Native American Belts

Published on January 5, 2012 by Amy

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Native American Concho Belts
Native American Concho Belts

Another craft of the Native American culture that is still seen and widely used to this day are Native American belts. The most famous Native American belts from thousands of years back in history are what are called Indian wampum belts. These belts were crafted with the same expertise and precision as all Native American crafts and this also helped to show their strong pride among their tribes and their Native American culture.

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When the Natives crafted these wampum belts they originally used two different colored beads that were actually small white shell beads, which is what wampum means. The Natives would craft these shells into the small beads, some of them were white, from the Whelk shell, and there were also purplish-black beads which came from the Quahog shell. Early beads were sloppily crafted due to primitive tools but as Europeans arrived and they were introduced to better tools the beads quality became much better and the craft soon became much more refined.

The Native Americans were already master finger weavers so making the belts was the same as weaving a blanket or rug, and then they started weaving these beads into the belts. These Native American belts kept evolving and eventually when bright colorful glass beads were introduced to the Native Americans the Native American belts became much more bright and colorful. These belts were another of the beautiful Native American crafts that provided them great commodity for trade to the European settlers.

Native American belts were also given to important visitors that would frequent the peaceful Indian tribes on their travels, and the more notable the person the more extravagant the belt. In today’s society you can still find traditional American Indian belts that are made throughout the country by Indian women that want to preserve the art of Native American weaving and other such crafts.

There are many places that make Native American looking belts that are just mass produced but to obtain a true Native American hand crafted belt is a great collectors item since they are not as readily available as they were in the past. Owning a one of a kind Native belt or other craft truly owns a piece of Americana history.

Source: native-net Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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