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Jewelry of North American Nations: Cherokee


Black Hills Gold Ring LR2874

The Cherokees' heritage is evident in the style of their jewelry


The most commonly known locale that people connect with the Cherokee Indians are the states of North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. However, before they settled in the Southeastern United States, it is believed that they came from the Great Lakes area where the Iroquois lived. The Cherokees nowadays are the largest Indian tribe with an estimated more than 300,000 members. They are divided into several different tribes that organize themselves with their own government. The Cherokee Nation is one of the larger tribe and they live in Oklahoma.

Check out this website for more information about the Cherokee Indian nation

Like in so many other parts of the world, the original forms of jewelry made by the Cherokee involved beads, shells, and nuts; and with the invention of metals, copper, gold and silver became another source material to make jewelry. Much of the Cherokee jewelry incorporates turquoise, a blue or green gemstone that several other Indian tribes use to make artful necklaces, rings, belt buckles or the like. Cherokee jewelry items were very popular for trading with the European settlers during the early 17th century. In fact, their bead-work, primarily bags, developed into such fine art, it was sought after by many including chiefs of other Indian tribes.

Cherokee Bead-work and Turquoise Jewelry


Bead-work has remained one of Cherokees’ best-known expressions of art. The red and black swirl is a popular motif, as it represents the sun’s power and fire. Other motifs for Cherokee jewelry include traditional symbols and letters, arrowheads, wolves and eagles. Many of the Cherokee jewelry items are made of sterling silver and incorporate gemstones, frequently turquoise. Here are some examples of Cherokee jewelry:

Cherokee journey earrings
Sterling Silver Cherokee Journey Earrings

Cherokee eagle pendant
Sterling Silver Cherokee Eagle Pendant with Amber Gemstone

(
photos compliments of www.cherokeejewelry.com)

Eagles are an important symbol in native American culture as they are recognized as a messenger of the creator, and are likewise relied upon to communicate our actions to the creator. Not surprisingly, the eagle is a very popular motif for jewelry across various types and makes, not just native American jewelry. Eagles represent strength and freedom and though more often found on mens rings, pins and belt buckles, they are also suitable for the ladies as well. Here is an example of a mens Black Hills Gold eagle ring with an onyx inset made by Landstroms:

Mens gold eagle ring

The MR477 mens eagle ring above also has a women’s version; both feature the signature pink and green grape leaves on its sides, and is a prime piece of jewelry made by Landstroms. While Black Hills Gold jewelry was not originate by native Americans, it is a 100% American art form and is still made today, by hand, in the black Hills of South Dakota.

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