INSIDE: Crystals are perhaps the most popular token of New Age lifestyles and practices, but they're nothing new in ancient healing systems. Native American gemstones display the deep histories of crystals and spiritual healing in indigenous communities. Read on to learn about some of their most powerful stones…
Considering the fascination we now have with crystals and their healing potential, it’s amazing (and disappointing) to think about how often societies who have deep relationships with stones have come under attack by colonizers and explorers for their “barbaric” and “uneducated” practices.
In the late-nineteenth century, though more brutal fronts had been made for centuries before, the “Code of Indian Offenses” threatened the traditional role of medicine men and women in indigenous societies. Banned from using healing devices, like crystals, these healers could face prison time or worse.
These codes stayed in full effect for nearly 50 years, and only in 1978 did the United States Federal Government under President Jimmy Carter admit to and reverse the abuse on religious and spiritual practice for indigenous peoples. He enshrined the protection of their sacred practices in the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
In recent years, the treatment methods and practices so central to indigenous life for centuries have been acknowledged as complementary and alternative medicines necessary for a holistic approach to health and wellbeing.
The rich history of Native American gemstones in traditional, ceremonial use contains a multitude of perspectives from over 2,000 distinct tribes of indigenous people in North America alone.
While we cannot cover all of the meanings and applications of crystals in Native American healing practices, we want to bring awareness to this crucial diversity and give a glimpse into the broad scope of sacred crystal connections.
The Importance of Healing Stones in Native American Culture
Native American gemstones have critical use as tools and totems for healing individuals and harmonizing indigenous communities. Health in indigenous cultures reflects spiritual vitality and continual work to strengthen it and keep the physical body in sync with nature.
Healing Stones for Personal Treatment
Thinking about health as a balance with the natural world, many indigenous people believe that illness and harm comes when a person loses touch and harmony with Earth.
Disharmony comes through a person’s thoughts and actions. A person with negative habits or bad thoughts and emotions invites the consequences that come from an imbalance with nature’s perfect, positive gifts.
In these natural healing traditions, a person can seek treatment from a medicine man or woman. Medicine men and women administered treatment in indigenous communities through alternative healing methods that used objects like crystals and sacred symbols.
As we’ve mentioned before, crystal connections are very subtle and unique for each person. Indigenous healing traditions demonstrate this connection in individual healing treatments.
Healing through sacred objects like crystals and other spiritual rituals is held very personal and private between the healer and the patient. The patient’s preferences reign supreme as to how to approach and incorporate different practices into treatment.
The medicine person respects and listens to the vibrations of the individual before moving forward in healing with certain crystals or other talismans.
Healing Stones for Communal Peace
The illness of an individual has significant impact on the tight-knit community of a tribe. So, medicine men and women also address the healing of the community.
They help the community to understand how the disharmony of one puts the entire community out of balance with nature. The negative energy that afflicts an individual can reverberate out to the group. The community itself may also suffer collectively because of communal choices and actions, not necessarily because of a single sick individual.
With the aid of Native American gemstones, potent symbols, and herbs like sage or palo santo, traditional indigenous healers officiate over rituals and ceremonies that cleanse the lingering energy of illness and weakness to revitalize the community and restore it in harmony with nature.
How Native Americans Used Crystals & Stones
The incredible skills that indigenous communities developed to work with healing stones and crystals testifies to the advanced methods present in Native American tribes for centuries.
The ability to grind smooth crystals, carve stone details, and stitch intricate patterns came from enduring lineages of practice. In turn, these skills brought many uses for Native American healing stones in their culture.
Connection With Spirit Guides
Native American gemstones make tangible the connection of humans with spirit guides. Certain stones are understood to evoke spirits and invite them into human presence.
By keeping crystals, Native Americans develop a natural, balanced protection with the Earth. They can also access different divine realms through crystals and other sacred objects and substances, like peyote.
Keeping Record of History
The design of crystal ornaments and jewelry to wear as amulets serve to tell long-held oral traditions and stories of indigenous history.
Symbols delicately etched into crystals and gemstones help create a record to remember certain aspects of Native American culture.
Trade & Economy
While the spiritual significance of crystals and stones for indigenous people have carried through ages, their craft using these materials in jewelry and for other purposes implemented new designs and technologies for production that they learned through trade.
These influences came through economic networks and human migration. Not all migration that encroached on these societies had positive results, such as the spread of famine and disease. But indigenous people did find major markets for their thoughtfully created crystal work.
17 Native American Gemstones
With an expansive idea of how important Native American crystals have been to indigenous peoples, let’s take a dive into some of the gemstones with profound spiritual meaning and healing properties.
The deep blue color of Lapis Lazuli, a crystal found in California and Colorado, has been a Wisdom Keeper for many cultures.
In Native American tribes, this stone guides awareness and knowledge to a person. It cleanses the mind to make way for wisdom in decisions.
For indigenous healers, Lapis Lazuli helps channel psychic ability and give strength to treat patients with spiritual medicine. It restores harmony in relationships that fortify the community.
Incredibly popular among Native American gemstones, the dark sheen of Black Onyx helps soothe the mind and body in healing practice.
The black color magnetizes and collects negative energy so that spirit guides can focus on treating the soul with positive auras.
Tiger’s Eye lends itself to jewelry and pendants because of its chatoyancy – the fibrous quality that creates bands of color. With light aimed in different directions on the stone, the bands seem to change position within the stone.
Tiger’s Eye in indigenous communities serves the dual purpose of instilling courage to continue in the traditional beliefs of their spirits and deity and protecting against negative influences and spiritual attack.
Amber is a unique Native American crystal because it isn’t exactly a crystal. It's actually ancient tree resin that is between 30 to 90 million years old that trapped fossils and organisms in sticky sap and preserved them through millennia.
Its ability to suspend life in its form demonstrates the earth connection and reminds people to respect nature to carry on the spiritual story.
Agate’s translucent to semi-transparent bands of color give it an airy quality as light peeks through its edges.
In Native American culture, its lightness soothes thoughts and emotions in order to fortify harmony within the community. Agate can take negative vibrations and transform them.
This stone has had common use in healing elixirs administered by medicine men and women. Agate draws focus and perception to foster mental creativity.
Chrysocolla has had important use in indigenous cultures as decorative pieces and as ceremonial talismans.
This crystal is relatively soft, and other minerals are often found connected to it, which give it a vibrant color and appearance. It resembles an atmospheric look at the earth, a strong reminder of nature’s power.
In the midst of the soothing properties of many Native American gemstones, Carnelian finds its place as a mighty force to restore passion and vitality.
It works to dispel negative emotions of fear, anger, and jealousy and to heal feelings of apathy and sadness. Carnelian brings stability to help those suffering through myriad forms of abuse.
Howlite serves many purposes in indigenous craft. With its white color foundation with trace-veins of black and brown, It can pass as White Turquoise or be dyed to take on other colors in jewelry and ornaments.
Howlite has the potential to open spiritual consciousness. It invites awareness and recognition of the higher truth that brings individual and collective balance.
These Native American gemstones are believed to protect wearers against snake and spider bites and to give courage to actively be in this world.
Unakite Jasper promotes self-awareness in indigenous healing practices so that individuals can find grounding as they begin to understand what influences have brought harm or illness on them.
For indigenous women, Unakite Jasper is an important stone for reproductive health and childbirth, and it protects the heart and circulation.
The dark shades of Labradorite give this crystal a color-shifting ability – in bright light, it displays shades of blue, gold, and green, while in dim light, a dark green to grey hue.
The variety of colors in these Native American gemstones demonstrate the good fortune and joy available when negative energy dissolves away. As a healing crystal, it is believed to help fight infection.
Reflective of ocean tide pools, Larimar solidifies the intimate relationship of human and Earth.
In indigenous healing practices, this crystal aids in finding the roots of illness and pain to highlight spiritual afflictions on the body.
A harbinger of peace and harmony, Native American gemstones called Lepidolite bring clarity and understanding to communities. It helps spread calming energy to allow for considerable self-awareness in relationship to the collective needs.
Another grounding stone, Pyrite ignites the deep relationship with Earth. It ushers in stability that relying on nature can bring while also spreading vitality and growth from the earth.
Serpentine sharpens intuition and inner peace. These Native American healing stones encourage self control in order to pursue destiny and success with tender love and calm.
In indigenous culture, this crystal demonstrates a sign of respect to the elders. With its snakeskin-like appearance, it wards off snake bites too.
Snowflake Obsidian shows small white or grey impurities in Black Obsidian, like snowflakes dotting the crystal surface. Obsidian itself forms when lava rapidly cools above the ground, creating volcanic glass. Its sharp edges are useful in crafting tools.
Snowflake Obsidian works on energetic vibrations, removing negativity from an environment while attracting positive change to take its place. It has grounding, protective qualities that reduce stress.
Similar to Amber in that it isn’t actually a crystal, Abalone Shell has so many uses for Native American traditions. The iridescent inner lining of a mollusk shell, the organism responsible for making Mother of Pearl, Abalone Shell is used to make beads and lend prismatic reflective color.
Abalone Shell generates solace and comfort, bringing stasis and peace. Sourced from the ocean, it infuses beauty, delight, power, and protection throughout life’s journeys.
Indigenous cultures hold so many important lessons for spreading holistic health in body, mind, and spirit. It is critical to respect and learn from these ancient traditions.
Understanding the importance of Native American gemstones within these societies is a great way to learn about and connect with other cultures and communities in developing a just and balanced relationship with Earth.
* Crystals and stones should not be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Please read our full disclosure notice here.