Native American Pueblo Pottery - C & D Gifts Native American Art, LLC What Native American Tribes Made Pottery? – C & D Gifts Native American Art

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What Native American Tribes Made Pottery?

Prior to European settlers coming to Central America, the land was populated by indigenous native tribes that lived there for centuries. These tribes developed technologies and practices that live on today in the form of Native American pottery and artworks available . 

So, which Native American tribes made pottery, and why is Native American pottery a nice thing to buy today? In this article, we will take a look at the tribes that made pottery most often and how it differs depending on the tribal styles. 


A Short History

Pottery was thought to have originated in Asia, where it was made 13,000 years ago, but that was before ancient pottery on the North American continent was discovered. Pottery found in the American Southwest dates to 4,000 BCE, but the origins of this early pottery remains a mystery. 

The pottery discovered on the American continent was created throughout many civilizations, but pre-colonial pottery can be more accurately assigned to specific Native American tribes. These tribes include Cherokees, Iroquois, Cheyenne, and Shoshone. Each with their own unique characteristics. 

Some of these tribes created designs on their pots, bowls and jugs that could identify them as belonging to a particular tribe or region. Other tribes were less fussy, opting instead for a brown pottery style that was functional and non-identifiable.

What Tribes Made Pottery?

Cherokee Pottery

Pottery was very important for Native American tribes, like the Cherokee, who lived in the Southeastern regions; using clay, they made pots, gourds, bowls, plates and jugs. The Cherokee tribe did not use spinning wheels; instead, they dug clay from the earth and molded it by hand. They used water and paddles to smooth it. 

One of the characteristics of Cherokee pottery is the smooth finish it has. The outside of the pottery was treated with water, cloth, and paddles to make it incredibly smooth. This smooth surface pottery was then fired on a hearth outside on flat stones that were sunk into the ground.

Iroquois Pottery

The Iroquois tribe could be found in the northeastern corner of America and consisted one of five Native American Nations; these were Cayuga, Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, and Seneca. The Iroquois tribe also made pottery that was unique to their style and had practical design features. 

As with the Cherokee tribe, the Iroquois tribe dug the clay from the earth and molded it by hand; however, the characteristics are slightly different. Iroquois pottery is black, indicating a low temperature and have rounded bottoms for cooking. 

Cheyenne Pottery

The Cheyenne tribe is known as a Great Plain tribe; they occupied the central territories where they roamed freely in what is now Central Minnesota. The Cheyennes are mainly known for their use of buffalo for many aspects of their culture. However, they also created beautiful ornate pottery with patterns. 

Cheyenne pottery is very iconic; it is probably what you think of when you picture Native American Pottery. These bowls, jugs, and pots were also made with clay found in the earth and rounded at the bottom, but they used dye and special tools to create beautiful designs. 

Shoshone Pottery

The Shoshone Tribe could be found all over America; they mostly settled in the eastern regions and had cultural and linguistic divisions in the North, South, and West as well. In the 1700s, the Shoshone Tribe acquired horses and became a formidable fighting force in America. 

The members of the Shoshone Tribe were also able potters and used special techniques to create beautiful and functional jugs, bowls and gourds that were used in everyday life. Shoshone pottery can be identified by its distinctive shape and style. This pottery has patterns that reflect tribal culture. 

Great Basin Indians

Great Basin Indians occupied much of Central America in pre-colonial times, these areas included Arizona, Utah, and the Plateaus of Idaho; sometimes referred to as the Great Plains. These tribes were nomadic and moved shelters across the Great Basin in different seasons.

This tribe is best known for its brown ware pottery that was designed with functionality in mind. The brown ware pottery of the Great Basin Indians was made by excavating clay from the earth and firing it on a hearth. Although it didn’t have decoration, it used the latest technologies.

Native Pottery Styles

Although Native American pottery is ancient, the best examples of these special pieces date from the pre-colonial era when the Great Plains of America were dominated by the native American tribes such as the Cherokee, the Shoshoni, and the Iroquois, in which each had their styles. 

When it comes to the iconic decoration, you might imagine for Native American pottery, the Iroquois tribe is the most suitable; this pottery is made with functionality in mind but is decorated with dye and artistic designs. Much of the other pottery is brown ware and harder to situate. 

C & D Gifts Native American Pottery

C & D Gifts Native American Pottery is a business located in New Mexico; it is a family business operated by individuals passionate about Native American art and culture. The New Mexico area is close to many pueblos (Native American Settlements), where the designs regularly visit for inspiration. 

At C & D Gifts Native American Art, there is a mix of the new and the old. On the one hand, the owners want to support young artists to continue their traditions and create new pieces that their customers cherish. On the other hand, traditional and iconic pieces can also be found in the online store and bought. 

Final Thoughts

Although it has gone through dramatic changes in a short time, America’s history is fairly recent. The majority of people who learn about American history learn about the colonial era onwards, but before the Europeans settled, the country was populated by indigenous tribes with histories. 

C & D Gifts Native American Art attempts to address the imbalance in the ways we look at history by paying more attention to the native Tribes of America. These tribes had a rich heritage and were deeply connected to the local areas. The richness of this heritage is clear in the traditional pottery.

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