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The Story Behind Native American Minerals, Gemstones and Petrified Wood

The Story Behind Native American Minerals, Gemstones and Petrified Wood

The Story Behind Native American Minerals, Gemstones and Petrified Wood

The Native Americans were spiritual people, so it is not surprising that they attached specific meanings to the minerals, gemstones, and petrified wood they found all around them. Some of these meanings have been passed down through the generations, and stones that were used by the Native Americans have retained their meanings. Here is the story behind some of the minerals, gemstones, and petrified wood that are still associated with Native Americans today.

Gemstones and Minerals

Gemstones are stones that come from minerals or rocks that can be cut to make jewelry. Most gemstones contain mineral elements, and they are found naturally all over the world. Most gemstones are made from mineral crystals. However, not all gemstones contain minerals, and stones such as pearl and amber are examples of this.

The gemstones and minerals that are most usually associated with Native Americans are:


Jasper is found in a variety of distinct colors. It was often used to form a connection with the earth and could be useful when holding ceremonies to encourage rain.


Leopard skin jasper was also extremely popular among some tribes and was used to fend off animal attacks such as snake bites.

Tiger’s Eye

This mineral was great for creating jewelry because of the assorted colors that run through it naturally. The light reflects off this stone and the bands appear to change color and direction, making this a very mystical gemstone. It was believed to protect the wearer against negativity and spiritual attacks.


This is a beautiful black glass mineral that formed an igneous rock that was extremely popular among Native Americans. They made some beautiful jewelry from it that can still be seen today in artifacts of tribes such as the Apache Indians.

This mineral was also used for hunting as it was found that placing it on the end of hunting weapons made it easier for them to pierce the animal.

Black Onyx

Black was a favorite color for gemstones and minerals for the Native Americans, probably because there was so much of this colored stone around them. Black onyx was also incredibly popular as it was said to soothe the mind and body and draw negative energy away.

Black Onyx

Lapis Lazuli

This gemstone was most admired for its gorgeous blue/purple color among the Native Americans. It is a beautiful mineral that stands out against a less colorful background. This stone is said to promote wisdom and encourage good decision-making. It also works on the mind by helping to restore harmony and promote psychic ability.

Petrified Wood

Petrified wood is wood that has been fossilized over millions of years. The organic material has been replaced by minerals - usually because it has been buried, which means that oxygen can’t get to it - and it becomes fossilized. It retains its cellular structure, so although it may look like wood, it has turned to stone. It can often be a gorgeous color and because a lot of it can be found in the North American region, it had a special place in the hearts of the Native Americans, who originally found it and believed it to have many fantastic properties. There are several examples of petrified wood in Native American culture.


Quartz is a common mineral that is found in modern-day states such as Arizona and Washington. It has a strong cleavage and is easy to split. It was renowned for its healing powers and it was thought to bring good luck, so it was often worn as a charm, such as on this Moldavite Necklace with Star Ruby.

Moldavite Necklace with Star Ruby

Quartz could also be fashioned into weapons. Two derivatives of it, flint and chert, were good for making arrows.


Amber is a type of petrified wood that comes from tree resin, and it has been preserved in the sap of the tree for millions of years. It can also contain fossilized insects and animals, which is where it gets its interesting and unique patterns from. Although it is found in several of today’s U.S. states, it is more often found in the Baltic region of Europe in places such as Russia and Poland.

There are many examples of the use of Native American minerals, gemstones, and petrified wood, and they made some amazing jewelry that can still be found and is frequently copied today. You know that if you are wearing these gorgeous adornments, there is a lot of history and meaning attached to them.