In observance of Native American Heritage Month, we at Etkie would like to say “thank you!” to all of our Indigenous friends and family for the immense contributions they have given not only the jewelry world, but all facets of American life, from farming to the creation of our Constitution. Did you know that the Founding Fathers were inspired by the Iroquois Confederacy’s form of democracy? Well now you do!
Here in New Mexico the Indigenous population makes up 10.6% with 22 distinct American Indian tribes calling this beautiful state home. Jewelry is a large part of Native culture, and we are blessed to be immersed daily in the inspiring designs of both traditional and contemporary Native jewelers, artists and artisans.
For myself and the other women in my family, jewelry is a way of showing the world who we are as Diné people. To adorn ourselves in our Navajo jewelry when we leave our homes is how we present ourselves to the world as children of Changing Woman, our primary deity. The diamond pattern in our beadwork connects us to and reminds us of Dinétah, our homeland between the four sacred mountains.
Similarly, the cross motif in our beading and other artwork is to honor our deity Spider Woman, from whom we learned to weave and find our way in this world. The zigzag design represents the lightening bolts from which the Holy People descended into the world. Finally, we honor all of the colors, each of which represent something. My favorite story about color comes from the Navajo poet Luci Tapahonso that tells when Salt Woman came to bless the baby White Shell Girl, who would grow to become Changing Woman, she carried with her effervescent light and rainbows danced from the salt crystals of her dress.
In my family, like so many others, jewelry is passed from grandmother to granddaughter, from mother to daughter, from sister to sister, from aunty to niece, from cousin to cousin. Jewelry is how we share our stories as women with one another. At Etkie, we hope to be a part of a woman’s legacy through each handmade bracelet we lovingly send into the world.
Experience the legacy of jewelry with our Heritage Collection HERE.