Native Americans centered their lives around animals and nature. The bear has been depicted in ancient drawings and Native American bear claw jewelry indicates that the bear was an important part of daily life in our early American history.
The bear served as a symbol for strength, endurance, and love. It helped explain the change in seasons and was fodder for Native American folklore. The mother bear was protective of its cubs just as the Native American mother was protective of her children.
Native American Bear Claw Jewelry History
The Native American tribes believed that the “Great Spirit” could take the shape of the bear. When the bear was killed, it was believed that its blood would seep into the earth and help change the seasons, moving the landscape of green summer into fall’s deep reds and oranges. In the spring, the bear would emerge whole and alive once again and begin the life cycle anew.
Native American tribes hunted bear for food, clothing and kept the claws to be used in Native American bear claw jewelry.
- Native American bear claw jewelry was to be worn with respect to the great beast which had sacrificed its life to adorn that mighty hunter who had taken its life.
- Worn as a symbol of power.
- Protect against enemies.
- Protect from illness.
Some tribes would produce Native American bear claw jewelry using the actual claws taken directly off of the bear after a kill. Bear claw pieces consisted of bear claws strung onto simple braids or intricate silver chains. Silver casings and gemstones such as turquoise were used in Native American bear claw pieces, adding to the intricate design of the jewelry. This jewelry could be simple or this Native American bear claw jewelry could also be ornamental.
Some Native American bear claw jewelry was made by sculpting the image of the bear claw into silver or other precious metals. Native American bear claw jewelry is still being produced on many reservations today. The ornamentation of Native American bear claw jewelry can still be found, either in the simple format or the more intrinsic display. Bear claw jewelry is a tribute to this all and powerful beast and provides lasting strength and protection for the wearer.