Category Archives: Native American Jewelry

Articles about Native American Jewelry and the artists who create it.

The New Mexico Pueblos: A Short Snapshot

The Pueblo are Native American tribal nations who live in Pueblos and are descended from the Anasazi. With a long tradition of farming and craftsmanship including Native American jewelry, they have traditionally lived in adobe villages in the southwest for more than one thousand years.

What is a Pueblo? Continue reading

Thunderbird jewlery

Native American Symbolism: The Thunderbird

One iconic symbol featured heavily in our stunning Native American jewelry at Indian Traders is the Thunderbird.

The symbolism of the Thunderbird

The Thunderbird is a mythical creature of huge importance to the Native Americans of both the United States and Canada. An enormous bird, he symbolized great power, strength, and protection for humans against evil spirits. Able to transform into human form by removing his head like a mask and his feathers like a cape, he was considered the most powerful of all Spirits in Native American culture. Beneath his wings were lightning snakes, and these he wielded as weapons or tools as required.

Lightning shot from Thunderbird’s eyes and the flapping of his wings sounded like thunder. The Thunderbirds brought storms and rain – these could be good when the rain was needed or bad when floods, fires, and destructive winds were the result.

Said to reside in the clouds above the highest mountains, the Thunderbirds had sharp claws and teeth and vibrant, colorful feathers. His wingspan was enormous.

Tribal Legends

Legends of the Thunderbird have been passed through the generations via stories, songs, and dance. Many legends depict the anger of the Thunderbirds; they are fearsome and frightening. Some tribes perceived them as sacred natural forces, while others saw them as normal parts of the animal kingdom.

Only the strongest, most successful and powerful Chiefs and their families were permitted to use Thunderbird in their crests.

  • According to the Algonquin Indians, Thunderbird controls the upper world; the underworld is controlled by the Great Horned Serpent.
  • The Menominee believe they are direct messengers from the Great Spirit.
  • On the Pacific Northwest Coast, people begged Thunderbird for help with crops and food in times of scarcity. He agreed to help, but asked that thereafter he only be depicted with wings stretched out atop a totem pole.
  • To the Winnebago Indians of the Plains and Midwest, Thunderbird was a Shapeshifter who could take human form. He has been associated with the Birdman legends in Mississippian culture. According to Winnebago legend, a man who experiences a vision of a Thunderbird while fasting will become a war chief.
  • The Passamaquoddy Indians of New Brunswick and Maine believed that Thunderbirds were Native American men who could transform into flying creatures to protect humans.
  • The Sioux believe Thunderbird was a noble protector against reptilian monsters known as Unktehlia.
  • Thunderbird appeared to the Shawnee tribe as backwards-speaking boys.
  • The Ojibwe believed Thunderbirds fought underwater spirits, punished immoral humans, and travelled with other birds.
  • The Quillayute Indians of the Pacific Northwest believed Thunderbird was sent by the Great Spirit to help after a catastrophic natural disaster, bringing a great whale from the ocean to feed them and enable their survival. Quillayute legend mentions the Great Flood in its description of the battle between the Thunderbird and the whale.
  • The Navajo war god Nayanazgeni battled with the Thunderbirds who, according to Navajo belief, was an alien god.

Thunderbird symbolism has for many thousands of years been applied to pottery, masks, carvings, totem poles, and jewelry.

The Thunderbird at Indian Traders

We offer some beautiful pieces featuring the Thunderbird in Native American jewelry, from a Zuni Thunderbird keyring to Zuni Moneyclips and even a Native American blanket for your baby’s crib. Visit our store today to explore our vast range of stunning, authentic southwest American Indian merchandise.

Shop for Christmas at Indian Traders!

While some people are on top of their Christmas shopping months before, many of us are “last-minute” shoppers. Are you still pondering the perfect gift? Indian Traders has fantastic gift ideas for those you love! From Native American Turquoise Jewelry to Bronze Statues, Pendleton Blankets, and Apparel, and much more, we have the perfect gift in our store, ready for purchase to be shipped to you! Continue reading

Beyond Turquoise: Other Stones used in SW Native American Jewelry

Here at Indian Traders, we offer a very wide array of Native American jewelry including stunning pieces incorporating turquoise. Turquoise may be the most renowned stone used in the authentic jewelry created by the American Indians of the southwest, however there are many other semi-precious stones widely used as well and often paired with turquoise to magnificent effect. Continue reading

Native American Jewelry: Tips for Choosing Turquoise

Native American turquoise jewelry is a stunning aesthetic choice as well as an investment when you purchase authentic pieces. But do you know how to choose your turquoise stone?

Turquoise is formed over millions of years when water bubbles through rocks which contain deposits of minerals including copper and aluminum. Continue reading

Caring for Native American Turquoise Jewelry

Congratulations! Your new piece of Native American turquoise jewelry, whether it has been newly crafted or is an estate piece, is not only beautiful – it is an investment.

Your stunning southwest jewelry, if it’s authentic Native American jewelry, has been crafted to high standards and will last a lifetime. But there are some basics you need to know about caring for your jewelry to ensure it remains looking its best now and into the future. Continue reading

Iroquois Woman

Native American Jewelry – Tribal Differences in Design The East Woodlands

The Native American bracelets and necklaces of the Southwest are renowned the world over, particularly for the use of turquoise and silver overlay designs. Native American jewely of the Eastern US differs significantly from these designs. Each of these eastern tribes has its own styles and designs which are influenced by the materials available locally and the culture of each American Indian nation. Continue reading


Native American Jewelry – Tribal Differences in Design The Great Plains and Northwest Coast

There is an enormous focus on the Native American jewelry of the southwest, and this is what we sell here at Indian Traders. While incredibly distinctive, this Navajo, Hopi and Zuni jewelry is not the only form of Native American jewelry that is made, and other tribes from other US regions have their own distinct designs and jewelry styles, very much influenced by materials available locally. Continue reading

hopi eagle pendant

Native American Jewelry – Tribal Differences in Design The Zuni and the Hopi

Native American jewelry is renowned worldwide for its beauty and symbolism, and each Native American nation has its own unique design, meaning and style. Today we focus on the authentic traditional designs of the Hopi and the Zuni…

Hopi JewelryThe Hopi have long been known for their distinctive silver overlay style of jewelry, alongside crafting such as Katsina carvings, weaving, and coiled basket making. Continue reading