Native American Designs & Artwork

Published on June 29, 2011 by Amy

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Native American Beadded Earrings
Native American beads

According to American history information website, The Wild West, the styles and designs of Native American artwork are as numerous and varied as the tribes of people represented by the artwork. Artwork and design were used for a variety of reasons with Native American Artwork reporting items found in nature were used to create artwork in pottery, clothing, beads and cave drawings.

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Purdue University’s College of Liberal Arts describes Native American history in North America having no agreed upon start date. It is believed by scholars Native Americans traveled north from South and Central America or traveled across the land bridge into Canada from Asia sometime between 25,000 and 8,000 BC. According to Purdue University, sometime around the first century BC the beginnings of agriculture changed the Native American lifestyle from nomadic to settled in tribal regions. Agriculture also brought about the reliance on seeds that is represented in Native American artwork.


Mountain City Elementary Schools information on Native American Tribal designs explains that the majority of designs were based on everyday objects and situations. The Great Lakes Tribes are described by Mountain City Elementary as using natural objects such as flowers, leaves and stems that were stitched into clothing and bags. Other tribes such as the Winnebago used simple symmetrical floral designs while the Inuit created stone sculptures based on animals such as the wolf and polar bear that were visible in everyday life.


The Native American Plains tribes are reported by Mountain City Elementary as being the most famous creators of native American Art. The use of buffalo hide was common in the artwork produced on the plains and was used to design a number of items including clothing, housing, belts, moccasins, beds and shields. These items were decorated with geometric designs using stripes, diamonds, crosses, arrows, stars and, in some cases, hunting scenes.


According to Native American Artwork, beads are an important part of Native American art, replacing quilt making as one of the premier arts following the arrival of agriculture in Native American History. Beads are created in the days since the Spanish discovery of America from glass, but prior to this beads were produced from shells, coral, copper and wood. Purdue university explains pottery became an important art form to native American peoples that began as simple storage devices and quickly became important religious artifacts. Designs used on pottery included animal and plant forms revered by Native American people such as gods, humans, animals and birds.

Bead Designs

The production of beads can be grouped into two types according to Native American Artwork. The types listed are beaded leather and beaded strands with beads attached either individually or in loops using strings or mesh. Beaded leather was used predominantly for clothing, moccasins and containers while strands were created in designs for jewelry and to cover items in an ornamental fashion.

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Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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