The value of Indian/Native American artifacts goes beyond money; these items provide a link, as well as insight into the lives of the native tribes and indigenous people across the Americas. Native Americans have lived completely in tune with nature and their surroundings, which is clearly visible in their art. As such, this art should be appreciated and not just considered ‘a thing to have’. So, if you’re genuinely interested in learning about rare Native American artifacts, this is the place to start. But, we won’t be guiding you through the marketplaces and auctions where you can purchase these items.

Rare Indian Artifacts – Everything You Need To Know

Before we get into the topic, we would like to clear some things up; as you can see, the title of the article mentions ‘Indian artifacts’, but we’re going to talk about Native American artifacts. So, why did we use one, and not the other term? Well, Europeans used to refer to Native Americans as Indians (as they thought they discovered/colonized India, not North America), and that name stayed around for a long time. Nevertheless, we don’t want our readers to get confused, or confuse different cultures and people.

Now, if you’re interested in these rare Native American artifacts, you probably know this already. Regardless, by talking about these artifacts, we’re actually referring to things Native Americans made and used prior to European colonization. So, if you’ve ever wondered what these artifacts are and what they look like, or you’d like to expand your knowledge about this topic, you’re in the right place. Therefore, without further ado, let’s get started!

Native American Artifacts – Brief Overview

Native American Artifacts - Brief Overview

Native American artifacts are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the indigenous people of North America. These artifacts, ranging from tools and weapons to jewelry and pottery, provide a window into the daily lives and traditions of Native American tribes, prior to the European colonization and the atrocities that followed their arrival.

While many Native American artifacts are relatively common, there are some that are incredibly rare and valuable due to their historical significance, craftsmanship, and rarity. In the following paragraphs, we’ll go over these artifacts and relics, and focus mainly on the rarest example of Native American resilience and resourcefulness as well as culture and tradition.

So, what are the things Native Americans used to make before European influence? According to sources, there are around 30 types of Native American (or American Indian) artifacts/relics. They comprise arrows, pipes, charmstones, dreamcatchers, plates, cloth shirts, pottery of all kinds, totem poles, prayer sticks, and so much more.

Unfortunately, these people live in limited, constricted areas nowadays, known as reservations. Sure, many live outside reservations as well, but considering that they used to live across the country, and are now limited to only a few states is pretty bad and direct proof of what European colonization did to these amazing people.

The Rare Native American Relics

Now, as we mentioned, some of these relics are pretty common and are still being made by the remaining Native Americans in North America. However, for now, we’re specifically interested in the rarest examples of Native American craftsmanship and the use of all these items in the cultural/traditional sense.

Native American Pre-Columbian Artifacts (Statues)

Rare Indian Artifacts - Native American Pre-Columbian Artifacts (Statues)

Pre-Columbian art refers to all visual art done by indigenous people of North, Central, and South America, including the Carribean area from circa 13,000 BC up until the European colonization. Now, the term Pre-Columbian Art is broad and encompasses different cultures and traditions, but we will focus mainly on the Native American pre-Columbian artifacts.

One of the rarest types of Native American artifacts is the pre-Columbian stone sculptures. The sculptures were created by indigenous people in Central and South America before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the late 15th century. Pre-Columbian stone sculptures are known for their intricate details and often depict religious or mythological scenes. They were typically created using a chisel and hammer, and the finished products were polished to create a smooth surface. Pre-Columbian stone sculptures are highly prized by collectors and museums, and some of the most valuable examples can fetch millions of dollars at auction.

Generally, it is super hard to come across these statues, and they’re not that easily sold. After all, they’re thousands of years old and serve as proof of the earliest civilizations. Nevertheless, on Artsy, which is an inline art gallery and marketplace, you can take a look at these highly valuable artworks/statues in case you don’t have access or a chance to visit exhibitions and museums that display these artifacts.

Native American Atlatl or Launching Stick

Rare Indian Artifacts - Native American Atlatl or Launching Stick

Another rare type of Native American artifact is the atlatl, which was a type of spear-thrower, also known as the launching stick, used by indigenous people throughout North and South America. This ancient weapon was a tool that allowed the user to throw a spear with greater speed and accuracy than throwing by hand. Atlatls were typically made from materials such as wood, bone, or antler, and were often decorated with intricate designs and carvings. Due to their rarity and historical significance, atlatls are highly valued by collectors and museums, and almost all of them are owned and displayed by museums.

Native American Textile – Navajo Weaving

Rare Indian Artifacts - Native American Textile – Navajo Weaving

Native American textiles are also a valuable type of artifact, particularly those created by the Navajo people. Navajo textiles are known for their intricate designs and use of natural dyes. This type of textile making is nowadays referred to as Navajo weaving, and it is considered to be utilitarian. The textiles were traditionally created using a vertical loom and were often used as blankets, rugs, or clothing (cloaks, dressed, saddle blankets, et.).

Navajo textiles were highly sought after by traders in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and as a result, many rare examples were sold and dispersed around the world. Today, Navajo textiles are highly valued by collectors and museums, and some rare examples can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars at auctions.

Native American Pottery

Rare Indian Artifacts - Native American Pottery

Native American pottery is another type of artifact that is highly prized by collectors and museums. Pottery was created by indigenous people throughout North and South America and was used for a variety of purposes such as cooking, storage, and ceremonial use. Native American pottery is known for its unique shapes, designs, and use of natural materials. All of the pottery was handmade, around 4,500 years ago.

Some of the rarest examples of Native American pottery are those created by the Mimbres people of New Mexico (these people lived near the Mimbres river in the southwestern region of current New Mexico, hence the name). Mimbres pottery is known for its intricate designs and depictions of animals and humans, as well as beautiful color schemes and line work. Due to their rarity and historical significance, Mimbres pottery pieces can sell for thousands of dollars at auctions but are mostly collected and bought by national museums.

Native American Kachina Dolls

Rare Indian Artifacts - Native American Kachina Dolls

Another rare type of Native American artifact is the Kachina doll, which is a type of ceremonial doll created by the Hopi tribe of Arizona. Kachina dolls are carved out from cottonwood roots and are painted with intricate designs and symbols that represent various Native American spirits or deities. Kachina dolls were traditionally used in Hopi ceremonies to teach children about their religion and culture. Today, Kachina dolls are highly sought after by collectors and museums, and some rare examples can fetch tens of thousands of dollars at auctions.

Kachina itself is a spirit being in the religion of the Pueblo peoples (Native Americans located in the southwest parts of the States). The spirit is actually a personification of different things from the real world or cosmos, including phenomena like wind, storms, insects, corn, etc. Kachinas were believed to have human-like relations, and because of that, they were respected for their understanding and protection of humans. Kachinas were not worshipped like gods, but they were considered to be powerful and good for humans.

Is It Legal To Buy and Own Native American Artifacts?

The reason why we didn’t include any information about places and auctions where you can purchase these incredible, rare artifacts is the followings; there is a veil of controversy when it comes to owning indigenous people’s artifacts. Now, what does this mean?

In the USA, Native American artifacts are protected and often returned to the rightful owners, which is regulated by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Of course, if an artifact was found on private land, then the owner of the land is considered to be the rightful owner of the artifacts. But, even then there is a chance the tribes can claim ownership under the protection of US law.

Many also consider it to be highly controversial for people of European origin in the States to purchase and own Native American artifacts. There is no law regulating such an issue, but nevertheless, it is a controversy and looked down upon by the majority of tribes.

There is also the issue of the illegal purchase and sale of stolen native American artifacts, which is considered fully illegal by the 1990 Indian Arts and Crafts Act as well.

Final Thoughts

Rare, or basically any of the Native American artifacts provide valuable insight into the culture, traditions, and daily lives of indigenous people throughout North and South America. From pre-Columbian stone sculptures to Navajo weaving textiles, these artifacts represent an important part of our shared cultural heritage.

While they may be rare and valuable, it is important to remember that these artifacts are not just items to be bought and sold, but are a tangible link to the past that should be preserved and appreciated for future generations. That is why we didn’t include any links to online marketplaces and auction selling such artifacts, and would suggest our readers refrain from purchasing or bidding on these artifacts as well.

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