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.
Native Americans created pendants with two holes in them from shell, slate or shale stone. These were strung with lacing and worn around the neck. The Europeans brought metal gorgets as part of their military uniforms and these gorgets were prized trade goods. Native Americans eagerly adopted these metal gorgets and considered them prized possessions. The Wandering Bull – Native American Trading Post offers Gorgets in plain and stamped styles. Our Copper Swallow Gorget is inspired by an artifact found here in New Hampshire.
Prior to the arrival of European trade goods, Native Americans adorned their arms with tattoos, quilled cuffs and bracelets made of copper and bone. European traders brought metal, especially silver, that Native Americans used to create armbands. Metal Armbands could be simple, narrow bands or stamped and decorated. Armbands were also made of beaded leather strips or finger woven wool. You will find Plain Metal Armbands and Stamped Metal Armbands for your Native American Regalia at The Wandering Bull – Native American Trading Post.
Native Americans created ear jewelry in a variety of styles, from simple metal loops with beads or pendants dangling from them, to round ear plugs or ear spools. This type of jewelry was also worn in piercings through the septum of their noses. At The Wandering Bull – Native American Trading Post, you will find historically inspired Earrings in Ball & Cone styles, Coiled Copper Wire Pendant styles and Ear Wheels. For contemporary wear, we have a selection of earrings made with real Quahog wampum pendants.
Native Americans who lived on the Northeast Coast created distinctive beads from the shells of the Quahog clam and Whelk snails. These purple and white beads are known as wampum. Early wampum beads were disc shaped and strung in simple strands. When tube shaped wampum beads made from shell and glass were available, they were strung together with a loom and made into belts. Patterns were created by using one color bead as the background and the other for contrast. Some of these belts were used to convey messages of war or peace. Wampum belts became symbols of status. Wampum Belts were used as straps for bags or worn as sashes. The Wandering Bull – Native American Trading Post has several Wampum Belts that were created by Master Craftsman Andy Bullock. We also sell several types of Reproduction Wampum Beads so you can make your own Wampum Belts!
Large feather bonnets were not customary wear for Native Americans from the Northeastern Woodlands, but they did wear other headdresses. Native American Gustowehs (real hat) are caps decorated with turkey feathers and eagle feathers. They can be decorated with metal Gustoweh Bands or Trade Silver Brooches.
Porcupine Roaches are headdresses made with porcupine hair, deer hair and sometimes turkey beards. The hair of a roach stands straight up. Round Roaches were attached to a scalp lock at the back of the head. Long roaches are fastened to the head with leather lacing and are worn with a roach spreader that spreads the hair out.
Necklaces were made from a wide variety of materials. Pendants were made from Bone, Shell, Stone, and Metal. Beads made from shell (including Quahog wampum), stone, metal, wood and glass were strung in single or multiple strands. More elaborate necklaces were made by stringing Bear Claws or Bird Claws. At The Wandering Bull – Native American Trading Post, the variety of necklaces is even more expansive! Beaded Rosette Necklaces, Hairpipe Chokers, Northern Plains Loop Necklaces, our own Legend Necklaces, and many pendant necklaces are available.