The Native American people had many traditions and beliefs that have carried over into today’s culture and society. They have brought with them their unique craftsmanship in jewelry making, pottery, basket weaving, and much more. There are several uses for Native American crafts today. Let’s look at just a few different ways that western society has tapped into the artistic craftsmanship of the Native American people.
Teaching in the classroom
Many teachers today are using some of the crafts that were made by Native American people in teaching their students more about different cultures. Although this is just one culture that has left its mark on western society it is one that we have access to hundreds of different types of crafts, legends, and more. Because so much symbolism lies behind the Native American crafts they are easy to use as teaching aids in a social studies unit or around the Thanksgiving holiday time period. Here are just a few ideas for using Native American crafts in the classroom:
1. Kachina Dolls- Kachina dolls originated in what is now the southwestern United States. They are meant to be a representation of the spirits in traditional Native American culture, more specifically used to plant a good harvest. These go great with lessons around Thanksgiving because that’s why we celebrate it; the good harvest and the coming together of the Pilgrims and the Indians.
2. Dream Catchers- These are a hit with school kids. There are several different kind you can make too so finding one that will fit the skill level of younger and older children is fairly easy. The legend behind them is that they are hung over or beside beds so that they can catch the bad dreams and only let the good ones through.
3. Rain sticks- Rain sticks are another type of Native American craft that can be used in teaching in the classroom. They were ritually used in South American shamanic ceremonies for what is believed to be energetic cleansing. Kids love making them because they make such a cool sound when you turn them.
Many of the authentic Native American crafts have already been preserved and used in several historical museums around the world. There are some people that travel hundreds of miles just to see their ancestors craftsmanship on display. Although these crafts are not quite like the ones you can make at school, they serve a valuable purpose of preserving part of history with the Native American people.
For fun and decoration
One of the best things about making crafts of any type is that they are fun to make and can be used as home and body decor. Many of the Native American crafts have to do with making beaded jewelry, bracelets, necklaces, etc. It was believed that in one of the Native American tribes women would make beaded necklaces every year, adding to it until they turned 40 years old. Hundreds of people today love buying and making beaded jewelry and can be found wearing it daily. And of course some of the most brilliant pieces of Native American history are the crafts made to decorate ones home. From wall hangings, to weaved basketry there are so many ways you can decorate the inside of your home with Native American crafts.
So as you can see there is more than one use for Native American crafts. If you put your mind to it and use your imagination you could probably think of several more.