Native American Indian Cultural Vacation Spots

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Native American Indian Cultural Vacation Spots

Some vacations are all about relaxing somewhere nice; you don’t need to learn anything, and you don’t need to do anything. However, sometimes it’s nice to take a vacation where you learn something new. I’ve taken a few vacations in the US where I just wanted to learn about Indian culture all over the country.

The US is a gigantic country. There is a joke that it’s the only place where you can move 3000 miles away and still be in the same country. Because of the massive size of the country, many Indian tribes did not have anything to do with each other, so their cultures never influenced each other. The Indians of the American Southwest are quite different than the Indians of the Northeast. But here are a few of my favorite Native American Cultural Vacation Spots.

New Mexico

New Mexico has one of the most interesting populations of Navajo people in the US. The city of Santa Fe is a wonderful glimpse into the culture that dominated the area hundreds of years ago. The turquoise jewelry is the hallmark of this tribe, and the beautiful designs and paintings that cover the rocks draw the eyes as well.

In addition, if you’re in New Mexico you might want to take a trip up north to Southern Colorado. There, you will find the Pueblo city of Mesa Verde. This tribe built clay houses right into the sides of the mountains, hundreds and hundreds of feet in the air. These “mesas” or “tables” hold large villages that were home to hundreds of people. They were mostly safe from invasion, and were protected by layers of ladders that traced the area. If you’re a thrill seeker, you’ll love the Pueblo dwellings.

Virginia

The first contact that the British colonies had with Native Americans was around the area that is now known as Virginia. These were the Powhatan Indians. Pocahontas is the most famous member of this tribe. Near Williamsburg, VA you will find an abundance of cultural history, both of the US and of the Native Americans. Jamestown features dig sites that constantly unearth pottery, and evidence of trade between the Englishman and the Indians. These tribes were largely matriarchal, and had views we would consider differently today in many cases. For example, they viewed menstruation positively, as a sign of new life and replacement of the old. This view is held today by Top Ladies Secret and other sites as well. We can learn a lot from their views!

Other Cultural Spots

You can find amazing cultural heritage in other places in the US as well, such as Alaska, Tennessee, and Kansas. Native Americans left their mark on the United States in the big way; most of the states are named after the tribes that once lived there. Anywhere you travel in the US, you will find cultural landmarks that point all the way back to the days of the Native Americans. Don’t just pass these by; take some time to learn about them!

Native American Clothing: What Native Americans Wore?

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Native American Clothing: What Native Americans Wore?

Long before the Western Europeans set foot in the vast North America, Native Americans already have their clothing styles that were influenced by utility more than fashion and artistry. Almost every tribe had its own unique style of dress, and usually tribe members could be distinguished by simply looking at their traditional clothing, ornamentation, and headdresses. The clothing style would eventually change with the arrival and influence of Western Europeans.

Native Americans made use of indigenous materials that were available to their tribes. Many tribes used animal hides for their clothing, which they used when hunting. Other tribes like the Iroquois and Cherokee used deerskin. While the Inuit from Alaska used caribou or seal skin, and the Plains Indians wore buffalo skin. Other tribes such as the Apache and Navajo made clothing from weaving thread and plants. They also learned how to weave tunics and blankets. Of course, you don’t expect these woven threads to be as crease-free as the clothes we now have. Obviously, they used crude materials for ‘ironing’ their clothes as there were no steam irons at that time (here’s a link to steaming iron reviews).

Breechcloths, which were a rectangular piece of cloth or hide tucked over a belt, were common clothing worn by men in many Native American tribes. The cloth flaps fell down in front and behind to cover their genitals. During cold climates, men wear leather leggings. In some tribes, men wore fur trousers or short kilt instead the usual breechcloths. Not all Native American tribes used shirts. For instance, Plains Indian warrior had special buckskin war shirts that were decorated with intricate beadwork and quillwork as well as ermine hair and tail.

As with men, Native American women wore clothing for utility and not for fashion. Native Indian women also wore skirts and leggings, but the design, length and material varied depending on the tribe. Women’s shirt was optional for many tribes and used them more like coats. In other tribes, American Indian dresses were one-piece clothing that was worn overhead.

For the footwear, nearly all tribes used mukluk (a heavy boot) or a moccasin (a sturdy leather shoe). The designs and styles of the footwear varied depending on the tribe. There were also additional clothes that were used on certain occasions or climates. For instance, many tribes wore cloaks during cold climates, while some northern tribes used fur parkas. The tribes differ greatly in terms of formal clothing and headgear, which were different in every tribe. Usually, headgear complimented the hairstyles of the natives.

A dramatic evolution in the clothes of Native Americans was seen after colonization. While the colonizers did not bring technologically advanced equipment, such as a flat iron or even a one of Rowenta steam irons, the colonizer’s culture and fashion sense has greatly influenced the Native American’s clothing style. Native Indians started to adapt some European design styles into their own designs. Aside from this, there was also mingling among the different Indian tribes. As they were forcibly evicted from their lands, the natives were also forced to live close to each other resulting in the merging of tribal dress styles. Post-colonial native dresses were reflective of the colonizer’s clothing style. Fashion became the main driver of new clothing styles. Soon, the Native Indian clothes such as headdresses, breechcloths, leggings and dance shawls became decorative, often worn only during religious ceremonies and powwows. Native American Indians used regalia for traditional clothes there were worn only on special, ceremonial occasions.

Interesting and amazing Native American customs

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Interesting and amazing Native American customsIt is always interesting to delve into the past and find about the culture, life, and ways of our ancestors. From the early civilization to the present day culture, there have been many changes for the better and sometimes for worse too. Nevertheless knowing about a particular tribe’s culture helps in understanding their way of life and gives us a glimpse of the world that was at that particular time. Native American customs form a part of their culture. They have evolved from their spiritual traditions and beliefs. Here are a few of the intriguing customs:

Medicine man

In Native American custom, the medicine man features prominently. While the names may vary based on the particular tribe, they were mostly decided based on the person’s character, animals, natural environment, and certain other factors. The medicine men were healers who performed rituals to ward off evil and cure illnesses in persons. Bloodletting was a common procedure used by the medicine men to treat back pain, headaches, and other illnesses.

Totem animal

Native Americans believed that each human being possesses an inherent animal presence or force such as bear, wolf, or eagle. This is a chief identity used by a tribe and is subject to many controversies and superstitions. The animal names were taken up to serve as guardian angel for them. This animal symbolism has been linked to astrology and is representative of the culture, customs and natural influences.

Dancing

Most of the celebrations in the Native American communities featured ritual dances in which men and women took part. Mostly the dances were performed to celebrate victory in battle. The blowing of conches was also done to indicate victory. Empty conch shells were also used as calling bells.

Nowadays with the huge technological advancements, we have sophisticated door bells, free of wires to ensure safety in homes. In addition to victory dances, joyous occasions such as weddings, religious festivals, and corn harvest were considered important and dancing was held at such events. The bravery of the soldiers in battles can be seen depicted clearly in the dances, which mimicked the fighting sequences in them.

Painting in sand

Based on the Navajo beliefs, the sand paintings were the gift bestowed upon the natives by the holy people. The paintings were done with a blend of gypsum, ochre, red sandstone, and charcoal and mixed using different techniques. The paintings created on a smooth sand base turned into a custom followed by several tribes. For added color, crushed flower petals as well as cornmeal was included. The paintings are connected to Navajo mythology and symbolize healing, harvest and other joyous events. Legendary visions, sacred mountains, and traditional dances are commonly featured in these paintings.

Sky, Great Spirit and Earth

Wakan-Taka, the Great Spirit is the core of universe and is present inside every person, according to the Native Americans and most customs followed by them revolve around this concept. Men and women thank the Great Spirit for their existence. The revered circle symbolized by rotating earth, stars and elements are related to the Great Spirit. The spirit was believed to wield control over stones, clouds, trees, animals and everything on earth.

Native Americans’ Traditional Fishing Techniques

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Aside from hunting and farming, fishing is another essential life skill that every adult Native American had to learn. But unlike the fishing that we now know (complete with spinning reels, a fishing rod and a bait), ancient fishing methods of the Native Americans were completely different.

Native Americans lacked conventional tools so they devised ingenious ways of catching fish. Had there been modern spinning reels, like the ones found at SpinningReelPro.com, things would have been much different.

The first settlers from the New World were impressed at how skillful at fishing the natives were. Their fishing techniques relied on indigenous materials and were especially designed for shallow waters. Since they had no metals, the natives used net-like obstructions (weirs) made of woven or tied weeds to catch or impound fish. They carefully placed weirs across channels or streams where fish most likely pass through. The weirs were made of tied or woven reeds, and are anchored to the sand using poles. The top of these crude fish nets extended above the water and appeared like fences. The patterns are carefully designed and weirs are arranged to ensure fish are impounded.

Besides using weirs, the natives, particularly men, were good at spear fishing. Spear fishing was a skill reserved for men, meanwhile women employed simple string with a hook for catching fish. Spring and winter proved to be the perfect time for spear fishing. Once the lakes froze, the natives cut a hole through the ice where they let down their hand crafted lures made of bones or woods. They peek through the hole in the ice, thereby covering the incoming light and providing them better view of the fish beneath.

Natives used different implements for spear fishing depending on the size of the fish they were catching. Before they started using metal and copper, the tips were made of sharpened wood or stick. The shafts were also made from wood. For small fishes, three-pronged spears were used.

During spring, the Native Americans rode canoes as they went spear fishing. The natives went spear fishing at night and used fire torches to light up the water’s surface. They traversed shallow waters. Usually, they stood for long periods of time while waiting for the perfect moment to let out the spear.

Nowadays, the traditional fishing techniques of Native Americans are not commonly used because of the much easier and more versatile fishing reel and rod. You can choose from the different saltwater spinning reel by visiting this site. Aside from fishing rod and reel, there are also modern methods of spear fishing. There are spear guns used for spear fishing, usually done with scuba diving. Due to environmental concerns, fishing may also be restricted to designated fishing areas.

What Colors Meant to the Native Americans?

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Native American paintings reveal so much about the culture and life of our ancestors. Like any other art forms, Native American paintings are replete with both physical and spiritual representations. Indians traditionally painted everyday items such as clothing, pottery, woodcrafts, and even cave walls and tipi covers. The most notable of all woodcrafts are the Totem Poles. But unlike today where we have power tools, such as air compressors with adjustable nozzle (visit this site for more details), that make painting much easier, ancient Indian tribes manually painted their pieces using rudimentary tools.

color-wheelWhile a great chunk of Native Indian art has not survived time, many ancient symbols are still used today as tattoo designs. They are also depicted on numerous objects such as clothes, tepees, and custom art. A lot of us appreciate this ancient art symbols, particularly Totem Poles, but do we really know their meaning, much less the significance of the colors they used?

Native American Indians used colors to show the meanings in their Totem Poles. There are many different tribes and each associate unique meaning to colors. Red color symbolizes life, power, blood, war, strength, energy, and success in war. It may also represent beauty and happiness. In totem poles, red is frequently seen as the scarlet tanager, the crest of a red-headed woodpecker, or the tongue of an animal.

White and other light colors are used as background. They represent the spacious heavens and the skies. It also means peace, purity and death.

In Native Indian art, black is a “living” color and usually used as face paint for war. It is very aggressive and stood for power and strength. They are often used to define lines in Totem Poles. They used mud from sulphur springs and other earth deposits for color black.

Blue symbolizes the skies as well as the waters, lakes and rivers. Some tribes use dark blue to signify mountains as seen from a distance. The color represents happiness and sincerity. Native Indians derived the color from berries. Sometimes they used western pigments and clay that lent different hues of blue.

Predominant in their surroundings, yellow is a perennial color in Totem Poles and represents happiness, sun and light. Native Indians source yellow dye from tree moss, clays, tannic barks, and roots.

The trees, the hills, the earth, and the mountains are represented by the color green. These natural features are predominant in Indian legends and are thus frequently depicted in Totem Poles. The color green is usually produced by mixing blue and yellow, but can also be derived from simple acid action on copper. The extracts from grass likewise produce green dye.

Purple coming from huckleberries is commonly used by Indians to symbolize reverent nature. It may also represent mountains in the distance.

Native Indian art has provided an effective way of enriching and passing their culture. Today, many Native American Indian artists continue the traditional art, blending ancient art with mainstream art. Colors are effectively used to convey the artist’s ideas.

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