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Navajo Jewelry

The Navajo Nation, also known as the Diné Nation, is the largest Native American tribe in the Southwest and is the creator of Navajo jewelry. They began as a semi-nomadic group of hunters and gatherers who traded with Pueblo tribes and Spanish explorers.

Various adornments, such as jewelry or beads, are a vital part of the cultural heritage of the Navajo people. Elaborate ornamentation is considered to be a sign of wealth for their culture: the bigger and more elaborate a piece of jewelry was, the more respect the wearer commanded.

Sterling silver, large stones, and organic shapes are all common among Navajo jewelry designs. Navajo jewelry focuses on the innate beauty of Southwest rocks and minerals. Typically, the stones are either rough, polished, or carved into geometric shapes. 

Navajo Bolo Tie With Feather Overlay And Sun Carving

Navajo Jewelry Designs

The two most common designs in Navajo jewelry are the single stone and multi-stone pieces. Whether it be earrings, rings, bracelets, or necklaces- you are bound to see these designs used in Native American jewelry

The main difference between the two designs is that the single-stone jewelry style utilizes one stone as the centerpiece. While the multi-stone design has more than one stone that is put together to create a unique style such as a row, cluster, or inlay. 

Navajo jewelry designed in a row style has a pattern that uses more than one stone. This design is created by placing the stones in a straight line, the most common is horizontally, but you may see vertical or diagonal row designs as well.  

The cluster design spaces the stones close together rather than in a line; this is what separates the two. Native American artists freely place similarly sized and shaped stones in a linear or non-linear fashion to form eye-catching pieces. In unique arrangements, these stones don’t necessarily match one another exactly.

There are two different types of cluster designs, the second being the arranged cluster. The arranged cluster is the classical or traditional cluster design and has been used for many generations by the Navajo. Random cluster designs are when the grouping of stones is placed in a seemingly random fashion. Random clusters highlight stones that would arguably lose some of their brilliance if shaped down into a stone that would likely be found in an arranged cluster.  

Lastly, the inlay jewelry style gives designers complete freedom to create designs of their choice. This lapidary style incorporates flattened stones that are measured, cut, shaped, and carefully laid in place to create a design. Channel inlay is exactly like the inlay designs described above, made of flattened stones that are measured, cut, shaped, and carefully laid in place to create a design. Yet, channel inlay has its unique rendition of the art and is a significantly more rare and traditional style.

Navajo Necklaces

Vintage Navajo Turquoise Squash Blossom NecklaceThere are many different styles of Navajo Necklaces to choose from, such as a wide selection of colored stones, strands, necklaces, chokers, but the most famous style of Navajo necklaces is the Squash Blossom. The Squash Blossom necklace is usually crafted with Sterling Silver beads interspersed with Squash Blossoms. The necklace ends with a pendant that looks like an upside horseshoe, called a “Naja.”

Squash Blossom is originally an image that was found in ancient caves and rock drawings that existed before the Europeans came to the New World. The Squash Blossom Necklace is a unique Navajo design dating back to the 1870s after the Navajo people made contact with the Spanish. We have a large selection of authentic Navajo necklaces in many styles for Women and Men. These include inlay with coral, turquoise, opal, different styles of hammered and etched sterling silver, and naturally shaped stones. When you shop with us you are helping these artists continue their work and pass on the skill to future generations. 

 Navajo Bracelets

The beginning of silver Navajo jewelry making was in 1865 when they learned the trade from the Spaniards. The Navajo began making turquoise bracelets around the late 1890s after the first turquoise stone had been set in silver. Navajo Turquoise Bracelets have become highly valued by Jewelry collectors worldwide. Since the introduction of the internet, the demand for Navajo Turquoise Bracelets has escalated dramatically. Dragonfly Native American Jewelry has a wide selection of high-quality Turquoise Jewelry and Navajo Bracelets!

Ira Custer Horse & Hooves Bracelet

We sell an assortment of Men's and Women's Navajo Bracelets handcrafted by Authentic Navajo artists. The southwest has a variety of turquoise mines available to be made into beautiful turquoise stones in sterling silver settings. From the palest, cleanest Sky Blue stones to vibrant green stones, there is a color of turquoise that will be perfectly matched to every Navajo Turquoise Bracelet and cuff in our handmade jewelry.

The fascination with Turquoise has steadily increased down through the centuries, and it has been prized for thousands of years throughout many countries of the world. We at Dragonfly Native American Jewelry choose quality, and often hard-to-get stones for our pieces. Take your time and enjoy shopping at our online store, and you will see why we are the online leader in Navajo jewelry!

Navajo Turquoise Jewelry

The Navajo traded with other Native people for turquoise beads and shells. It was a natural fit to put it in the silver jewelry made by the Navajo Silversmiths.

Navajo turquoise jewelry quickly became popular with the Navajo people, and once the Indian Traders took their Navajo Jewelry to the markets, the demand by the Californians grew quickly as well. Tourists coming to see the Grand Canyon as well as travelers on the railroad loved Indian turquoise jewelry, and many took the Jewelry home with them as souvenirs.

California began being a big market for Navajo turquoise jewelry and continues to be today. Navajo sterling silver and turquoise jewelry began to be worn in movies as the movie stars from Hollywood had also fallen in love with the Navajo jewelry. Indian turquoise jewelry of all types, including Zuni and Hopi as well as Navajo, is admired worldwide today, and it has become a major part of the Native and American heritage. Designer Ralph Lauren has featured Navajo jewelry in nearly all of his clothing collections for decades.

Navajo Woman Pedant/Pin

History Behind Navajo Jewelry

The first of this jewelry was made by a Blacksmith known as Atsidi Sani around 1865. He admired the silver adornments worn by the Spaniards and their horses when they came to the area. Atsidi Sani convinced the Spaniards to teach him how to work with silver and began making Silver concho's, adornments, and the first Navajo jewelry. Atsidi Sani found an immediate market for his jewelry to his own Navajo people, who appreciated these pieces. Atsidi taught his brother how to be a Silversmith, and they both taught many others as there was an immediate demand for Navajo Jewelry by the Navajos as well as many others.

Shortly after the turn of the 20th-century, tourism began in the Southwest mainly due to the Railroad. Some of the most popular items that tourists would buy of Navajo Jewelry were Navajo rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. By the 1920s, Navajo Jewelry began being sold at popular stores and places, such as the Indian Trading Posts, at the Grand Canyon.

The Navajo jewelry business boomed and became a major industry throughout the Southwest. Today, Navajo Jewelry is still in vogue and in high demand as well. People all around the world come to the Southwest to buy sterling silver and turquoise jewelry and appreciate the jewelry. Navajo jewelry has an important role in the history of the American Western Frontier and is very much a part of the American Heritage.

Navajo Symbol Meanings in Jewelry

Bear Paw EarringsNative American jewelry is very popular among both American Indians and non-natives alike. Navajo jewelry typically features silver, and often with turquoise, shell, coral, or other kinds of stone, these pieces of jewelry are not only fashionable but also very meaningful. Traditional designs reflect the important symbols, motifs, and beliefs of the tribe by which they are crafted.

For many of the Navajo people, the jewelry's meaning can be spiritual, cultural, monetary, or aesthetic, or a combination of these beliefs. It traditionally represented its wearer’s status. Designs have a special meaning too.

Some common Native American symbols used in jewelry and their meanings include:

  • Arrow: bow and arrow; protection and defense. A broken arrow represents peace between tribes.
  • Bear: a sacred sign of courage and physical power
  • Buffalo: humility and the sustaining of life
  • Butterfly: transformation, peace, a messenger from the Spirit world
  • Cactus: endurance and protection
  • Circle: air, water, fire, earth; alternatively seasonal changes, death and rebirth, and mankind’s first four tribes
  • Coyote: ancestors, craftiness, intelligence
  • Crow: intelligence, fearlessness, creation
  • Dragonfly: resurrection, encouragement
  • Eagle: conquest, power, victory
  • Falcon: decisiveness, knowledge, vision
  • Feathers: trust, wisdom, strength, honor, freedom
  • Fire: renewal, cleansing, purification
  • Fox: cunning, responsiveness, cleverness
  • Horse: freedom, nobility, strength
  • Moon: protection, harvest, serenity
  • Rain: fertility, renewal, change
  • Raven: healing, medicine, self-transformation. Messages from the Spirit world.
  • Snake: healing, rebirth, good luck
  • Thunderbird: the iconic symbol representing power and warning
  • Turtle: Earth, health, longevity
  • Wolf: communication, loyalty, fierceness, compassion

Jewelry is meant to be worn and loved. Some believe that turquoise holds the life force of its previous wearer. This powerful stone is renowned in Navajo Jewelry, and if you are acquiring a piece that has been pre-loved, which is very meaningful, you may wish to “cleanse” your stone with white sage smudging.

Owning and wearing authentic Native American necklaces and other traditional jewelry pieces gives the wearer access to unique cultural and spiritual designs. Native artisans work hard to create authentic pieces that reflect the beliefs and cultures of their people, and estate jewelry is that little bit even more special, having a one-of-a-kind history attached to each piece.

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Indian Arts & Crafts Association (IACA)

Indian Arts & Crafts Association (IACA)

The By-Laws of the Indian Arts & Crafts Association (IACA)  state its purpose as:

To honestly represent American Indian arts and crafts as to nature and origin within the realm of my control and to offer return privileges for articles found by the Indian Arts and Crafts Association to have been misrepresented by me; To abide by all federal, state, local and tribal laws pertaining to Indian Arts and Crafts, artifacts and natural resources; To abide by ethical business conduct regarding advertising, appraising, pricing and guarantees offered by me; To respect and support ethical business activities of all Indian Arts and Crafts Association members; To encourage consumer confidence in the authenticity of all articles identified with the IACA seal; and, To cooperate with the law enforcement agencies and the IACA in the investigation of crimes involving Indian arts and crafts and to promote proper identification of Indian arts and crafts.

In 2018, after 44 years, the Indian Arts and Crafts Association, an organization devoted to the preservation, promotion, and protection of American Indian Art, has come to an end.

In the 1970’s the business of American Indian art, especially American Indian jewelry, was booming. There was a phenomenal demand for authentic American Indian art and crafts at this time. Sadly, along with this popularity, came the exploitation of American Indian Art through false advertising, fakes, imitations and out and out fraud.

It was at this time that third generation Indian trader, John D. Kennedy, became concerned about the threat to the industry and started to develop a trade organization to protect and enhance the market for authentic American Indian art and crafts. Starting out as a small fledgling organization without even a name, by 1974 the Indian Arts and Crafts Association (IACA) was formed, a board was elected, and a logo developed. The IACA developed guidelines for the ethical marketing of Native American Art. In 1974 the National Park Service adopted those guidelines for its concessionaires. 

Since its founding the IACA had become the world's leading American Indian Arts Alliance. The only association of its kind, the IACA served many constituents including artists, American Indian art wholesalers and retailers, and American Indian art collectors.

Over the years, the IACA became a powerful voice in terms of protecting and preserving authentic American Indian Art including testifying before the U.S. Congress on matters of expanding the powers of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board to enforce and prosecute the laws protecting American Indian art.

The association provided large wholesale markets for its artist, wholesale and retail members. It provided seminars and educational materials for its members and created new markets for hundreds of American Indian artists. For 35 years, the IACA recognized a single artist as the IACA Artist of the Year, one of the most admired and respected honors an American Indian artist could receive. The IACA seal became the hallmark of integrity for all that were fortunate enough to earn the famed seal. Membership was loyal throughout the years, with the average having been an association member for over 23 years. As long time member and award-winning potter/sculptor Pahponee (Kickapoo-Potawatomi), put it:                   

“IACA, what an amazing organization! Many artists and many businesses benefitted by their efforts to assist and enhance. As an artist, I learned much. We all learned. Thank you IACA!!”

The Indian Arts and Crafts Association provided a place for all members to gather, make friendships and conduct the wonderful business of American Indian Art. Although there were always differing ideas about exactly what standards IACA should stand for, how it should go about enforcing those standards and what sorts of opportunities and markets IACA should provide, there was always a consistent deep commitment to ensuring that the IACA would stand by its mission statement; to promote, protect and preserve American Indian Arts and Crafts.

Over time the market model for the buying and selling of American Indian art changed dramatically, most notably with the advent of Internet sales, allowing more direct contact between artists and buyers. The need for and interest in wholesale markets declined and finally was determined to no longer be a viable avenue for the IACA to continue. As renowned Cherokee sculptor and long-time exhibitor Eddie Morrison put it:              

 “IACA was really good in its early years especially in Denver, lots of galleries and collectors. I think with the advent of the Internet people could order what they wanted online. Business went down at IACA then.”

During its almost half-century of existence, the Indian Arts and Crafts Association was guided by, and carefully tended, by volunteers with a deep passion for the association and the principles for which it stood. From the very beginning, however, there was more interest and support for the organization than there were people who were willing to work at it. Sadly, in the end, the IACA was unable to continue without such committed volunteers.

The need for education remains and the mission at the heart of the IACA continues. Cultural appropriation as well as fraud and fakery are as much of a problem as ever.

The void that will be left with the close of the Association will be difficult to fill.

As Cliff Fragua, Jemez Pueblo sculptor, stone carver, and past president of the IACA stated:

With the closure of IACA, Native artists must now take the lead in confronting fraud, appropriation, and misrepresentation of Native arts. Indigenous art communities must take control of the marketing of Native arts and crafts and implement programs to protect and repatriate the cultural and economic values of Native made products.”

As the Association comes to an end, it is working with the Heard Museum, the Heard Museum Guild, and the Heard Museum Library and Archives, toward an agreement with this prestigious institution which will honor the work that IACA has accomplished over the last 44 years, and promote, preserve and protect authentic American Indian art through awards given at The Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market. In addition, all historic records will go to the Heard Museum Library and Archives for their permanent archives.

The mission and ethical beliefs of the IACA remain an important guideline for the world of American Indian Art, Indian artists, craftspeople, traders, dealers, collectors, museums and others concerned with the image and marketing of American Indian arts and crafts. These include: abiding by all federal, state, local and tribal laws pertaining to Indian Arts and Crafts, artifacts and natural resources; abiding by ethical business practices; cooperating with law enforcement agencies in the investigation of crimes involving Indian arts and crafts; promoting proper identification of Indian arts and crafts, and honestly representing American Indian arts and crafts as to their nature and origin.

The Board of Directors of the IACA wish to thank all those who kindly volunteered to serve IACA and to acknowledge our members and wish them the best for success in the years to come.

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Ask Zunis about "Dragonfly" and they will tell you that Dragonfly is the messenger who carries prayers to the Spirit World.  The double-winged form of Dragonfly is sometimes referred to as the "Pueblo Cross."

Dragonfly is recognized as a sign of water, which is where this remarkable creature lays its eggs.  Where there is Dragonfly, there is water; where there is water, there is life.

Dragonfly is a skilled aerial acrobat and, like the mind, can move quickly in any given direction to accomplish its goal.  Being mindful of Dragonfly can help guide us to our own positive and transcendent goals.  The lovely, often iridescent colors of the wings remind us that the mundane existence that we commonly accept as the only reality may be an illusion.

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Harvey House Style Jewelry

Harvey House Style Jewelry

There is a great story behind the Harvey House Style Jewelry.

As the railroads pushed west in the late 1800’s, there was a demand for more services for the comfort of passengers. Enter entrepreneur Fred Harvey. The Fred Harvey Company established a business relationship with the Santa Fe Railway as it built tracks from Kansas City to Dodge City to Santa Fe to Albuquerque and eventually The Grand Canyon and all the way to Los Angeles. Harvey opened his first depot restaurant in Topeka, Kansas in 1876. By the 1880’s he had contracts that enabled him to set up a series of restaurants known as Harvey Houses every 100 miles along the Santa Fe Railway’s transcontinental route. Some evolved into Hotels. These establishments enabled passengers to get off the train and eat quality food served with the high standards Fred Harvey required. Harvey Houses were a far cry from the stark and exhausting train ride endured by travelers in the beginning days of train travel west.

Fred Harvey and the Santa Fe Railway engaged in a master marketing campaign targeting the natural landscapes and cultural experiences that awaited visitors to the Southwest. The Grand Canyon was the crown jewel of these trips. The railroad built a spur from Williams, Arizona (on the main line of the Santa Fe Railway) to the canyon’s south rim in 1901. The Harvey House grand El Tovar Hotel, which sits right on the rim, opened in 1905. Other tourist related facilities opened soon after.

The Santa Fe Railway also partnered with Fred Harvey to expand its passenger adventures deeper into Pueblo Indian Country with a railroad spur to Santa Fe (North America’s first capital city). The La Fonda Hotel was built by Harvey at the end of the Santa Fe Trail just off the Plaza. Tourists visited the culturally rich area in “Harveycars” on what were called “Indian-Detour Trips”. Pueblos, old Spanish settlements and the rich history of the city of Santa Fe were explored.

Harvey employed and showcased many Indians and their artwork at his hotels. Two of the most famous locations were the Fred Harvey Indian Building adjoining The Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque and Hopi House at the Grand Canyon next to El Tovar. Only Hopi House still stands. Harvey had Native demonstrations of weaving, pottery making and other art forms not only to educate tourists by also to entice them to buy curios made by Indians.

Harvey House Style Jewelry, made by Indians, featured thunderbirds, arrows, Turquoise stones and other designs that were encouraged by Fred Harvey as being “what the tourists wanted”. A whole industry grew up around the Harvey House experience of travelers to the Southwest. Today, Harvey House Style Jewelry of the early to mid-1900’s has become very collectible.

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History of Turquoise

History of Turquoise

Among the Native Americans of the Southwest, Turquoise has historically been used for religious and ornamental purposes. For the Navajos it once passed as currency. Apaches liked to attach a small piece to the bow so that their arrows would fly true. The Zunis of western New Mexico incorporated Turquoise into nearly all aspects of life, from the sacred to the economic. Turquoise has been a part of Zuni religious practice for hundreds of years. Ground Turquoise is often set out as a part of an offering and the stone also adorns ceremonial objects. In Zuni tradition, the rich blue color of the stone symbolizes “the supreme life-giving power,” and fragments of turquoise are used for the eyes of fetishes and co-mingled with sacred corn meal and presented as an offering to masked deities. Most tribes believe that Turquoise brings good fortune and ensures a long and healthful life, hence its age old popularity as a personal ornament.  

In New Mexico, Native Americans for centuries extracted Turquoise from the Cerrillos hills a few miles south of Santa Fe. This was the site of the most extensive prehistoric mining operation in America. As an article of trade, Cerrillos Turquoise found its way into the southeastern United States, northward into Canada and as far south as Mexico and the Mayan homeland. At prehistoric Pueblo Bonito in New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon, archaeologists have recovered some 50,000 pieces of Turquoise, more than half of it in the form of beads.

Turquoise occurs almost exclusively in arid lands. In North America it is most abundant in dry, copper-rich regions of the Southwestern United States (Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico) where it has been mined aggressively since prehistoric times. Turquoise is found at high elevations and is almost never deeper than 100 feet below the surface of the earth.   In the Southwest, the darker shades of blue and green Turquoise are considered the highest grades. Generally, the deeper and richer the color, the harder the nugget and the more easily it will polish to a high luster, an important determinant of gem quality. In other cultures where Turquoise is mined (such as the Middle East) pale shades of Turquoise command top price.  

“Matrix” is highly prized in Southwestern Turquoise. It might be red, white, black, brown, golden or even lavender and is part of the mother rock that surrounds the Turquoise mineral deposit. There are three basic types of matrix.   The Spiderweb matrix is most prized and resembles highly detailed netting that envelopes the mineral, inside and out. Nevada’s Number 8 Mine, a one-time gold and copper mining operation, has produced one of the most prized spiderweb Turquoise deposits in the world.   Web matrix has a net-like pattern that is less precisely defined than spiderweb, yet its strands are still generally connected.   Matrix Turquoise is the least valuable and most prevalent of the three with random and only occasionally connected veins of minerals running through it.  

(From “The Allure of Turquoise”, New Mexico Magazine)

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Pueblo Tribes

Pueblo Tribes

The spiritual roots that sustain the 19 distinct pueblos of New Mexico (including Kewa “Santo Domingo”, Zuni, Acoma, Sandia, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Taos and Isleta among others in Dragonfly’s collection) connect them to the earth and sky, to the wind and water, to the sun and moon and to their ancestors.

The 19 Pueblos of New Mexico are the oldest tribal communities in the U. S. Located primarily in central and northern New Mexico, most Pueblos are within one hour of Albuquerque or Santa Fe. Modern day Pueblo culture evolved largely along the fertile Rio Grande Valley where Pueblo people developed advanced agriculture and animal husbandry. Zuni Pueblo is in western New Mexico close to the Arizona border.

Archeologists theorize that the Pueblo Indian groups began evolving from 12,000 to 30,000 years ago. During this span of time groups of prehistoric Indians wandered throughout what is now New Mexico and the Southwest, some possibly arriving from across the Bering Strait.

Generally, anthropologists believe the Hopi (in Arizona) and Rio Grande Pueblo peoples descend from the ancestral Pueblo culture which built the giant stone structures aligned the the heavens at Chaco Canyon and carved the cliffside caves at Bandelier as well as Mesa Verde and other locations in New Mexico, southern Colorado and eastern Arizona.

Native American spiritual leaders dispute the generalized archaeological theories of their evolution. Elders choose to teach young tribal members that their people evolved from the earth itself and that the people are as specific to their homeland region as the trees and the terrain which also sprouted from the earth.

Despite the loss of land to colonization by the Spanish, Mexican and American governments, the Pueblo Indians remain on their original homelands to this day. They take great care to preserve ancient traditions and languages. Pueblo Indians are well-known for their fine arts and crafts including hand coiled pottery, jewelry, weaving and drums. Annual Pueblo feast days celebrate the Pueblos’ traditional religious calendar and consist of religious dances that personify animals, nature and agricultural cycles to ensure the continuation of Life. Due to centuries of European contact, many Pueblo feast days coincide with days honoring the patron saints of Pueblo Catholic Missions.

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Jewelry Materials

Jewelry Materials

Although Turquoise is the predominant stone associated with Southwestern Native American Jewelry, there are a variety of other stones and shells that are incorporated into designs. Historically, the Ancestral Puebloans of Chaco Canyon traded with tribes from Mexico and even Central America. Shells and parrot feathers have been found in archeological sites across the Southwest. When the reservation system was put into place, Indian Traders began providing artists with materials they thought would enhance the jewelry being made. Today, Native American jewelers have access to an unlimited variety of materials from their local Trader, jewelry supply store and the internet.

Below is a list of the more commonly used stones (other than Turquoise) and shells and their sources:

Abalone — USA
Alabaster — Utah
Amber — Dominican Republic/Burma
Apple Coral — South China Sea
Black Onyx — China
Black Pen Shell — Philippines
Calsilica (Rainbow) — Mexico
Carnelian — China
Coral — Italy/Japan
Dolomite — Utah
Fancy Jasper — Brazil/India
Fossilized Walrus Ivory — Alaska/Siberia
Gaspeite — Australia
Serpentine — USA
Jet — Pennsylvania
Lapis — Afghanistan
Malachite — Australia/South Africa/USA
Melon Shell — Philippines
Ocean Jasper — Australia
Onyx — Mexico
Opal — Australia/Czech/Mexico/USA
Opal (Simulated/Imitation) — Man made Japan
Paua Shell — Philippines
Pearls — Philippines/China/Japan
Picasso Marble — Utah
Pink Agate — China
Pink Coral — Pacific Ocean
Pink Lipped Mussel Shell — USA
Pipestone — Arizona/Minnesota
Red Jasper — Africa
Rhodocrosite — Argentina/Russia/USA
Spiney Oyster Shell — Baja/Pacific Ocean
Sugilite — Africa
Tagua Nut — Central/South American
Tiger’s Eye — Australia/Africa

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Navajo Nation, Urban Outfitters Dispute

Navajo Nation, Urban Outfitters Dispute

Very interesting article about tribal names and cultural themes being used without permission by corporations for merchandising.


Things To Know About Navajo Nation, Urban Outfitters Dispute
By Alicia Fonseca, February 3, 2016
AP Mobile

AP FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2015, file photo, purchased items from Urban Outfitters' Navajo line are shown in Tempe, Ariz. The Navajo Nation is suing Urban Outfitters months after the tribe sent a cease and desist letter to the clothing retailer demanding it pull the "Navajo" name from its products. The lawsuit filed late Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, in U.S. Federal Court in New Mexico alleges trademark infringements and violations of the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP), — The Navajo Nation is seeking potentially millions of dollars from Urban Outfitters Inc. over clothing, jewelry and other merchandise bearing the tribe's name that the popular retailer has sold. The clothing chain will ask a federal judge in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Wednesday to limit how far back in time the tribe can go to seek money over the company's products, which included everything from necklaces, jackets and pants to a flask and underwear with the "Navajo" name. The tribe's lawsuit alleging trademark violations has been working its way through the courts for more than three years. Efforts to settle the case featuring two unlikely foes have failed as the tribe seeks vast sums of money from the company that also owns the Anthropologie and Free People brands.

Here are things to know about the case:

The Navajo Nation wants revenue from products sold by Urban Outfitters and its subsidiaries under the "Navajo" name dating back to 2008. The actual amount isn't quantified in court documents, but it could amount to millions of dollars. On some claims, the tribe wants all the profits generated from the Navajo-themed sales. On others, it wants $1,000 per day per item, or three times the profit generated by marketing and retail of products using the name. Urban Outfitters says the tribe deserves nothing from 2008 to when the lawsuit was filed, saying the statute of limitations expired and tribal officials "slept on their alleged rights."

The tribe's 2012 lawsuit alleges violations of federal and state trademark laws, including the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which makes it illegal to sell arts or crafts in a way to falsely suggest they're made by American Indians. Urban Outfitters says "Navajo" is a generic term for a style or design. The company wants a judge to determine it hasn't infringed upon the tribe's rights and to cancel the tribe's federal trademark registrations.

The geometric prints popular in clothing often are inspired by Native American designs. Urban Outfitters said it started using the "Navajo" or "Navaho" name on its products and in marketing as early as July 2001, when the fashion trend was in full swing. Its subsidiaries followed suit, with the companies selling cuffs, necklaces, jackets, pants, a flask and panties, among other merchandise. The companies said they quit selling the products after hearing of the tribe's lawsuit. The Navajo Nation holds trademarks on the "Navajo" name for things like clothing, footwear and online retail sales.

The lawsuit against Urban Outfitters is the first such action taken by the tribe in federal court to assert its trademarks. Former Navajo Nation Attorney General Harrison Tsosie has said the tribe twice protested the unauthorized use of "Navajo" before it sued and sent at least four dozen protest letters afterward. The tribe relies on its members and an agreement with a Texas-based company that licenses the "Navajo" name to monitor use of the term and alert the tribal government to possible trademark infringement.

The Navajo Nation refers both to the tribal government and to the 27,000 square miles that make up the tribe's reservation in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico — the country's largest. About 180,000 of the 300,000 Navajo tribal members live on the reservation. The tribe's population is second only to the Cherokee Nation.

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Leap Of Faith

Leap Of Faith

One of the best things I have ever done is to start this business.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work!  I am a one woman band.  I visit the Rio Grande Pueblos, Zuni Pueblo, Gallup, and the Navajo Reservation.  I meet with Native jewelers, artists and traders. When I get home I catalogue and label it.  Then I figure out how to display it on the website.  I do all the photography for the website.  I manage the products, information and blog for the website.  I am the bookkeeper and bill payer.  I am the sales person for my customers.  I take care of all the web orders (packaging and shipping).  I answer the phone.  Phew!!!

If it sounds like a lot, it is!  BUT, I am surrounded by the beauty of New Mexico and its cultures all day every day.  I meet the most interesting, talented artists and customers.  I use all of the skills I have learned from my  education, employment, non-profit board involvement, travel and personal life journey.  Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me and shared their knowledge so generously.  I encourage everyone to follow their passion in whatever way you can.  It might not make you rich in money but it will enrich your life in ways you never expected.  Go ahead and take that leap of faith…….

Especially my husband Jud who has always been supportive of my dreams. I encourage everyone to follow their passion in whatever way you can. It might not make you rich in money but it will enrich your life in ways you never expected. Go ahead and take that leap of faith…….

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