How are antlers obtained for Native American arts and crafts?

Hi Paula,

I recently stumbled upon your lovely website and am quite impressed with the vast selection of unique Native American products. I’m very interested in purchasing one of the Zuni fetishes and noticed that the one I’m interested in (Pinky) is carved from antler. Would it be possible to tell me how these antlers are obtained? Any information you could provide me with would be much appreciated. 

Thank you for your time! 

Warm Regards,


Rabbit Fetish carved from antler by Willard Laate, Zuni

Hi Ash,

Deer and elk shed their antlers in the late winter and regrow them early the following summer. We’ve found them when walking around on our land. It seems there are certain areas where the males go back to shed each year. Sometimes the antlers are found hanging in a bush or low tree showing the buck or bull used the tree to rub the antler off.

It is a completely natural annual process that does no harm to the animal. It is nature’s way. Antlers not only make wonderful carving materials but slices make good buttons for medicine bags and more.

Many artists have stockpiles of antlers they or friends have found. Most Native American artists I have talked with obtain their antlers this way.

Oh, wonderful! Thank you for the informative and speedy response. Much appreciated.


Native American Symbols – Corn Maiden

The Corn Maiden is represented in jewelry and table fetishes as a woman with a body shaped like an ear of corn. She may or may not be wearing a headdress.

Tablita Corn Maiden by Delbert Cachini, Zuni

Corn is to Pueblo people what the buffalo has always been to the Plains Indians, the very symbol of LIFE. In Zuni mythology, the Corn Maidens brought this gift, and many of the carvings of women, especially those with a criss-cross pattern on the body, are carved to pay homage to the Corn Maidens.

Picasso Marble Corn Maiden with Tabletta by Carl Etsate, Zuni

What is a tabletta (also called a Tablita)? It is a portion of the headdress of the Hopi Butterfly Maiden (subject of an upcoming post) and often shown on the corn Maiden.  A tabletta is a ceremonial board headdress with stair step edges and a decorated front and back. It is worn by Native American dancers who depict the Corn Maiden, using a harness to hold it onto the head, so that the widest portion is seen from the front or the back.

The Corn Maiden represents the divine gift of the growing and harvesting of corn to Native American peoples. Often stylized, Corn Maidens are very captivating and reach out to you.

Corn Maiden carved from Deer Antler by Jared Amesoli, Zuni