of vintage or contemporary jewelry and you assume or are told by the seller that it is Native American made, before you plunk down the cash, I encourage you to read through this article to find ways to authenticate the piece.

ebay has some very good sellers and can be a great place to shop but it is also loaded with counterfeit items and misrepresented pieces. BUYER BEWARE !

This is especially important if you are considering purchasing on eBay, etsy or one of the Native American warehouse type sites. While there are many educated, experienced, honest sellers on the internet, there are also those who either  A. don’t know or B. intentionally misrepresent. The latter type of seller really confuses things for everybody. So buying Native American jewelry on eBay or other auction sites is definitely a case of Buyer Beware.

SELLERS

I know there are many long-term, experienced and honest sellers of Native American jewelry around. So this information is not directed at you. The intent is to help new and inexperienced sellers of Native American jewelry.

If you are new to the Native American jewelry arena, know that if you are describing a piece as Native American made, you have a legal responsibility to be sure that it is authentic. These resources are provided to both serve your customers AND protect you as the seller.

Your reputation depends on satisfied customers and honest transactions. It doesn’t take long for word to get around if you are trying to pull a fast one to make a bigger sale through misrepresentation. And using “I didn’t know” doesn’t cut it. As a seller you are legally obligated to accurately represent the authenticity of an item. If you don’t know, take a deep breath, say you know don’t know and most importantly, don’t call it Native American.

NATIVE AMERICAN MADE OR NATIVE AMERICAN STYLE?

There is

A. authentic Native American made jewelry

B. counterfeit jewelry sold as Native American made (see next section)

C. Native American style jewelry that is not Native American made.

The latter type is also sometimes referred to as southwest jewelry since it copies many of the materials and designs of the southwest tribes.

I got into a funny back and forth discussion once with a customer who was trying to sell us her jewelry collection, mostly non NA made. They were nice sterling silver inlay pieces very typical of the southwest style. I said we weren’t interested as they were not authentic NA made. But she kept insisting that they were “real”, I think referring to the materials. Yes, real in the sense that you can touch and see the sterling and stone but they still were not made by NA hands, so they were not authentic NA made.

A perfect example of this type of “real” southwest jewelry (but not authentic Native American made jewelry) is Carolyn Pollack jewelry. Some of the pieces from that company are sterling silver and some also have real stones. People that like it love it.

Carolyn Pollack Southwest Style -Sterling Silver-YES …………………….. Real Turquoise – PROBABLY NOT ……………………………………………Pretty- YES ………………………………………………………………………….. Native American made – NO

There is a place for all type of items in the marketplace – as long as they are described accurately. Call a spade a spade.  You can read a little bit more about southwest style jewelry in my article “Info please on this pendant necklace with a crescent moon and a R”.

To qualify as Native American made, the piece must be made by a recognized, enrolled member of a Native American tribe.

Sterling Silver Wedding Basket Pendant by Navajo artist R.H. Begay

Read about the rules and regulations at the website of The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 where it states that “it is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian tribe.”

Below is an excellent article about a historic authentication group UITA.

Quest for Authenticity – The United Indian Traders Association: Better Quality, Greater Sales by Bille Hougart

FAKE NATIVE AMERICAN JEWELRY

There is a lot of counterfeit jewelry around – it is being sold as Native American made but is NOT. This is a distressing fact of life. What is even sadder is that the counterfeiters even copy the known hallmarks of legitimate NA artists, cutting sharply into the profits of the authentic artists and making it hard for even seasoned retailers to know the difference. Grrrrrrrr………..

Some of the counterfeit jewelry seized in a recent raid

Much of this type of counterfeit jewelry comes from overseas and is blatantly sold right in the heart of Indian country such as Gallup, Santa Fe, Albuquerque and the like.

To read about this problem and the latest sting operation, read  Biggest Fake Native American Art Conspiracy Revealed

HALLMARKS

 

 

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Hallmarks are a great aid in linking an artist to a work but they are only one piece of the puzzle. It is just as important to know materials and design style of an artist. And due to the counterfeiting of the hallmarks themselves, some hallmarks are faked!

Authentic Native American items may or may not be hallmarked. Hallmarks are much more common since the 1970s but even today, many artists do not sign their work. This is especially true of stone necklaces, Navajo Pearls and earrings where there isn’t a convenient place to put a a hallmark. Hallmark tags are sometimes used on necklaces.

For more on hallmarks, read my articles:

What is a Native American Hallmark?

Native American Hallmark Books

Book Review – Native American and Southwestern Silver Hallmarks by Bille Hougart

Here is another great article from a favorite blogger of mine Kim Messier Reassessing Native American Hallmark Books

There is also an extensive hallmark list on this website

BOOKS

Besides hallmark books, there are many other books and published materials related to vintage and contemporary Native American jewelry. Look through the list of books in our reference library by clicking the link below:

Native American Reference Library at Horsekeeping LLC

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BUY DIRECT FROM THE ARTIST OR FROM TRUSTED SELLERS

The best way to know you are buying authentic items, is to buy directly from the artist or from trusted galleries and sellers.

Horsekeeping LLC

Most artists are not set up to sell retail – they do not have stores or websites. Some artists do. But most sell to gallery or store owners that want to carry their work.  For example, read our authenticity policy at our webstore horsekeeping.com.

Authenticity of Native American Jewelry Policy at Horsekeeping

Vintage Shop at Horsekeeping LLC

Our MO (Method of Operation) is that if we have not purchased the item directly from the artist (which occurs frequently when we purchase estate lots) we try to authenticate the origin definitively. If we can not, then we do not call it Native American, we do not call it Navajo, Zuni or Hopi. We just sell it as-is even though it might show all the characteristics of being Native American made. This is important to us, to our customers and to Native American artists.

If an item is of unknown origin and/or materials and does not show design or workmanship characteristics of Native American jewelry, it goes into the Bargain Barn. We have made a few mistakes over the years and put some valuable things in there just because we couldn’t authenticate them. But better to err on the safe side.

Bargain Barn for items of unknown origin

 

CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY

Unless filled out by the artist, a COA is not worth the paper it is printed on………..

Legally, only the artist who makes a piece can fill out a Certificate of Authenticity (COA). Otherwise IMHO, a COA is not worth the paper it is printed on. Therefore, for a seller to send you a generic certificate or one that the seller signs serves no purpose. Most artists sign their work with a hallmark.  Of those that do not sign, very few provide COAs.

NATIVE AMERICAN JEWELRY GROUPS

So what to do in the case of unsigned vintage or contemporary pieces? One route it to find Native American jewelry “experts”. The internet makes this possible through groups.

There are many groups on the internet that are devoted to Native American jewelry,. Some have great educational and sharing atmospheres! Others are negative and combative and some members give answers and opinions that are self-aggrandizing and self-serving. As with any group, the cream will rise to the top.  I’ll list a few of my favorite groups below. After you successfully join the group, ask for comments on the piece you are considering buying or are getting ready to sell.

Here are some group tips:

  1. When you post to a group, give as much information as possible: dimensions, weight, type of materials, where you got it, any other provenance you might have.
  2. Include a lot of photos with your question. They should be large, clear and show all aspects of the piece, including closeups of key features and hallmarks. Even with all this it is sometimes hard to tell for sure if something is authentic from photos. There is nothing like having the piece in hand. But in many cases, photos do the trick because certain aspects are easily recognizable.
  3. Everyone has an opinion. Some opinions are better than others. And some opinions are just not right ! Once you join a group you will soon learn which members not only have an opinion but back it up with experience, facts, information and research. Those members are gold.
  4. Some comments might sting because not all members filter their thoughts. Your 1970s bracelet might be called rough or ugly even if it IS NA made. So brace yourself for some honest opinions. Also be ready for people to make inappropriate comments when they haven’t even taken the time to thoroughly look at your photos, read your description or read previous comments. Some just leap before they look. Or look but do not see. So take all comments with a grain of salt.
  5. Be polite and grateful and contribute when you can – that’s what makes a community work !
  6. Don’t use the group space for personal chatter and silliness. Most groups prefer to stick to the topics at hand. Post a serious inquiry, you are likely to get a serious answer. After all, that is what you want, right?

Here are some of my favorite groups – please let me know of others that you think should be added to the list.

Navajo Jewelry: Antique, Mid-Century, & Contemporary

Historic Navajo Jewelry

Let’s Talk Turquoise

Historic Hopi and Pueblo Jewelry

Contemporary Zuni Jewelry

Historic Zuni Jewelry

Zuni Jewelry – Let the Buyer Beware

Paula

Vintage Petrified Wood, Picture Jasper and Fossilized Agate Bracelets

Some vintage Native American jewelry features beautiful “stones” that almost seem to show a scene or tell a story. Such stones could be Petrified Wood, Picture Jasper, or Agate.

(In all these photos, please ignore the reflection from the lights – although these bracelets are over 50-60 years old, the stones are as bright and shiny as the day they were made and really reflect the light.)

Petrified wood is result of fossilization, the transformation of wood into agate through the process of absorption of the minerals into the cells of the wood. The resulting agate can be harder than steel.

Petrified wood can contain a wide variety of materials and minerals but most commonly agate, jasper and opalized wood.

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The colors that appear depend on what minerals are present. Iron oxides show reds and browns while manganese results in pink.

 

 

Copper, cobalt, and chromium will exhibit as greens and blues. Carbon is black and silica is white or gray.

 

Picture Jasper is similarly formed when quartz-rich mud is fossilized.
With all those colors from unique layers of various minerals, the specific chemical environment (pH, moisture, temperature etc.) surrounding the wood or mud along with the factor of time, some beautiful scenes and symbols can appear in petrified wood, picture jasper and agate.

 

Paula

Authentic Native American Indian Fetish Necklaces

To begin talking about Native American fetish necklaces, first a little bit about fetishes.

A Native American fetish is a stone or shell carving and sometimes antler or wood, usually in the image of an animal.

Zuni Horse Fetish made of Acoma Jet

Indian fetishes can be carried or displayed. Those that are carried are often called pocket fetishes.

Lakota Pipestone Buffalo Fetish – makes a great pocket fetish because of its smooth surface and sturdy construction.

Those that are displayed are called table fetishes.

Zuni Deer Fetish carved from Antler

Zuni artists are the traditional fetish carvers but there are many talented Navajo carvers as well.

Pig by Stanton Hannaweeke – Zuni

Bobcat by Navajo Herbert Davis

To read more about fetishes, see my other blog posts:

Native American Fetish Carvings – What are they used for?

Animal Fetish Powers

Types of Native American Fetishes

Serpentine used in Native American Fetish Carvings

Native American Terms – Fetish, Totem, Amulet, Talisman

How Do I Display Zuni Native American Fetish Carvings?

Native American Fetishes – Zuni Carving Families

The Power of Native American Fetish Carvings – Story of the Midnight Bear

Native American Stone Fetish Carvings – Six Directions

How Zuni Navajo Native American Fetishes Are Made

 

FETISH NECKLACES

Vintage Fetish Necklace – origin unknown

Native American fetish necklaces are made with small fetishes that are drilled and strung like beads with fine shell, turquoise or jet heishi in between. Just like with pocket and table fetishes, fetish necklaces are made by both Navajo and Zuni artists.

AND BEWARE !! There are many NON- Native American fetish necklaces. They are usually made overseas and sold as Native American. BAD !!! Below is a slide show of 3 common imported, faux Native American necklaces. When we get items like this in an estate lot, we sell them in our Bargain Barn.

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Like any Native American item, buy directly from the maker or from a trusted seller.

Navajo horse fetish necklace

 

The animals can vary but often include birds, bears, horses, mountain lions, turtles, foxes, wolves and many others.

Zuni fetish necklace with many animals

The stones and shells usually used include turquoise, mother of pearl, pink shell, acoma jet, serpentine, pipestone and many others.

Navajo Fetish Necklace

Here are some more of my blog posts that relate to fetish necklaces:

What is a stacked necklace? More on Navajo and Zuni Fetish Necklaces

Are these Bird Fetish Necklaces Authentic Native American made?

44 Bird Fetish Necklace – is it Native American made?

Stacked Fetish Necklace – is it authentic Native American made?

Wanted – A Six Directions Fetish Necklace Set

Native American Fetish Necklace – Signed by Artist?

Native American Wearable Art – Stacked Fetish Necklace

Hector Goodluck Monument Valley Fetish Necklace

Native American Fetish Necklace – Mother or Grandmother Necklace

Bird Fetish Necklace from Goodwill

Paula

The Three Stone Navajo Bracelet

One very traditional Navajo bracelet layout is the three stone bracelet.

#8 Turquoise 3 Stone Shadowbox bracelet by Navajo Wilbur Muskett

This layout is usually used when there are wonderful stones to showcase.

Vintage 3 Stone Bracelet with chisel mark E

The Three Stone layout works best if the stones match.

Vintage unsigned Royston Turquoise 3 Stone bracelet

Often the central stone is larger and the two sides stones are smaller.

Vintage unsigned 3 Stone bracelet

Sometimes the central stone is smaller and the two side stones are larger.

Vintage unsigned 3 stone bracelet

 

It is equally suitable to use the layout on a wire bracelet or a cuff.

Read about wire bracelets here – Wire Bracelets

Vintage unsigned 3 stone Bisbee turquoise bracelet on heavy 3 wire frame

 

Three stone White Buffalo Stone cuff bracelet by Joe Piaso

Read about White Buffalo Stone.

 

Vintage 3 stone bracelet with partial hallmark of P. This is a cross between a wire and a cuff bracelet. There is a heavy 4 wire framework and a solid sterling faceplate under the stones.Paula

Sacred Red Pipestone from Minnesota

Lakota horse pipe carved by 4th generation Lakota pipemaker Alan Monroe from pipestone he quarried from Pipestone National Monument

 

From the website of Pipestone National Monument 

“When you pray with this pipe, you pray for and with everything.”  -Black Elk

 

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For countless generations, American Indians have quarried the red pipestone found at this site.

Red Pipestone is also referred to as Catlinite. Read more about Catlinite by clicking here.

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 These grounds are sacred to many people because the pipestone quarried here is carved into pipes used for prayer. Many believe that the pipe’s smoke carries one’s prayer to the Great Spirit. The traditions of quarrying and pipemaking continue here today.

More information from the Pipestone National Monument website

Located in rural southwestern Minnesota, the pipestone quarries are considered a sacred site by many American Indians. For the last 5,000 years or more, tribes across the central region of North America have traveled to this site to quarry. Today, they still travel long distances to this site to continue the tradition of pipestone quarrying and pipe making. Since 1946, the 56 active pipestone quarry pits have been managed by issuance of a quarry permit.

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Pipestone quarrying is often an underappreciated part of the tradition surrounding pipe making. The task of extracting pipestone from the earth is slow and laborious using hand tools not much more advanced than the tools and methods used in past millennia. The process can require many days of physical labor with only sledgehammers, pry bars, chisels, wedges, and steel bars allowed. Good physical condition is a prerequisite.

 

A cross-section view of a quarry showing the layers of earth and quartzite that needs to be removed before reaching the layer of pipestone. Note that the pipestone seam is angled downward. Over time, the quarriers must remove more and more quartzite, one of the hardest rocks in the world, to continue extracting the pipestone.

Depending upon the specific quarry and amount of material extracted, experience has shown that quarrying time can be estimated at two to six weeks to reach the subsurface layer of pipestone. This pipestone lens is sandwiched between layers of very hard Sioux Quartzite formation rock. Depending upon a quarry’s location along the quarry line, the upper levels of quartzite can be four to ten feet thick above the pipestone layer. Prairie plants and soil varying in depth from one to six feet cover the upper layer of quartzite.

Quarriers use shovels and wheelbarrows to dig up surface soils and glacial till. Then they dump it in rubble piles at the rear of the quarries. Subsequently, broken pieces of quartzite rock are also discarded.

The upper layer of quartzite is composed of multiple quartzite strata, with vertical fractures and cracks in the rock. Wedges or chisels are placed into these cracks can be driven down with sledge hammers to break apart loose individual quartzite blocks. Upon loosening a piece, it is worked free with a steel pry bar and allowed to drop to the floor of the quarry. Heavy sledge hammers are then used to break the bigger chunks of quartzite into smaller, more manageable pieces that can be lifted and thrown out of the back of the quarry. The process of breaking out the quartzite is repeated many times until the pipestone layer is exposed.

See the slide show below which shows the blessing and quarrying of the pipestone that is used to make the items in our store

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The smaller pieces are also used in building a rock retaining wall along the front of the rubble pile. The rock wall serves as a barrier so that as additional quartzite and soil are thrown or stacked at the rear of the quarry, the rubble pile is prevented from collapsing back into the quarry. Building a sturdy retaining wall to keep rock and fill out of the pit is an essential part of managing a quarry and a very important protective safeguard for quarriers.

Sacred Catlinite Ceremonial Necklace

Once the pipestone is exposed, care must be taken in removing the stone as it is very fragile and when handling large slabs it can break. The pipestone layer may vary from 10 to 18 inches thick and it too is composed of multiple layers from 1 ½ to 3 inches thick. Individual layers are carefully removed one slab at a time by driving wedges into the natural horizontal seams. The natural vertical cracks in the quartzite carry down through the pipestone, which allows the quarrier to remove the pipestone layers in irregularly-shaped slabs or tabular blocks.

Raven Effigy Pipe

The quarry pits are located in the bottom of a bowl-shaped drainage. In the spring and early summer months groundwater from rain and snow melt collects in this low lying area, filling the quarries with water. Most quarriers prefer to work during the summer to late fall months to avoid the groundwater problems. Monument staff will assist quarriers by pumping water out of the quarries, but only two days ahead of when quarrying is planned. Often, when it is high, groundwater will flow back into the quarries as fast as it is pumped out. Since continued pumping will not reduce the water level, it will not be attempted during these periods when groundwater is high.

Buffalo Effigy Pipe

Paula

What is a sweater bracelet?

Early on in my collecting of Native American bracelets, I was handed a contemporary Zuni needlepoint bracelet by the maker and was told “this is a sweater bracelet”.

Zuni needlepoint sweater bracelet by Jenny Eustace

I had never heard that term before and am a firm believer in “if you don’t know, ask”, so I asked and was told it is a style of bracelet where a design element has a “drop” – that is, it drops down so it lays on the back of the wearer’s hand and can peek out of the lower edge of a long-sleeved sweater cuff. Well that made perfect sense so I have used the term ever since.

A more subtle sweater bracelet by Jenny Eustace

Here is another example of a sweater bracelet by a Navajo artist.

Petit Point sweater bracelet by Navajo Betty Etisitty

Some sweater bracelets can be quite dramatic in how much silver and stone is “dropped” onto the back of the hand.

Unmarked NOS (New Old Stock) sweater bracelet

Unmarked vintage sterling silver and turquoise sweater bracelet

Here is a versatile sweater bracelet – you can decide which color you want to peek out.

Unmarked vintage petit point sweater bracelet in turquoise and coral

Some bracelets made a gentle downward sweep at the cuff.

Tommy Jackson, Navajo

Silver sweater bracelets often come to a point as they drop.

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Paula