Navajo Silversmithing began about one hundred fifty years ago when a Navajo Blacksmith named Atsidi Sani was shown how to work with Silver by the Spaniards. The Spaniards were coming up to the Southwestern United States seeking Gold and Silver and the Native American Indians admired the shiny Silver ornamentation on the horse gear that the Spaniards had. They had fancy horse bridles and bits, spurs and even Silver on their saddles.
Atsidi taught the art of Navajo Silversmithing to other Navajo Indians and Navajo Silversmithing spread throughout the Navajo Nation quickly as the Navajo people loved Silver. The Navajo Silversmiths would melt down silver coins they got from the U.S. Calvary, then the Trading Posts and Indian Traders.
It was around 1865 when Atsidi Sani began producing Silver buttons which were called conchos. The Native American Indians loved the shiny conchos and soon began embellishing their clothing and then Jewelry. It was not long and the Natives were putting Silver on their leather utensils, bags and so on.
It was about 1880 when the Navajo Silversmiths began incorporating Turquoise into their Silversmithing. When the Navajo Silversmiths started using Turquoise, a giant demand for their Jewelry began with the Native American Indians throughout the Southwest and quickly spread to other American Indian communities as well.
The Traders to the Navajo also appreciated Turquoise Jewelry and brought it to the marketplace in California where it was quickly accepted and appreciated by the city people.
Durango Silver Company has made a nice presentation page on Navajo Silversmithing and the history of Navajo Silversmithing, it has a lot of great information and photos for you to learn more if you are interested. You can view our presentation on our website at Navajo Silversmithing History.
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