THE FAMILY JEWELS

The Vintage Version

A Nice Piece of Jewelry Takes A Load Off My Mind…

My mom never wore diamonds. She didn’t subscribe to the code that they were a “girl’s best friend”, nor did she demand that my dad sell his soul or mortgage the house to put one on her finger. Not that she was practical. My mom is anything but practical–you can take the girl outta the Ozarks, but you can’t take the Okie outta the girl. Geraldine just didn’t give a fuck, really! Diamonds were meaningless to this cowgirl.

Instead, her jewelry box runneth over with turquoise and silver. She is a grade-A sucker for American Indian jewelry because pieces are hand-crafted from a spiritual and cultural perspective. The people who create them weave a story through their fine craftsmanship. Her trips to New Mexico and Arizona (through purchases) help propagate a culture in danger of disappearing and generate income for those who rely on their art to survive. In Alaska alone, the Inuit culture is disappearing at such a high rate, it’s alarming. The Native American youth have become so integrated in the “American” way of life (think cell phones and social media), they don’t make time for their craft anymore.

A new era of Native American elders around the country are spearheading an effort to get their youth re-introduced and interested in their native culture and teach them what they learned from their own elders. It’s an effort that’s thriving in areas such as Northern Alaska and Yosemite National Park. When you purchase (new or vintage) a piece of native jewelry or textile, you are helping to preserve the cultural heritage of a race that is slowly becoming history. It’s paramount that we keep this history alive.

So, I have very fond memories of my mom blinged out in squash blossoms and zuni bracelets. The more turquoise and coral, the more connected to the earth and it’s native people she became. My sister and I used to play in her jewelry box, so it’s no wonder we were bestowed with the same love and appreciation for this fine art and the people who created them.

“Cherish youth, but trust old age.” Pueblo Proverb

 

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