Native American Life

Native American life is known for its customs, clothing and spirituality. While Native American life was different in each tribe, there were certain things they all had in common. For instance, they were known to forge their own weapons. The most common weapons they made and used were the club, spear and bow and arrows. The quality, design and materials that were used on these weapons varied throughout the tribes.

Native American life revolved around spirituality. Today, Native Americans are the only group that has a federal law that allows them to practice their religion. For instance, individuals that are on the federally recognized tribe list and who are also on the Native American ancestry rolls are allowed to obtain eagle feathers. The Eagle Feather Law states they are allowed to obtain the feathers for spiritual and/or religious purposes.  However, the law stipulates that Native Americans are not allowed to give eagle feathers to someone who is not a Native American. 

Native American life was filled with music. Traditional Indian music included the drums and rattles. Flutes, other whistles and percussion instruments were sometimes used in certain Native American tribes. The most public displace of Indian music which can be found today is at pow-wows. Here people can enjoy listening to drum groups play solely or in unison with Native American singers and dancers. Popular pow-wow songs include songs of honor, sneak up songs, grass dances, welcome songs, war songs and more. There are some intertribal songs and traditional songs that are exclusive within the nations. There are some modern performers who have Native American ancestors and they include Tori Amos, Wayne Newton, Rita Coolidge, John Trudell and R. Carlos Nakai.

Native American life is marked by its art and craftsmanship. Their unique art work was part of everyday life. You can see it in their pottery, wooden carvings, clothing, weaving, jewelry and pictorials. Not only were the Native Americans experts at using wood and clay, but they also used animal skins, feathers, bones and other natural materials in their everyday life.

Many people love learning about Native American life. Some are even choosing to collect Native American arts and crafts. It should be noted that if you are looking to purchase any kind of Indian arts and crafts that it should be labeled authentic American Indian. The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 states that it is illegal for anyone to sell merchandise and label it authentic American Indian work unless it is actually made by someone who is a certified Indian artisan or a tribe member. Since this act was passed it has dramatically cut down on fake arts and crafts being sold as authentic Native American work. Not only does the Act protect the individuals who are purchasing this handiwork, but it also protects the Indian nations from being misrepresented.

Joseph Paige 2006

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