Native American Pin Vest

In days gone by, small to medium pins were commonly worn on blazer lapels, sweaters, coats, jackets, scarves. clutch purses and hats…………pins were a fashion staple.

See the slide show below for samples of classic Navajo pins.

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A brooch is a large decorative piece of jewelry pinned to a sweater or dress to complete and outfit and make a bold statement. Large grandmother pins can be thought of as a brooch.


Native American artists have made many styles of pins over the years and continue to do so today.  They range in size from tie tacks and hat pins all the way up to large petit point pins and employ all types of animals, symbols and designs.

See the slide show below for samples of Zuni, Hopi and Navajo symbols.

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Although I have written about ways to use pins in previous blog posts, truth be told, I rarely use pins unless it is as a pendant, using a pin-to-pendant converter.

See these articles:

Pins Make a Comeback

Native American Pins 

Native American Pins Beautify Handbags

Like many Native American jewelry aficionados, I have accumulated quite a few pins and rather than just look at them in a drawer or box, I decided to use a denim vest to display some of them.

See the slide show below for examples of animal pins.

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Butterfly pins are popular by both Zuni and Navajo artists.

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Cluster and grandmother pins are made by both Zuni and Navajo artists.

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Book Look: Zuni Fetishes and Carvings by Kent McManis

We have many fetish reference books in the store but the one I reach for first is “Zuni Fetishes and Carvings” by Kent McManis.

There is a first edition (left) and second edition (right)

The first 37 pages are devoted to “The Power of the Fetish” and discuss the symbolism and usage of the various fetishes. The section is organized by animals and human forms: owls, badgers, maidens to mention just a few.

Claudia Peina – Zuni
Warrior Maiden Carving

The next 34 pages discuss the various materials the Zuni artists use in carving and decorating their fetishes.

Emery Boone – Zuni
Horse Fetish Carving of Pipestone with inlay

The next few pages discuss the art of carving.

Antler carving of eagle taking rabbit

The next 55 pages are devoted to the Zuni carving families telling a brief history of the family. Each family section includes a detailed family tree. There are also examples of pieces made by various members of each family.

An ammonite bear by the Laiwakete family.

The book closes with a brief guide to collecting, indexes and so on.  See the slide show below of various buffalo fetish carvings.

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This is a valuable book for the Zuni fetish collector.


Sadly we lost our mentor and friend Kent McManis earlier this year. His passion lives on and he is held in high regard.



American Indian Commandments
Sacred Instructions Given By The Creator To Native People At The Time Of Creation

Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.
Remain close to the Great Spirit.
Show great respect for your fellow beings.
Work together for the benefit of all Mankind.
Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.
Do what you know to be right.
Look after the well being of mind and body.
Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.
Be truthful and honest at all times.
Take full responsibility for your actions.

Navajo Pendant – First People

Native Code of Ethics
1. Each morning upon rising, and each evening before sleeping, give thanks for the life within you and for all life, for the good things the Creator has given you and for the opportunity to grow a little more each day. Consider your thoughts and actions of the past day and seek for the courage and strength to be a better person. Seek for the things that will benefit others (everyone).

Zuni Man

2. Respect: Respect means “To feel or show honor or esteem for someone or something; to consider the well being of, or to treat someone or something with deference or courtesy”. Showing respect is a basic law of life.

Treat every person from the tiniest child to the oldest elder with respect at all times. Special respect should be given to Elders, Parents, Teachers, and Community Leaders.
No person should be made to feel “put down” by you; avoid hurting other hearts as you would avoid a deadly poison.
Touch nothing that belongs to someone else (especially Sacred Objects) without permission, or an understanding between you.

Respect the privacy of every person, never intrude on a person’s quiet moment or personal space.

Never walk between people that are conversing.

Lakota Stick

Never interrupt people who are conversing.

Speak in a soft voice, especially when you are in the presence of Elders, strangers or others to whom special respect is due.

Do not speak unless invited to do so at gatherings where Elders are present (except to ask what is expected of you, should you be in doubt).

Never speak about others in a negative way, whether they are present or not.

Treat the earth and all of her aspects as your mother. Show deep respect for the mineral world, the plant world, and the animal world. Do nothing to pollute our Mother, rise up with wisdom to defend her.

Navajo beaded bracelets – sacred animal world.

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Show deep respect for the beliefs and religion of others.

Listen with courtesy to what others say, even if you feel that what they are saying is worthless. Listen with your heart.

Respect the wisdom of the people in council. Once you give an idea to a council meeting it no longer belongs to you. It belongs to the people. Respect demands that you listen intently to the ideas of others in council and that you do not insist that your idea prevail. Indeed you should freely support the ideas of others if they are true and good, even if those ideas are quite different from the ones you have contributed. The clash of ideas brings forth the Spark of Truth.

Chief’s Pipe

3. Once a council has decided something in unity, respect demands that no one speak secretly against what has been decided. If the council has made an error, that error will become apparent to everyone in its own time.

4. Be truthful at all times, and under all conditions.

5. Always treat your guests with honor and consideration. Give of your best food, your best blankets, the best part of your house, and your best service to your guests.

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Sterling Silver Navajo Cup

6. The hurt of one is the hurt of all, the honor of one is the honor of all.

7. Receive strangers and outsiders with a loving heart and as members of the human family.

8. All the races and tribes in the world are like the different colored flowers of one meadow. All are beautiful. As children of the Creator they must all be respected.

9. To serve others, to be of some use to family, community, nation, and the world is one of the main purposes for which human beings have been created. Do not fill yourself with your own affairs and forget your most important talks. True happiness comes only to those who dedicate their lives to the service of others.

10. Observe moderation and balance in all things.

11. Know those things that lead to your well-being, and those things that lead to your destruction.

12. Listen to and follow the guidance given to your heart. Expect guidance to come in many forms; in prayer, in dreams, in times of quiet solitude, and in the words and deeds of wise Elders and friends.

Navajo Pin Pendant

This article is a reprint from the “Inter-Tribal Times” – October 1994


Love of the Land
The old people came literally to love the soil, and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power. It was good for the skin to touch the earth, and the old people liked to remove their moccasins and walk with bare feet on the sacred earth.
Their tipis were built upon the earth and their altars were made of earth. The birds that flew in the air came to rest upon the earth, and it was the final abiding place of all things that lived and grew.
The soul was soothing, strengthening, cleansing, and healing. This is why the old Indian still sits upon the earth instead of propping himself up and away from its life-giving forces. For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply and to feel more keenly.
He can see more clearly into the mysteries of life and come closer in kinship to other lives about him.
– Chief Luther Standing Bear –
Teton Sioux, Born 1868

Lakota Buffalo Stick

Native American Prayer
Oh, Great Spirit
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to all the world,
hear me, I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.

Let me walk in beauty
and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things your have made
and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand
the things you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have
hidden in every leaf and rock.

Zuni Maiden

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my Spirit may come to you without shame.

– Chief Yellow Lark –
Lakota –

Lakota Doll

What is Life
What is Life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time.
It is the little shadow
which runs across the grass
and loses itself in the Sunset.
– Crowfoot –
Blackfoot Indian

Lakota Ledger Art


By Chief Seattle
“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone,
Man would die from
a great loneliness of the spirit.
For whatever happens to the beasts
soon happens to man.”

Mother Earth Turtle Lakota Sage Bag

The Teaching of Tecumseh
Live your life that the fear of death
can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about his religion.
Respect others in their views
and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life,
beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long
and of service to your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day
when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting
or passing a friend, or even a stranger,if in a lonely place
Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.
When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light,
for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks,
the fault lies in yourself.
Touch not the poisonous firewater that makes wise ones turn to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.
When your time comes to die, be not like those
whose hearts are filled with fear of death,
so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again
in a different way.
Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.

Zuni Warrior Maiden


Enormous Butterfly Necklace – Is it Ceremonial?

Hello Paula,

I bought this enormous butterfly necklace through a friend of mine in Arizona over twenty five years ago.  I paid three hundred dollars for it at the time.  I can not find any Hallmarks nor can I find anything comparable on the internet.  I was told it was a ceremonial type necklace for the Butterfly Clan.  I think the workmanship is a poor quality and may be old pawn jewelry.  Can you help me identify and value this piece?

I think I bought this necklace from an indian artist I used to know many years ago.  He often introduced me to other artists and I usually would purchase some wonderful art work.  This butterfly necklace was something dear to my heart and I enjoyed it for many years but in the last fifteen years or so it just sat in a box.  I would like to know more about it if that’s possible.  I couldn’t find any marks or signatures.  I tried to keep it clean many years ago but haven’t done much in over ten years.  It has gotten quite dark.  Is it better that I not try to clean it? How do you recommend I store it so it won’t get any blacker?
I hope these pics are okay.  I have some more if you like.

I appreciate all your effort and wisdom.  I don’t think such a beautiful pendant should just sit in a box for decades.  Someone should actually enjoy it.
On the other hand if the value is not much I will hang on to it a bit longer.
I did show it to a Native American artist and dealer in jewelry.  He said it was made around 1960 and the stones are from a mine that has been closed for a long time, the Morenci mine. Even thought the stones looked mixed, he said they were all from the same mine. He also said the silver was a lower grad which contained nickel.   He did appreciate the artistry and thought it may be Tau or Navaho.


butterfly_necklace resizedstonesbutterfly_necklace_back resized

Hi Val,

You have a unique piece with beautiful stones. You have a number of questions:

Tribal affiliation

Legend, use, significance




I’ll start with the quick ones to answer.

Value. We don’t appraise from photos. If interested in selling, here is article on that

Do We Buy Used Native American Jewelry? Updated 2014

Materials. It would seem that it would be made from nickel silver or coin silver. You can read all about silver here.

Jewelry Silver – Not All Silver is Created Equal

It seems to be hinged, has a hand made chain and lovely set turquoise stones in smooth bezels and I would agree that it looks like it is from 1960-70.

Turquoise – Identifying turquoise from photos is difficult at best. First there is the type of lighting where the photo is taken, the setting on the camera, the camera itself. Then there are the computer monitor settings that vary widely. Morenci turquoise is a blue turquoise with iron pyrite (fool’s gold) in it. Here are a couple of examples of Morenci turquoise:

Morenci turquoise

Morenci turquoise

Morenci turquoise

Morenci turquoise

The Morenci mine is a copper mine that is still fully operational but the turquoise portion had been closed (and buried under rock) for a number of years.

Southwest US Turquoise Mines

Southwest US Turquoise Mines

Care – It looks great for a vintage piece. I’d keep on doing what you are doing as far as storage. If it is tarnishing, you could wrap it in anti-tarnish cloth which you can purchase by the yard on the internet or at a sewing store.

Tribal affiliation. You mention Butterfly Clan but I doubt this is Hopi. I’m not familiar with Tau. I would guess Navajo made. Here are some examples of typical butterfly motifs and their tribal affiliations.

Hopi Butterfly pendant by Kevin Takala. Note the textuized background and silver overlay, typical of Hopi jewelry.7

Hopi Butterfly pendant by Kevin Takala. Note the textured background and silver overlay, typical of Hopi jewelry.

Zuni Inlay Butterfly Pendant by Allison Dishta

Zuni Inlay Butterfly Pendant by Allison Dishta

Navajo Pin Pendant by Thomas Yazzie

Navajo Pin Pendant by Thomas Yazzie

As far as significance or ceremonial use, that is always best obtained from the person who made it or it was purchased from. Each Native American tribe ascribes their own legends and stories to the butterfly. Butterfly attributes can range everywhere from beauty and transformation to vanity to untrustworthy trickster.

Here is an example of the butterfly hairdo on an unmarried Hopi woman.

butterfly hair HopiTo read some of the legends, I suggest a google search something like “Navajo Butterfly Legend” and a similar one for Hopi and Zuni.


Zuni Opal Inlay Pin Pendant by Earline Edaakie

Zuni Opal Inlay Pin Pendant by Earline Edaakie