The clothing Native Americans wore came directly from the animal kingdom. Elk, moose, buffalo, mountain sheep and antelope hides were sewn together with bone awls and sinew. The porcupine quills, human hair, peyote rattles, grizzly bear claws, beads, eagle feathers and paint used to decorate the clothing offer a silent glimpse into the way of life and the cultures long lost. Each article was different from tribe to tribe, yet each revealed the personality of the people who made them.
When the Indians were herded onto reservations and forbidden to practice their customs many of their possessions went to private collectors. Today they call these prized objects "art". But if you scour Native American languages no word comes close to our definition of art. The idea of creating art for its own sake was crazy to the Natives. For traditional Native Americans, there was no separation between life and art. There was no separation between what was beautiful and what was functional. They lived day-by-day, off the land, as an act of faith. Their spirituality, clothing, ceremonies, sacred objects, were entwined with life. No words were needed to separate them.