Jewelry has always been an integral part of human culture; it’s nearly impossible to find a country without a culture of accessorizing. Its relevance is so much that every major ancient civilization had at least one form of accouterment made explicitly for adorning the body. The Native Americans also have their fair share of jewelry; the pieces are some of the most endearing fashions in the country.
Initially, Native Americans made their jewelry from bones, stones, and shells; yet, it was through the Spaniards that they learned how to smith metals into jewelry. Unsurprisingly, tribes based in the Southwest were the most influenced by Spanish whitesmithing thanks to the region’s proximity to old Spanish territory. Despite the popularity of metal jewelry, most people recognize the beaded accessories typical of many Native American tribes.
Perhaps the most iconic piece of jewelry associated with the Native Americans is the wampum. Consisting of shell beads strung together, this luxurious accessory was once used as a form of currency among the tribes and even colonists. While the traditions of the Native Americans are now being appropriated for modern uses, their simple yet stylish jewelry continue to fascinate avid wearers and enthusiasts to this day.