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How to Identify Antique Native American Artifacts and Artwork

Antique beaded items.

Tips to identify antique vs reproduction pieces of Native American art and craftwork.

Older items will show their age in specific ways. Things to look for:

  1. Wear in the right places
  2. Changes in color from light and air exposure
  3. Bug damage
  4. Metal will have small dings or scratches and aged patina
  5. Small breaks and tears in materials
  6. Antique beads are much less uniform than newer Czech beads
  7. The item is only as old as the newest material used.

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Ellison “Tarzan” Brown

Ellison "Tarzan" Brown

Indian Marathon Runner

By Grace M. Dowdell (Narragansett)

Permission to reprint was granted to Tomaquag Museum by author on August 29, 2008 and they have given The Wandering Bull, LLC permission to share the article on our website. To purchase a copy of this booklet you can visit the Tomaquag Museum online book shop.


Ellison Tarzan Brown, direct descendent of the once great Narragansett Indian Tribe, who in spite of his humble beginnings and obstacles placed in his path, was able to overcome these great odds to become the greatest marathon runner in his time. Winner of two Boston marathons, he became the number one contender for the three-man team selected to represent the United States in the 1936 World Olympics.

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How to Choose the Right Thread

Types of thread

Choosing the best thread for your next project

What is the difference between types of thread? How do you choose the right thread for your craft project? The color of thread you use can change the look of your beadwork. If you are using a lot of translucent beads you may want a white thread. If you want a dark background on your loom work, use black. In this article we will go over the threads we offer and their uses.

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Making Hoops For The Hoop Dance

Hoop Dancer at Memorial Day Powwow.

Learn to make inexpensive hoops that stand out

This article was originally published in Spring of 1988 in Whispering Wind Magazine by Art Tate.

The hoop dance is one of those special dances which enlivens any program or powwow. I have also found that it is a superb way to teach advanced Indian dancing to young people. Finding hoops can sometimes be a problem; and buying them can be expensive if you can find a source. This article will explain a simple, inexpensive and effective way to make hoops. And, of all the various hoops I have found, these are the most satisfactory for dancing.

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Abalone Shells Natural Beauty

What is Abalone?

Abalone are large sea mollusks (snails) that inhabit colder waters all over the world.  Abalone eat seaweed such as kelp. The different varieties it eats creates the different colors in the shells as they grow. Each layer contains calcium carbonate making the shell extremely strong.  The outside of these ear-shaped shells is often a host for barnacles algae and other invertebrates. The shells have holes in them which are respiratory openings for venting water from the gills. As the animal gets older the shell grows with them in a spiral pattern and the holes close up. Abalones can repair minor damage to their shells done by otters or humans trying to remove them from rocks, because of this they are a symbol of strength and healing.

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Make Your Own Eastern Woodlands Moccasins

Eastern Woodlands Moccasins

Make a basic pair of pucker-toe softsole moccasin with cuffs. Cuffs can be worn down or tied up for extra protection. Everyday moccasins were left plain, but they can be decorated with beads, ribbon or wool. You will need Leather and 1/8″ leather lacing, paper for the patters, awl, scissors and marking pen. We have an Eastern woodland’s Moccasin Kit with the materials you need to make your own!

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The Basket Tree – Making Ash Baskets

Basket Ash Rectangle with Handle

The Basket Tree

One of the oldest crafts in Native American culture is basket making. The tribes in the northeast make baskets out of many materials including birch bark, split wood of ash trees and sweet grass, the strongest being those made from the wood of brown or black ash trees, known as basket trees.

These slow growing trees are found along streams and in bogs and swaps only in the Northeastern United States and Southeastern Canada. The wet landscapes they grow in produce more flexible strands good for weaving.

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Osha Root for protection energy and health

What is Osha Root?


For more than a  millennia, Osha Root has been used by Native Americans. This perennial herb is found in deep rich soil in the mountains of the US and Mexico and is known by many different names: osha root, Porter’s lovage, Porter’s licorice-root, Porter’s wild lovage, Porter’s ligusticum, bear medicine, bear root, lovage, wild lovage, Indian root, Indian parsley, wild parsley, mountain ginseng, mountain carrot, nipo, empress of the dark forest, overoot, Colorado cough root, chuchupate, chuchupati, chuchupaste, chuchupatle, guariaca, hierba del cochino or yerba de cochino, raíz del cochino, and washí (tarahumara).

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