1. Designs geometric and usually symmetrical.
2. Designs spread out to cover most of the background.
3. Many lines and geometrical figures held together by a central design.
4. Triangles and lines with three-pronged forks.
5. Large spaces of background broken up with lines and crosses.
6. Small squares added to crosses, lines and larger squares.
7. Small designs added to give a finished look to the whole design.
Crazy Horse’s belt contains three sets of three geometric symbols surrounded by red ochre or vemilion colored band which usually conveyed an open declaration of war, or a summons to allies to begin hostilities. Red glass beads of any wampum size and shape weren’t used until the 1800’s by Native Americans. A red band around the perimeter usually represented a fence or boundary that enclosed the tribes bound together in war by the treaty.
Note there are four geometric patterns repeated three times encircled with band designed in the belt.
The Arapaho, Blackfoot, Crow, Assiniboin, Gros Ventre and Yanktonia Dakota tribes are known for geometric patterns. The Sioux made extensive use of triangles. They had checkerboard motifs in squares and triangles with fully beaded backgrounds in yellow, light blue, red and sometimes white. The Blackfoot were the leaders of this style, and usually preferred a yellow background. The Native American beadwork styles of the central Plains produced by the Teton and Yanktonia Dakota (Sioux), Cheyenne and Arapaho consisted of large areas covered with backgrounds in white or blue beads and figures in blue, green, red, yellow and white. Pink was usually denoted females and blue represented males.
The number three is a very meaningful number, interwoven throughout Native American culture. There are three clans, the Wolves, Bears and Turtles. Agriculture provided the three mainstays of their diet, corn, beans and squash. These plants, called the Three Sisters, were highly revered. The various stages of the growing seasons were often connected to traditional celebrations and rites. Only a wampum reader could determine the actual meaning of this belt’s designs and colors.
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