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.

Continue reading How to Identify Antique Native American Artifacts and Artwork

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.

Continue reading Ellison “Tarzan” Brown

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.

Continue reading How to Choose the Right Thread

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.

Continue reading Making Hoops For The Hoop Dance

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.

Continue reading Abalone Shells Natural Beauty

Hand Painted Feathers

Hand Painted Eagle Feathers

Turkey Feathers Painted to Look like Eagle Feathers

Traditionally Native Americans have used feathers from a variety of birds.  They use them to decorate their clothing, jewelry, accessories and as tools, like Smudge Feathers.  When people think about Natives using feathers, they often imagine the Feather Headdresses that men from Plains tribes wear.  These Headdresses consist of rows of Eagle Feathers.

Continue reading Hand Painted Feathers

Braintanned Deerhide

Brain tanned deer skin hides

Braintanned Deerhide vs Commerically Tanned Deerhide

What is the difference between a Braintanned Deerhide and a commercially tanned Deerhide?  It is all about process and the quality of the finished product.  Commercial tanners use chemicals to soften and preserve the hide.  When they are finished, the deerhide has a smooth (top grain) and a suede side.  Sometimes these are ‘split’ to make a hide that has two suede sides.

Continue reading Braintanned Deerhide

The Gourd Dance

Gourd Dance Rattles

The Legend and the History  –  The Dance and the Regalia

This article about the Native American Gourd Dance was written by Paul R. Burke in 1989.  We are presenting it here in its original format with his permission.  Paul discusses the history of the Dance and relates several legends related to its origins.  He further discusses how the dance has been done in more recent times and describes known variations of it.  Though its origins are unclear, the dance may have originated with the Southern Plains Tribes like the Kiowa, Comanche and Cheyenne.

Get Ready to do The Gourd Dance

Accessories that are used for this dance include a wearable Blanket, Rattles (often made with real gourds) and and Bandoliers.  You will find Wool Fabric and Trade Silver Brooches  at that you can use to make your own Blanket.  Check our Accessories section for one of a kind Bandoliers.

View our selection of Rattles.  You may also like our article Gourd Dance Blankets

Check out our YouTube Video on How to Apply Trade Silver Brooches

Continue reading The Gourd Dance

Birchbark Crafting

Birchbark Crafting

Crafting with Birchbark

Items made from Birchbark

Native Americans who live in the northern regions of North America use the bark of the ‘paper’ Birch tree to make many useful and decorative items.  They use large pieces of Birchbark to cover their dwellings.  Entire canoes with wood frames are made with strips of this bark.  Birchbark rolled into a triangular tube serves as a Moose call for hunters.  Birchbark Moose Call

Crafters create a variety of containers to hold and carry food.  Rogans are a type of basket that often has a trapezoidal shape with a narrower top.  Berry Baskets come with hBirchbark Fish Creelandles to carry them.  Shallow trays or round containers with the inside treated with pitch can be used to cook food or carry liquids.  Fish Creels with small openings in the lid hold the fisherman’s catch of the day.

In more recent times, crafters started using Birchbark to make picture frames, decorative mats, decorated boxes with lids, ornaments and jewelry.


Continue reading Birchbark Crafting

The First Peoples of the Northeast

The First Peoples of the Northeast

The First Peoples of the Northeast

How long have people lived in northeastern America?  European colonists and early archaeologists tended to deny any lengthy habitation by Native Americans anywhere on the continent, but especially in the northeast.  Today we have a much better understanding of the arrival and subsequent population of this area.  Learn more about the history and research of indigenous peoples in the Northeast in these three books available at The Wandering Bull, LLC!

Continue reading The First Peoples of the Northeast

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!

Continue reading Make Your Own Eastern Woodlands Moccasins

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.

Continue reading The Basket Tree – Making Ash Baskets

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).

Continue reading Osha Root for protection energy and health

Bead Weaving with a Bead Loom

Bead Loom

Bead Weaving with a Bead Loom

Use our Ojibwa Bead Loom or our Mighty Mini Bead Loom to create strips of beadwork. After you finish your beaded strip you can use them as straps, belts, and bracelets. You can also attach beaded loom strips to other items like shirts, leggins, moccasins, and bags. Bead weaving on a loom is easy to learn to do and can be done with a variety of beads including Seed Beads, Pony Beads, and Wampum Beads.

Continue reading Bead Weaving with a Bead Loom

Lazy Stitch Beading Instructions

Lazy Stitch

Lazy Stitch Beading Instructions

About Lazy Stitch:

Native Americans of the Plains commonly use Lazy Stitch to create beaded designs on clothing and accessories. Instead of creating a Loomwork Strip that you later attach to the item, with Lazy Stitch you sew the beads directly to the fabric or leather.   The design should be drawn to actual finished scale on a piece of paper then traced onto the work surface. Designs that are going to appear on opposite sides of an item should be reversed for a mirrored effect. For example, on a vest, the design should appear as a mirror image on each side.

You can also bead directly onto a leather strip which you can later attach to your item. This technique allows for the creation of beaded designs that you can add to Blankets or Buffalo Robes, Leggings, Leather Shirts, Pipe Bags and other bags, and Wrist Cuffs.


Getting Started:

Continue reading Lazy Stitch Beading Instructions




Sweetgrass, Hierochloe Odorata, is a beautiful sacred plant growing in the northern half of the U.S., up to the arctic circle. Sometimes called Buffalo Grass or Vanilla Grass, it spreads by underground rhizomes and prefers damp lowland areas. Because of its connection to water and its sweet smell it is considered feminine. People use it for ceremonies and healing along with sage and cedar. Continue reading Sweetgrass

Buffalo Horn Choker Instructions

Horn Choker

Buffalo Horn Choker Instructions

Hairpipe chokers served many different purposes throughout history – They adorned and protected warriors’ necks before battle, and also served to represent social standing. Hairpipe Chokers made with Brass Beads are appropriate for ‘old style’ Regalia.  You can wear Hairpipe Chokers made with Glass Crow Beads with both Traditional Regalia and Contemporary Regalia.

Continue reading Buffalo Horn Choker Instructions

Traditional Hairpipe Choker Instructions

Traditional Hairpipe Choker Instructions

Hairpipe chokers served many different purposes throughout history – They adorned and protected warriors’ necks before battle, and also served to represent social standing. Hairpipe Chokers made with Brass Beads are appropriate for ‘old style’ Regalia.  You can wear Hairpipe Chokers made with Glass Crow Beads with both Traditional Regalia and Contemporary Regalia.

Continue reading Traditional Hairpipe Choker Instructions

The Denver Art Museum Leaflet Series

The Denver Art Museum Leaflet Series

These leaflets were prepared by F.H. Douglas, curator of Indian Art at the Denver Art Museum.

We have scanned them so you can read them here.  The Denver Art Museum published these leaflets between 1930 and 1957.  Each leaflet has four to eight pages. The first page carries the title and a picture relative to the subject of the leaflet. The remaining pages are devoted to the text, which is divided into boldly marked subject headings. They discuss Crafts, Tribes, Food, Housing and more. Each leaflet also contains a bibliography for further reading. Leading authorities on the various subjects were asked to approve the texts before publication.

Continue reading The Denver Art Museum Leaflet Series

Deerskin Neck Pouch Instructions

Deerskin Neck Pouch Instructions

A Leather Neck Pouch is the perfect accessory to hold your personal medicine items. It will also hold change, gemstones, and small keepsakes of all kinds. You can decorate your Leather Neck Pouch with beadwork, our own Plume Powwow Pins  or Trade Brooches !

Materials Needed:

You can acquire these materials separately or purchase a Deerskin Neck Pouch Kit from The Wandering Bull, LLC with the supplies you need to make a Deerskin Neck Pouch!

Continue reading Deerskin Neck Pouch Instructions

Crow Loop Necklace Instructions

Crow Loop

Crow Loop Necklace Instructions

The Native Americans of the Northern Plains often wear Crow Loop Necklaces.  These necklaces feature multiple strands of beads strung between two leather strips. Crafters also add Deerskin Leather fringe to the sides. Wearers add shell, metal or beaded rosette conchos to the top or the center. Additional drops can personalize each necklace.

Continue reading Crow Loop Necklace Instructions

Dreamcatcher Instructions

Dreamcatcher Instructions

Traditionally, the Ojibwe construct dream catchers or “dreamcatchers” by stringing sinew strands in a web around a small round or teardrop-shaped frame of willow. In a way, it is roughly similar to their method for making snowshoe webbing. The resulting dream catcher, hung above the bed, is used as a charm to protect sleeping people, usually children, from nightmares. Dream interpretation has directly influenced Native American cultural and spiritual beliefs for centuries.  American Indians believe dreams influence the conscious soul of the dreamer, often acting as a means for change in personality traits such as confidence, maturity, kindness, and loyalty.

Continue reading Dreamcatcher Instructions

Hand Made Dolls

Hand Made Dolls 

Hand Made Dolls

If there is a universal child’s toy, it may well be a doll.  Whether hastily made from scrap material at hand, or painstakingly made to exacting detail, dolls “speak” to our humanity.  At first glance, dolls are simple play-things… suffering the ravages of many other mere “toys”.  However, there are many other reasons dolls are created and decorated for children.  Dolls may also be used to teach children important cultural and educational lessons in dress, hair style, adornment and dexterity.

Some dolls are created for specific purposes or occasions.  Others are made with whimsy and artistic license.  There are no limits to the variety of dolls.  This author is particularly interested in beadwork as a decorative medium.  By making a basic cloth doll body, there are unlimited ways to construct and decorate these miniature personalities. Continue reading Hand Made Dolls

Reproduction Comanche Outfit

Reproduction Comanche Outfit

Reproduction Comanche Outfit Based on one Worn by Quanah Parker

Quanah Parker was born in 1845 to a Comanche Indian Chief, Peta Nocona, and his white captive wife, Cynthia Anne Parker.  Quanah became a strong and respected leader among the Comanches and other Southern Plains Native American tribes.  He led the fight against European settlers in his territory. He also led his people in negotiations with whites when he realized that continuing to fight would only lead to the annihilation of his people.Quanah Parker

In the 1980s, crafter Sam Cahoun created this reproduction of an outfit worn by Quanah Parker. The outfit consists of a Braintanned Leather Shirt, Braintanned Leather Leggings, a Breechcloth, a Bone Hairpipe Breastplate, and a Pair of Otter Hair Ties. You can see in the historical photos that Quanah would have also worn Moccasins and a Blanket and carried other accessories. Continue reading Reproduction Comanche Outfit

George Catlin and Native American Smoking Pipes

George Catlin and Native American Smoking Pipes

George Catlin and Native American Smoking Pipes

George Catlin was born in 1796. He taught himself how to paint and became an accomplished artist. In his early years, he painted portraits and created lithographs of sites in New York. Following his first trip into Native American territory in 1830 he became one of the first people to document Native American smoking pipes and their uses.  He provided commentary on the varieties of pipes and the specific decorations associated with various tribes. Continue reading George Catlin and Native American Smoking Pipes

Porcupine Roach Instructions

porcupine roach

Making a Porcupine Roach

The  Porcupine Roach is one of the most beautiful and practical headpieces of the North American Indian. Many different men’s dance styles use porcupine roaches.  The following directions will show you how to make a long porcupine roach.   You can also use the same technique to make a shorter or a round porcupine roach.

Materials Needed:

  • Porcupine hair
  • Roach Base
  • Imitation Sinew
  • Deer Tails
  • Large Needle
  • Scissors
  • Frame for tying rows of hair
  • Glass Jar/ Cup  approx. 4″ tall x 3″ wide (to hold the Porcupine hair)
  • Roach Stick (a 2.5″ dowel 6″ longer than the finished roach – with a nail in the top to hold the roach in place)
  • Elastic style bandage for wrapping completed roach

Continue reading Porcupine Roach Instructions

Native Americans and Buffalo

Native Americans and Buffalo

Native Americans and Buffalo

Native Americans and Buffalo have a long history together. Buffalo, or the American Bison, has played an essential role in the survival and culture of the Native Americans who lived in the Plains region of what is now the United States, and parts of southern Canada.  Buffalo once roamed the Plains in innumerable herds until the middle of the 19th century. Incursions by white settlers and the arrival of the railroad severely depleted the number of Buffalo living on the Plains.  Native Americans use of every part of a Buffalo for food, clothing, tools, fuel and utensils. Continue reading Native Americans and Buffalo

How to make a Cowrie Shell Necklace

Cowrie Shell Necklace 

Native Americans have traded Cowrie shells amongst themselves for hundreds of years. They use these shells to decorate their clothing and to make jewelry.  The European traders brought glass beads to trade with the Native Americans.  These beads were eagerly adopted by Natives and also used them to create jewelry. Our Cowrie shell necklace is a very traditional, yet simple necklace to make, so you can show off your new necklace in no time at all! Continue reading How to make a Cowrie Shell Necklace

Roach Spreaders – History

Roach Spreaders - History

Roach Spreaders – History

Native American men in North America wear one traditional style of headdress called a ‘Roach’. Natives have made Roaches from Whitetail Deer hair, Moose hair, Turkey Beards, Porcupine Hair, Horsehair or a combination of these. Native Americans have worn some form of Roach headdresses starting before the contact period. Early colonial writings mention these headdresses several times. These early writers sometimes referred to roaches as ‘crowns’ or ‘coronets’.

Roach Spreaders - HistoryWhen wearing a roach, men can also wear a Roach Spreader inside to spread the hair. This way they can achieve a balanced shape for the roach. In order to facilitate wearing a roach, Native American men braid one section of their hair. Continue reading Roach Spreaders – History

Women’s Hoods

Women's Hoods

Women’s Hoods

Much has been written about the peaked caps – also known as hoods – that are worn by the Wabanaki people.  Bruce Bourque and Laureen LaBar present illustrations of several of these hoods in their book “Uncommon Threads: Wabanaki Textiles, Clothing, and Costume”.  But what are they?

First, we need to understand that Wabanaki Hoods were worn by both men and women.  In this article, we will explore the women’s peaked hood.

Continue reading Women’s Hoods

Breastplate Plains Style Instructions

breastplate instructions plains style

Plains Style Breastplate 

The Hairpipe Breastplate has historically been associated with the Comanche. They were first created in the mid 19th century  and were adopted by many other tribes of the Great Plains.  The term “Hairpipe” is used to describe the long, slim, hollow beads made from animal bone that are used to make Breastplates.

How to make a Plains Style Breastplate – 36 rows long:

You can make a longer Breastplate by using more Hairpipe and longer Breastplate  strips

Continue reading Breastplate Plains Style Instructions

Chicken Dance Bell Instructions

Chicken Dance Bell Kit Instructions

It’s Easy to Make your own Chicken Dance Bells!

Use the Chicken Dance Bell Kit Instructions by The Wandering Bull Native American Trading Post to made your own Chicken Dance Bells. Chicken Dance Bells are long enough to extend from the waist to the ankle. They are tied in three places, at the ankle, just above the knee and to a belt at the waist. The Wandering Bull Trading Post has everything you need to make your own Chicken Dance Bells. Use the suggested supplies here, or customize your Chicken Dance Bells with your preferred supplies. Continue reading Chicken Dance Bell Instructions

Crafting is Fun and Good for You


Native American Crafting is Good for You

Crafting is an activity that brings different ideas to mind, depending on who is considering it. Some remember rainy day activities that involved empty containers and construction paper, others think of projects that involve buying supplies to create a particular item, and some consider it an everyday activity that is part of their lifestyle.

Crafting has had different purposes throughout human history. Creating functional objects from raw materials is certainly an important aspect of crafting. Expressing emotions, beliefs and esthetic ideals is another. Satisfying an inner desire to create by fashioning something beautiful or unexpected is a basic human trait.

What is the appeal of crafting today? Are there benefits for the crafter? Continue reading Crafting is Fun and Good for You

Eastern Woodlands Jewelry & Accessories

Eastern Woodlands Accessories

Eastern Woodlands Jewelry

Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands used many materials to create jewelry and accessories to wear and trade.   In the pre-contact period, Native Americans in the Northeast used shells, bones, stones, feathers, leather, fur and metals like copper to make necklaces, bracelets, earrings, headdresses  and sashes.  Some of these materials were fashioned into beads and pendants that were strung on leather or fiber laces. Others were simply attached to the clothing or body part that was to be adorned.

Continue reading Eastern Woodlands Jewelry & Accessories

Eastern Woodlands Native American Clothing

Eastern Woodland Regalia

Eastern Woodlands Native American Clothing

Eastern Woodlands Native American Clothing is both functional and decorative. During the pre-contact period, Eastern Native American clothing was made from animal leather and furs.  When European trade goods arrived in Northeastern North America, the Native Americans eagerly adopted wool, cotton, linen, ribbons and beads to use for their own clothing. But while they began to use different materials, their clothing style remained essentially unchanged to allow them to move freely in their Woodland environment.

Continue reading Eastern Woodlands Native American Clothing

Make Your Own Bolo Tie!

Silver Bolo Tie

What is a Bolo Tie?

A Bolo TieSilver Bolo Tie is kind of a cross between a necktie and a necklace.  They are often made with a braided leather cord with decorative metal tips on the ends.  The focus of the Bolo Tie is a slide that features a decorative item like a stone cabochon, a beaded rosette, a silver concho, or other items that have a flat back that you can attach to the slide. Continue reading Make Your Own Bolo Tie!

Deerskin Lacing & Lace Maker Tool

Deerskin Lacing - Lace Maker Tool

Deerskin Lacing for Native American Crafts

Deerskin lacing is great for Native American craft-making. You can use it for stringing and tying jewelry (chokers, bracelets and more), garment lacing, making fringe, braiding a headband, or wrapping a metal ring to make a dream catcher. These are just a few examples of uses for soft deerskin leather lace. Here at The Wandering Bull, LLC we cut our own Top Grain Deerskin into Continue reading Deerskin Lacing & Lace Maker Tool

Native American Ribbon Shirts

Native American Ribbon Shirt

Native American Ribbon Shirts – Origins

Native American Ribbon Shirts are Regalia items that are worn by Native American people of many tribes and traditions.  The shirts developed from European Trade Shirts that were usually made of cotton or linen fabric. Silk ribbons were another of the trade goods brought to North America by the Europeans. The bright colors of the ribbons made them very popular among Native Americans.  In the 1800s calico fabric became available and Native Americans also made clothing from that colorful patterned cloth. Continue reading Native American Ribbon Shirts

Native American Dance Shawls

Native American Dance Shawls

Native American Dance Shawls

Native American Dance Shawls are a regalia item you will always see at Powwows. Whether simple or fancy, most women wear them or carry them on their arms.  Many Powwow circles do not allow women into the circle if they are not wearing or carrying a shawl.

Dance Shawls are not a pre-contact clothing item.  They were likely adapted from women’s blankets. They are made of fabric with fringe or ribbons decorating the edges.  Fancy Shawls feature beadwork or fabric or ribbon applique along with colorful fringe.

Continue reading Native American Dance Shawls

Antique Moccasins: Montaignais Naskapi

Antique Algonquin moccasins

Identifying Antique Moccasins

Antique MoccasinsThis pair of antique moccasins was crafted in the early 20th century.  The crafter was probably a Northeastern Algonquin from the eastern part of Canada.  Their origin is determined by the construction and decoration of the moccasins.

The moccasins themselves are constructed with Braintanned Deerskin.  Native Americans tanned their own deerhides using the brain of the animal to soften the hide.  After it was soaked and worked, it was smoked to preserve it.  Until Europeans brought commercial tanning methods to North America, all animal leather was braintanned.  The moccasins were sewn together with cotton thread instead of real animal sinew, so they were created in the historical period. Continue reading Antique Moccasins: Montaignais Naskapi

18th Century Early American Ruffled Shirts

Ruffled Shirts

Early American Men’s Shirts

Early American Men’s Shirts served a purpose. It was made in a pullover style with one button at the neck. They were worn as an undergarment to absorb bodily dirt and oil at a time when laundering clothes and washing the body were not a frequent occurrence. The shirt was knee length which was necessary because the shirt was also used as a night shirt and was the only form of underwear worn by most men.

Continue reading 18th Century Early American Ruffled Shirts

Bead Looms – History and Usage

Andy Bullock Loomwork

Bead Looms & Beadwork History

Native American beadwork, like quill work before it, is a decorative art form.   Almost as soon as seed beads were available, native women invented two techniques for using them: loom beading and applique embroidery. Those two techniques are still in use today. Loom-beading and a form of single-needle weaving (peyote beading) are not adaptations of techniques known to European or other cultures –  they are native inventions. Continue reading Bead Looms – History and Usage

Seed Beads in North America

seed beads

Seed Beads in North America

The variety of beads introduced to North America is vast. Small glass beads are often known as Seed Beads. Italy was one of the most prolific manufacturers of these small glass beads. Most of these beads were made using the “drawn” method. A glass blower would blow a bubble in a molten blob of glass. Other workers, often young boys, would grasp the soft glass bubble and pull it into a long thin tube. The air bubble would create the hole going the length of the tube. Some references state that these tubes could be up to 150 feet long. The tube would be broken into small pieces after it cooled. Finally, the pieces were reheated, and tumbled to smooth the edges. Finished beads were sorted by size. Continue reading Seed Beads in North America

Real Animal Sinew and Imitation Sinew

Real Sinew and Imitation Sinew

What Is Real Animal Sinew?

Sinew is a fibrous band of tissue also known as a tendon. Tendons connect muscles to bones in animals. These fibers have been used by many pre-industrial societies because they are strong and durable. Real animal sinew has unique properties which make it an excellent material for sewing and binding. It contains natural proteins that act like glue and it shrinks as it dries, so it doesn’t need to be knotted. Continue reading Real Animal Sinew and Imitation Sinew

Wandering Bull Native American Craft Store

Wandering Bull Native American Craft Store

History of The Wandering Bull, A Native American Craft StoreWandering Bull Trading Post

The Wandering Bull was started by Paul and Harriett Bullock with a card table at powwows around 1969. With six children, four sets of dance bustles in a VW bus, and a love for our culture, we never stopped growing. As the family became more involved in powwows, the kids encouraged us to develop a small part time business.  These sales enabled us to attend powwows and pay for gasoline, food etc.  Although everything was informal, these were the beginnings of The Wandering Bull. Continue reading Wandering Bull Native American Craft Store

Catlinite History

Catlinite Pipe

Catlinite History

Catlinite is also known as Pipestone. It is a red stone that is easy to carve because it doesn’t have a lot of quartz in it. It can be worked with carving tools and knives.  Its red color comes from iron in the soil.  The name Catlinite first came into use after the painter, George Catlin, visited the stone quarries in 1835.  George Catlin recorded a legend about the origin of using Catlinite to make pipes, where the Great Spirit told the tribes that this stone must only be used to make pipes. Continue reading Catlinite History

Native American Trade Beads History

Native American Trade Beads History

The first European explorers and colonists gave Native Americans glass and ceramic beads as gifts and used beads for trade with them. Native Americans had made bone, shell, and stone beads long before the Europeans arrived in North America, and continued to do so. However, European glass beads, mostly from Venice, some from Holland and, later, from Poland and Czechoslovakia, became popular and sought after by Native Americans. Europeans realized early on that beads were important to Native Americans and corporations such as the Hudson Bay Trading Company developed lucrative bead-trading markets with them. The Hudson Bay Trading Company was an organized group of explorers who ventured into the North American continent for trade expeditions during the 19th century. Continue reading Native American Trade Beads History

Bone Hairpipe History

Bone Hairpipe

Bone Hairpipe History – Not Just Bone!

Bone Hairpipe history is long in North America.  Thousands of years before Bone Hairpipe became popular, tube shaped beads, often tapered at both ends, were used as decorative elements by the Native Americans of North America.  Some of the earliest tube beads were made from conch shells and were highly valued. Tube beads were also made from bird bones and copper during the prehistoric period. Continue reading Bone Hairpipe History

Turkey Feathers History

Primary Turkey Wing

A Little Turkey Feathers History

When Europeans first encountered turkeys in America, they incorrectly identified the birds as a type of guinea fowl (birds which were thought to typically come from the country of Turkey.) The name of the North American bird then became “turkey fowl”, which was then shortened to turkey. Wild turkey is native to North American in an area ranging from Northern Mexico to the Eastern United States. The wild turkey nearly disappeared in the early 1900s due to over hunting and clearing for farmland. Continue reading Turkey Feathers History

Jingle Cones

Jingle Cones - Our Own

What are Jingle Cones?

Jingle Cones are metal discs that are rolled to create a cone shape, with one end narrower than the other. They have been traditionally used by Native Americans to sew on women’s dresses that are worn for the Jingle Dress Dance.  These metal cones make a jingling sound when the dancer moves. Continue reading Jingle Cones

Dream Catchers

Dream Catchers

The Legend of Dream Catchers

Traditionally, the Ojibwe construct dream catchers or “dreamcatchers” by stringing sinew strands in a web around a small round or tear-shaped frame of willow. In a way, it is roughly similar to their method for making snowshoe webbing. The resulting dream catcher, hung above the bed, is used as a charm to protect sleeping people, usually children, from nightmares. Continue reading Dream Catchers

White Sage Smudging How To

Wandering Bull Botanicals

White Sage for Smudging Rituals

White Sage Smudging SticksWhite sage for Smudging can be rolled into a smudge stick or left loose in a small pile for purification and cleansing rituals. Smudging rituals are done in several ways. You may see dancers being smudged before they enter the dance circle at a Powwow. White sage is also used in purification rituals on individuals who require healing for physical or psychological illness. Rooms in a new house, or a meditation space can be smudged to cleanse them of negative energy.  Ritual items like crystals can also be smudged to clear them of negative energy. Continue reading White Sage Smudging How To

Wampum Beads History

Wandering Bull Wampum

What are Wampum Beads?

Wampum shell discs pendants
Wampum shells and discs

Wampum beads include the white shell beads fashioned from the North Atlantic channeled whelk shell, a sea snail with a spiral shape; and the white and purple beads made from the quahog, or Western North Atlantic hard-shelled clam. Quahogs are found in the waters from Cape Cod south to New York, with a great abundance in Long Island Sound. Wampum were used by the northeastern Native Americans as a form of gift exchange. European traders and politicians, using beads and trinkets, often exploited gift exchange to gain Native American favor or territory. With the scarcity of metal coins in New England, Wampum quickly evolved into a formal currency after European/Native contact, its production greatly facilitated by slender European metal drill bits. Wampum was mass produced in coastal southern New England. The Narragansetts and Pequots monopolized the manufacture and exchange of wampum in this area. Continue reading Wampum Beads History