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Navajo Jewelry A Brief History

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 10:47:48 AM America/Phoenix

The Navajo people have been making jewelry for many years. Before the Navajo people were introduced to incorporating silver into their jewelry; their wares consisted mainly of beads, shells and animal parts. Atsidi Sani is known as the "father" or "first" Navajo silversmith. Taught by a Mexican silversmith they called Nakai Tsosi, Sani actually began his craft by blacksmithing and working with iron. Most of his silversmithing was done between 1860 and 1890, where he mastered the craft using silver coins and turquoise beads and stones. He eventually became a teacher and set the stage for what would become a love and interest that lasts today.


Atsidi Sani passed away at the age of 90 in 1918 and left a trail for Navajo silversmiths to come. With the coming of the railroad to the west, the demand for Navajo jewelry was off and running. From the early 1900's to the early 1960's Navajo jewelry and crafts were a major part of the economy to the Navajo people. Navajo jewelry became a monetary system to the Navajo people. Jewelry was traded, sold and bought by just about anyone who passed through the Southwest.


During the 1960's and 1970's it was truly the hay day years for Navajo jewelry. With the coming of the highway system and the explosion of the American Southwest there were stands, stores, and trading posts everywhere. Fortunately, the art had been passed down to generations and it provided the Navajo people with a great industry. If you drove through Route 66 in the 1960's and 1970's you can remember the experience. Turquoise and Navajo jewelry were a huge fashion in these years and many movie stars and celebrities like Cher, Jim Morrison, Elvis were huge admirers of Navajo jewelry. Navajo jewelry was still being made the traditional way and form and was a huge success.


Beginning in the early 1980's, Navajo jewelry took on a whole new reform with style and craftsmanship. Silversmiths began working in shops in Gallup and Albuquerque and were supplying gift shops and stores all over the country. The styles became much more modern and intricate. At this time there were several trade schools teaching silversmithing and the artist took things to a whole new level. These were the formative years of artist recognition and it gained the attention of mainstream global.


With the coming of the internet in the mid 1990's, it gave the world access to a special craft and provided opportunity for Navajo silversmiths to expand, market, and share their wares.


Navajo Jewelry today is still a practiced craft, and is highly collectible and sought after. While there are not many shops still running as in the 70's and 80's the Navajo silversmith is still producing beautiful jewelry and more often than not works from home. They have become their own marketer and ultimately decide how they want their wares shared and sold. There have been more than 25,000 Navajo silversmiths over the past 40 years and fortunately in the early 1970's the silversmiths began to hallmark their wares. It is not always easy to identify a hallmark and can take some research. Here at Alltribes we are fortunate to have some of the best Navajo silversmiths in house and work with hundreds more, we are very proud and admire their craft and dedication.

Peace Pipes a Briefing

Tuesday, August 6, 2013 8:31:22 AM America/Phoenix


The use of the peace pipe was held sacred by Indians. Usually it was used in ceremonies of religious, political, or social nature. The decorations on the pipe's bowl and stem, and even the method of holding or passing the pipe on to the next person, held great ceremonial significance. The pipe was never laid on the ground. To smoke it was a signal that the smoker gave his pledge of honor. It is also believed that the smoke made one think clearly and endowed him with great wisdom. In a treaty ceremony, the pipe usually was passed around to everyone, even before the speeches were made and the problems discussed.  Some pipes were made out of wood, clay or bone. But the most popular were made out of pipe stone (catlinite) mined in the pipestone quarries of Minnesota. These red stone quarries were considered sacred by the Dakotas (Sioux), and were traditionally neutral ground for all tribes. Indians traveled many miles to get this pipestone, and it was a medium of barter between various tribes. The stone was so soft that it could be cut and worked into designs with a knife when freshly quarried. Some pipes were inlaid with lead. It is said that some of the Indian raids on small western town newspapers were made by the Indians to get type lead with which to inlay their pipes.

Comments | Posted in Native American Decor Peace PIpes By Ken Adams

Biggest Sale EVER

Saturday, June 29, 2013 9:45:27 AM America/Phoenix

Alltribes Indian Art is offering our customers the greatest sale ever held. From now until July 7th at midnight, Alltribes Indian Art will be offering 35% off of everything in the store.

Congrats John S 3000th FB fan

Thursday, June 20, 2013 11:47:42 AM America/Phoenix

 Congrats to our 3000th Facebook fan here at Alltribes Indian Art. Thank you for becoming a fan John S and hope our gift makes your day.

Comments | Posted in News By Ken Adams

Turquoise among the Hopi Part Three

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 10:07:52 AM America/Phoenix

In the traditional account of the early wanderings of the Hopi it is narrated that the people, after emerging from the underworld, traveled eastward. They met with many difficulties and were finally beset with grave danger from a great outflow of water from the ground. The chiefs met in council and made two balls of powdered turquoise and shell which they sent as a propitiatory offering to the evil water serpent who was the cause of the deluge, and immediately the ground became dry.
Comments | Posted in Turquoise Education By Ken Adams

Hopi Kachina Dolls Part Two

Monday, May 13, 2013 1:05:11 PM America/Phoenix

....And so you will say, "Ah yes, a kachina is a masked character but who is he, what is he, and what is the big significance?" A Hopi Indian will tell you that a kachina is a supernatural being who is impersonated by a man wearing a mask, and he wil add that the kachinas live on the San Francisco Peaks, near flagstaff, Arizona and on other high mountains. A kachina has three aspects; the supernatural being as he exists in the minds of the Hopis; the masked impersonator of the supernatural being, who appears in the kivas and plazas; and the small dolls carved in the same likeness. The first two aspects are termed Kachinas and the latter, kachina dolls. Since Kachina dolls, with we are primarily concerned, depend for their significance upon the masked impersonations, we must consider kachinas first.

Turquoise among the Hopi Part Two

Monday, May 13, 2013 12:49:29 PM America/Phoenix

In the Snake myth it is narrated the the chiefs son wondered what became of all the water in the Grand Canyon. So he went to investigate. After several adventure he encountered the goddess of hard substances who gave him a sack filled with all sorts of beads, among them turquoise. Upon his departure he was warned not to open the package until home was reached. The journey lasted several days, and each morning he found that the number of beads had increased. Finally the package became filled, and on the fifth night when nearly home he could resist no longer, but opened the package and spread out the contents, he was very happy over the treasure, but in the ensuing morning all the beads except the few original ones had disappeared, and this is why the Hopi have so few beads at the present time.

What is a Kachina? Part One of Six

Thursday, May 9, 2013 11:17:31 AM America/Phoenix

Ever since J Walter Fewkes, of the Smithsonian Institution, wrote his first illustrated report on Hopi Kachinas, in 1894, a growing number of people have become interested in the Hopi Indians and their delightful carved and painted kachina dolls. For years collectors have treasured these small representations of Hopi supernatural beings without being able to learn much about them. In northern parts of New Mexico and Arizona are a number of compact Indian villages with flat roofed houses built of stone or adobe. Because these Indians lived in villages, the Spanish word for which is pueblo, they are of the prehistoric people who lived in northern Arizona and New Mexico fifteen hundred years ago. Since that time they have developed a rich culture which, in certain aspects, because of their innate conservatism, has withstood the whiteman's efforts to supplant it with his own. Although most of the Pueblo Indians live in the Rio Grande Valley, near Albuquerque and Sante Fe, a chain of villages extends to the westward across the high plateaus and ends with the Hopi Indians who live on three mesas in northeastern Arizona. Many of these Puseblo Indians, particularly the Hopi and Zuni have ceremonies in which masked men, called kachinas, play an important role, and it is of these masked characters of the Hopi that we are going to speak. Stay tuned for part Two of What is a Kachina?

Turquoise among the Hopi Part One

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 10:28:05 AM America/Phoenix

Among the Hopi Indians, turquoise is believed to bring good fortune. It enters into the adornment of fetishes used to insure luck in the chase, and finds application in many ceremonials, such as the famed Snake Dance. Dr J Walter Fewkes had the following notes. "The priesthood of the bow have three fetishes which are arranged in the form of an alter on the floor of the Kiva during the ceremony in December. These fetishes are rude effigies made of a prescribed wood (the subterranean branch of cottonwood); two represent quadrupeds, and the third is evidently emblematic of the sky. The largest of the quadrupeds is about a foot long and 2" in diameter, and is adorned with inlaid fragments of shell and turquoise. The fetish represents the sky is a club-shaped body about 10 inches long, with its small end rounded and cross-hatched, to which a number of feathers, as prayer emblems are attached. On the broad end there are three shell disks representing a star group, possibly Orion, and near the tip of the other end are inlaid fragments of shell and turquoise, said to represent the Pleiades or some other constellation. The effigies are reputed to be of great antiquity, and are said to have been brought up from the underworld when the races of men emerged from the Grand Canyon." Many Hopi traditions have allusions to the turquoise. The Haruing Wuhti (literally, hard being woman) appears repeatedly in Hopi mythology, and she is said to be the owner of such hard objects as shells, coral and turquoise. In one legend, it is stated that the turquoise is the excrement from lizards. In the account of how the Hopi came from the underworld, a being called Skelton is described as very handsome, with his neck adorned with turquoise strands and his ears with turquoise pendants.
Comments | Posted in Turquoise Education By Ken Adams

Turquoise in the Early 1900's Part Three

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 12:17:00 PM America/Phoenix

The Zuni value the turquoise more highly than does any other Pueblo tribe, with the exception of the Hopi. A single string of beads of good quality is said to be worth several horses. In former times the Zuni necklaces were more carefully made than they are today, and numbers of them, worn only on ceremonial occasions, have been handed down from father to elder son for several generations. Two red shells inlaid with turquoise and worn pendant to the necklaces during the certain religious rights were in possession of the Zuni from early time; recently Mrs. MC Stevenson succeeded in obtaining one of them for the United States National Museum. According to Mrs. Stevenson, double loops of turquoise beads are worn by the Zuni in the ears only on ceremonial occasions; at other times they are worn pendant to necklaces. Beautiful mosaics consisting of thin pieces of turquoise cemented to wooden slabs are sometimes suspended from the ears. Many Zuni fetishes were supposed to be efficacious in the chase, have pieces of turquoise attached to them. Some are fashioned of stone in crude animal shapes, with inlaid eyes of turquoise. An example of particular interest in the United States National Museum is made of sandstone, dipped in blood, and not only are its eyes of turquoise, but several irregular slabs of this material are inset at intervals over the body.
Comments | Posted in News Zuni Jewelry Turquoise Education By Ken Adams

Rough Turquoise in 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 9:35:38 AM America/Phoenix

Here at Alltribes Indian Art we are always seeking out all types turquoise from around the world. This year is no exception; with the closing of the sleeping beauty mine in June of 2012 the supply and demand has been extremely high and difficult. Turquoise prices continue to rise, and finding the right quality for Native American jewelry is not easy. Fortunately, Alltribes Indian Art has been collecting turquoise from mines all over the world for over forty years. From green turquoise to blue turquoise Alltribes has rough turquoise of all varieties shapes and colors. In addition to carrying rough turquoise, we cut and cab right here in our lapidary shop.

Turquoise in the Early 1900's Part Two

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 9:13:44 AM America/Phoenix

Turquoise finds application by virtue of its supposed efficacy and consequently is prominent in many charms, amulets and fetishes. Few religious rights take place without its use and the paraphernalia of the priesthood abound in objects adorned with it. Turquoise indeed, may be said to hold a fundamental place in the religious ideas of the Pueblo Indians and in their outward ceremonial expression of them. The turquoise utilized varies from very inferior material to really beautiful stones. The majority, however, are of little value as gem material, according to our standards. Turquoise matrix is used along with pure material, although the latter is preferred. The Indian is usually rather keen judge of quality, although he does not so strongly favor the blue color, to the exclusion of the green, as does the white man.

Turquois Use in the Early 1900's

Thursday, March 14, 2013 1:34:35 PM America/Phoenix

This is an expert taken from the book "Turquois" written in 1915, by Joseph Pogue, Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences. Note the spelling of Turquoise is turquois in 1915. This is Part 1 in a 10 Part series so check back next week.

The turquois is today in wide use among Indians of the Southwest, and it forms one of their most cherished possessions. As in the past, it still finds a ceremonial as well as an ornamental application.

The Pueblo Indians find great pleasure in turquois and seldom is a well-to-do representative seen without ornaments of this material. Especially upon gala occasions and during ceremonies is this stone in evidence, and both sexes bedizen themselves with quantities of it. The turquois is most commonly fashioned into discodial and cylindrical beads and into various-size pendants of oblong, triangular, and keystone outline. The work is performed by rubbing the material on sandstone and polishing on finer material, and the turquoise objects are perforated with a bow-drill, usually tipped with a fragment of quartz or flint. The workmanship is rather crude and the finished piece is seldom symmetrical or highly polished. The beads are usually strung on cord, but sometimes on wire, and one or more strands of turquois are used for turquois necklaces, turquois bracelets, and more rarely turquois ear ornaments (earrings). Discoidal beads are most common; in some strands of turquois these alternate with cylindrical shapes, and pendants may be in inserted, especially towards the center, to give variety. Beads of coral and white shell are often combined with the turquois, although their introduction lessens the value of the string. Turquois pendants are frequently worn alone, suspended from the ears; indeed this is perhaps the most common ornament seen in the Southwest.

Silversmithing and Silver

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 1:58:25 PM America/Phoenix

In addition to tools required for silversmithing, the silver itself is necessary. The old-time Native American silversmith liked coin silver. The old pesos that the Native Indian silversmiths melted for their jewelry probably were of a good grade of silver. The pesos issued for some years previous and until about 1940 were 0.720 fine and could be used for jewelry. These pesos were 1 5/16", in diameter. Then in about 1947 two new coins were struck. a one-peso piece and a five peso piece. The one peso is 0.500 fine and 1 1/4" in diameter. The five peso is of a good quality of silver, marked 0.900. However, coin silver in sheet from can be obtained from some firms, but sterling silver is stocked wherever jewelers' supplies are sold. Pure silver is too soft for ordinary jewelry work except for bezels. Sterling silver is an alloy of 925 parts pure silver and 75 parts copper, and is known as 925-1000 fine. Sterling silver comes in sheet and wire form. Sterling can be had in thickness of 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, and 26 Brown & Sharp gauge, the smallest number being the thickest metal.


For ordinary work, it is well to buy some 16, 18, and 20 gauge silver perhaps 6 inches wide by whatever length is required. The 6 inch width is suggested because that is the usual length for a bracelet, and that is about the longest piece of silver that will be used for making in Indian jewelry. Twenty-gauge silver is just about 1/32 inches thick, while 16 gauge is about 3/64 inch thick. A piece of 26 gauge silver should be bought for making bezels. Bezels are the little rims soldered to jewelry to hold turquoise or other stones. B & S 26 gauge silver is about 1/64 inches thick. Silver usually is sold by weight, but in ordering, it is customary to state the gauge and the dimensions desired.


Silver wire should also be on hand. This comes in thicknesses ranging from 14 to 30 B. & S. gauge. If a draw plate is among the equipment, the buying of wire is generally simplified as one gauge of wire is all that is necessary because the smaller sizes can be drawn as needed.


It is always easier to work with annealed silver. Silver wire usually comes annealed, but it is sometimes necessary to anneal sheet silver. Hammering silver rends to harden it, and drawing wire through a draw plate also hardens it. For this reason, wire is usually pulled through two holes and then coiled, heated, and immersed in cold water or a pickle solution before drawing it thinner or shaping it.

Comments | Posted in Navajo Jewelry By Ken Adams

"Squash Blossom" a Brief History

Monday, May 7, 2012 12:12:39 PM America/Phoenix

History of the Squash Blossom

The unique squash blossom necklace originated by the Navajo from three foreign elements. The silver beads were evidently evolved from two button halves soldered together to make a bead. The buttons were from Spanish clothing decoration. The "squash blossom" was evidently copied from the silver pomegranate blossom seen on the trousers of men from Granada, Spain. The Naja or Crescent shaped pendant was borrowed from the Spanish horse headstall or bridle which in turn was adopted from the Moors who probably got it by way of the Middle east, possibly Mongolia. It was known in many early civilizations; the earliest are solid gold najas found in stone age graves in Ireland. Whatever the origins, the Navajo had the great ability to combine these elements into a beautiful piece of jewelry and the other Indians of the Southwest improved upon it. The Navajo called the squash blossoms themselves "Beads Which Spreads Out"

Alltribes Donates to Troops in Afganistan

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 10:44:33 AM America/Phoenix

Alltribes was both proud and fortunate to have the opportunity to donate hand made product to support a Super Bowl party held in Afghanistan. Along with several other American companies, we helped TASMG TF ( Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group Task Force ) have a wonderful Super Bowl celebration and were happy to have the honor to support our troops. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone serving our country, as we continue to pray for our soldiers safe return.

Comments | Posted in News By Ken Adams

Turquoise in Indian Jewelry

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 8:46:17 AM America/Phoenix

Inlay Stone Cutting

In the early years Indian jewelry was made with very little or no turquoise. It was not until the mid 1940's that turquoise was a mainstay in Indian jewelry. Not to say that turquoise was not used before this time frame; it was mainly just silver work. Today, to the Indian silversmith, using turquoise in jewelry is almost as necessary as the silver itself. In a lot of Zuni jewelry silver is really just something that holds the turquoise. Most poor turquoise is light light blue and sometimes even white and extremely soft and chalky. Most silversmiths use rich blue stones that are hard and durable. Turquoise can be treated in different ways depending on the methods used by the lapidary or silversmith. Not to be misunderstood, it is almost essential to maintain the deep colors and to maintain the stability of the stone. Even when stones are treated, most of the time the stone is still 99% turquoise. If stones go untreated, over time they will change color and more often than not fall apart at some point.

Turquoise can come from all over the American Southwest, Middle East, Africa and China. Most turquoise used in the Southwest comes from New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado. Over the years several mines have opened and closed and most of what is being sold on the open market is coming from Nevada and Arizona. Nevada turquoise usually has a wide variety of greenish blues and most from Arizona is known for it's blueish greens. Because of time and costs, a lot of hobbyist are purchasing stones already cut into cabs to save them the trouble of cutting stones. Fortunately at Alltribes we have a lapidary shop and have the pleasure of working with some of the best stone cutters in the business. This is a craft that most silversmiths used to do themselves but lapidary work and silversmithing have separated themselves as different talents over the years. Cutting and polishing stones has become a craft in itself and it takes many years and a lot of patience to create and learn the everlasting gemstone we love called turquoise. Watching a great stone cutter is simply fascinating if you have never seen it done. Especially when it is being cut for inlay turquoise jewelry.

Facebook Meets Alltribes

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 10:03:06 AM America/Phoenix

Near the end of 2011, social networking websites are now reaching over 80% of the world’s online population. A new report states that social networking accounts for one out of every five minutes of users online. Facebook accounts for three out of four minutes of online social network usage. It is essentially dominating the social networking world. Although Alltribes Indian Art was at status quo for the past two years, having a corporate presence has proven to be a major part of the retail sector of a websites success. While lying dormant for two years; Alltribes Indian Art was averaging about 7 new company likes a week. Now with the help of Wholesale Internet Solutions and being active on Facebook as a company, we are averaging about 39 new likes a week. We are extremely pleased to announce that we have reached the 1000 likes mark, and are climbing fast. Brand marketing is really the just of how Facebook can help small business become a household name. This practice is not new. Large corporations have been brand marketing and in your face for years for a good reason. With this new age of advertising Facebook has now surpassed Google as our number one referral source.

Comments | Posted in News By Ken Adams

Handmade Native American Jewelry

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 3:46:51 PM America/Phoenix

Kingman Turquoise Sterling Silver Cuff Bracelet by Joey McCray

Here at Alltribes Native American Art and Jewelry we continue to hand craft some of the finest Native American Jewelry on the market. Currently we are pumping out handmade turquoise jewelry, concho belts and bracelets for the holiday season. With great artist like Verna Blackgoat, Tom Ahasteen and Joey McCray we are getting it done.

Comments | Posted in News By Ken Adams

Dream Catchers

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 2:43:05 PM America/Phoenix

Native American 4 inch Red Buckskin Trade Bead Feathered Traditional Dreamcatcher By Mark Kasuse

Dream catchers are originally a native artifact from the Ojibwa nation. Native mothers would use various threads, such as sinew and yarn and would die it red. They would wrap the threads on wooden hoops and place them or weave them into baby cradle boards. This spider web form would capture anything that may try to pass through. Weather it be harm or sickness or bad feelings and thoughts this would protect them. The dream catcher would also filter out all the bad dreams.

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