5 Ways To Wear Native American Jewelry While Being Aware Of Cultural Appropriation


Cultural appropriation happens when the intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions or artifacts are taken from one culture by another culture without permission. In modern America, it is a major concern among many feminist and minority groups, especially with African American music and dance and Native American fashion and jewelry. However, it is possible to purchase and wear Native American jewelry without participating in cultural appropriation. By following these tips you can wear your favorite Native American pieces while practicing cultural appreciation instead of appropriation. 

Buy Directly from Native American Sellers 

One of the major concerns with cultural appropriation is the idea that people are using cultural symbols from other cultures in order to get rich. You can help prevent this by purchasing your Native American jewelry directly from Native American sellers or from companies who fairly compensate Native American workers. Avoid mass-produced jewelry that is inspired by Native American symbolism and opt for authentic pieces that were made by Native Americans. 

Know Where Your Jewelry Comes From 

The term, "Native American," encompasses a wide range of people with drastically different cultures and beliefs. If you are purchasing Native American jewelry it is a good idea to know what region it comes from and, preferably, which tribe has crafted the jewelry. For example, a Tohono O'odham pendant from southern Arizona will likely have a different look, feel, and meaning than beaded Iroquois necklaces from the Northeast. 

By using jewelry as a way to educate yourself about the different tribes in the United States, you are showing genuine interest in a culture as opposed to simply taking their symbols. 

Understand the History of Your Jewelry 

Most Native American jewelry tends to be highly symbolic. It usually tells a story about a person or event. When you want to purchase a piece of Native American jewelry, you should try to learn the true meaning of the symbols within it. This way you can be sure that you are not wearing anything offensive and you can learn more about the history of the tribe that created your jewelry. Also, learning about the history of your specific piece, including who made it, helps you learn about the struggles that many Native Americans still face in modern America. 

Avoid Spiritually or Culturally Significant Symbols Unless They Apply to You

When discussing cultural appropriation, the idea of restricted symbols often comes up. These are symbols that are restricted within their original culture, meaning that they have to be earned and often include cultural honor. Perhaps the most commonly debated restricted symbol in Native American cultures is the headdress, which is usually only worn by males who have made a great achievement. 

When you purchase Native American jewelry, you should ask about the symbolism within it and make sure that it does not contain restricted symbols unless they apply to you. 

Tell Others About Your Jewelry  

While you are wearing your Native American jewelry, it is likely that someone will comment on its uniqueness or beauty. This provides an excellent opportunity to share what you have learned about the specific culture your jewelry came from. For example, if a person refers to your necklace as an "Indian necklace," you can correct them by letting them know that it was actually made by a specific tribe in a specific area of the United States. You can also share the meaning of the symbolism. Sharing your appreciation of Native American culture helps others understand its beauty and have greater respect for it. 

It is common to be concerned about cultural appropriation when purchasing Native American jewelry. However, it is possible to turn your purchase into a positive experience of cultural appreciation that benefits both you and the Native Americans responsible for your jewelry. Check out a shop like Sunface Traders to browse their selection of Native American jewelry.


13 July 2016

Knowing How To Accessorize With Jewelry

When a friend of mine gave me an impromptu makeover, I realized that I needed to improve the attention that I gave to my appearance. I invested in some new clothes, and then I went shopping for jewelry. However, I didn't know how to choose or match pieces, so my first few outfits were a little confusing. Fortunately, my friend came to my aid and walked me through how to wear jewelry the right way. I was really impressed with her help. This blog is all about me helping you to accessorize with jewelry. Read here to find out how to look better than ever.