Atikamekw

The Atikamekw are the indigenous inhabitants of the area they refer to as "Our Land", in the upper Saint-Maurice River valley of Quebec (186 mi) north of Montreal, Canada. The Atikamekw's population currently stands at around 4500. They have a tradition of agriculture as well as fishing, hunting and gathering. They have close traditional ties with the Innu people, who were their historical allies against the Inuit.

The Atikamekw language, a variant of the Cree language in the Algonquian family, is still in everyday use, making it therefore among the indigenous languages least threatened with extinction. But their home land has largely been appropriated by logging companies and their ancient way of life is almost extinct. Their name, which literally means "Whitefish". The French colonists referred to them as Têtes-de-Boules, meaning "Ball-Heads" or "Round-Heads".

The early documents begin to mention the Atikamekw at beginning of the 17th century, when they lived in the boreal forest of the upper Mauricie. They had formed themselves into groups of 500 to 600 people, thus present themselves as "one of the nations more considerable of the north".

Eating, they fished, hunted, and trapped, supplementing their diet with agricultural products such as corn and maple syrup that the Atikamekw made by boiling the sap extracted from maple trees. Implements would be made of wood and clothing of animal hides, and obtaining other necessities through trade with tribes in nearby areas. In summer, the Atikamekw would gather at places like Wemotaci. Then in the fall, they would pack up and disperse through the boreal forest for the winter.

When the French arrived in the region, the Atikamekw became increasingly dependent on externally controlled trade, particularly the fur trade. They were considered a peaceful people, sharing the region with the Innu in the east, the Cree in the north, and Algonquins to the south. But they had conflicts with the Inuit. Through their Innu allies, the Atikamekw caught devastating diseases that were brought over by the Europeans. Around 1670-1680, a smallpox epidemic devastated the Atikamekw tribe.

The French pulled the Atikamekw into a trade war between the Montagnais and the Iroquois in which the Atikamekw and Innus did not fare well. Those Atikamekw who had survived the smallpox were slaughtered by the Iroquois.

However, at the start of the 18th century, a group called "Tête-de-Boule" reappeared in the region. While there exists no certainty as to the origin of this group, they may have been a regrouping of the few Atikamekw survivors and who were possibly associated with other indigenous nomadic tribes. But they are considered to be unrelated to the former Atikamekw even though they lived in the same area and took on the same name.

Today, the Atikamekw, like their historical allies the Innus, suffer from mercury poisoning due to the central electric power companies that had contaminated the water supply. Despite all these events, the Atikamekw were not moved off their traditional grounds.

The Atikamekw have their own traditional culture, language and rituals, though they had strong influences from the neighboring peoples. From this grouping, three prominent communities developed, where each of the three communities spoke the same language but with unique dialects reflecting each of the three. Members of the tribe as a whole generally speak the Atikamekw language, but the majority do not write it.

Traditionally, the Atikamekw lived in dome-shaped homes, covered with bark called "piskokan". The floor was carpeted with spruce boughs and furs were used as beds and blankets. The Atikamekw had developed a technique for preserving meat by smoking and drying, a process still practiced by some families. Collected berries were processed into a paste that could be preserved for several weeks.

The making of hunting equipment (bows, snowshoes, sled dog) as well as clothing and blankets, was in former times a task necessary for survival. Like all First Nations, the Atikamekw stood apart by a special way to decorate their clothing. One distinguishing feature were the bells covering their ceremonial robes that were made of bones emptied of the marrow.

The Atikamekw have been recognized for their skill in crafting birch bark items such as baskets and canoes, decorated with beautiful designs. These skills were always transmitted from generation to generation so that even today they are still practiced, giving them the nickname "people of the bark". Interestingly, handicrafts made from birch bark is less practiced in Obedjiwan than in other communities, since it is located in the boreal forest where conifer trees dominate.

Native Americans have been handcrafting jewelry since they first drew inspiration from their natural surroundings and transformed shell and stone into wearable jewelry. Some of the oldest discovered pieces date from over 10,000 years ago. The skilled artisans at Alltribes continue the age-old tradition and create captivating works of art that will surpass your expectations!

Alltribes is one of the rare workshops that you can actually come in and visit, and see Native Americans creating extraordinary pieces of jewelry. We are conveniently located near Scottsdale, Mesa and Phoenix, AZ in the historic town of Gilbert. Alltribes Native American Art and Jewelry blends ancient history, natural beauty, and unparalleled expertise flawlessly.

Our Jewelry

The design and quality of our Silver and Turquoise jewelry are unmatched and stand far above the rest. Turquoise conveys a special meaning as it has for centuries and in populations across the globe. Turquoise signifies healing, spirit and good fortune. The masterful techniques, our artisans incorporate this semi-precious stone into beautiful and intricate designs, draws customers from around the world.

You can own a piece of Native American artistry without spending a fortune. Alltribes provides deep discounts because we don't purchase our jewelry elsewhere. Our in-house artists and silversmiths create custom pieces without the extra expenses of middlemen, shipping and tariffs.

Our Local History

Gilbert, AZ provides the ideal location for crafting our Native American jewelry. The Navajo and Hopi Indian tribes have inhabited nearby lands for many thousands of years. Their eternal respect for natural beauty and their innate talent shines through in every handcrafted piece of jewelry.

Our dazzling, Sleeping Beauty Turquoise comes from a nearby mine in Globe, AZ. This unique and exceedingly rare turquoise is renowned for its hardness, durability, and gorgeous color. Our artisans preserve the natural beauty of this precious stone, so you can admire its elegance for years to come. A hand buffed polish protects the stones and heightens its natural beauty.

Our Tradition

In addition to Native American jewelry, Alltribes upholds the ancient traditions of Native Americans by offering more than remarkable jewelry. You can also own Hopi Kachina dolls, pueblo pottery, hand-dyed leather belts, dreamcatchers, tomahawks and other Southwestern and Native American artifacts, to beautify your home and your life. It is our pleasure, to help spread knowledge about the Native American culture to the general public.

As part of our continuing effort to inform and inspire, we offer a vast array of in-depth knowledge for those who want to learn more about Native Americans and the Southwest. Our online knowledge center is free for all and includes some of the most interesting and complete information available online.

Alltribes has been serving our valued customers for over 50 years, so you can rest assured that when you have a question or concern, we'll be right here, ready to help. When you purchase something online today, you never know if the company will still be there, next week or next month.

Alltribes' reputation and longstanding experience ensure you get more than just jewelry – you get a wealth of seasoned knowledge and exceptional service…..that you can count on! We consider our customers to be part of our extended family and we're proud to say that our family now spans continents. We'd love to have you join us!

In addition to our local Native American products, we offer distinguished wares, sourced from Native American tribes across the U.S. Navajo, Hopi, Zuni and other Native American artists provide one-of-a-kind items that we proudly offer to you, at direct to you prices!

Alltribes is much more than just a manufacturer, store and knowledge center. We keep a jewelry workshop on site. If you want a custom design, our silversmiths will work with you to turn your dream into reality. Have an idea for something new? Talk with our artisans and discuss how to bring it to fruition. And should your beloved jewelry ever need to be repaired, we help with that, too.

Whether you're a Native American enthusiast, a collector, a designer or simply someone who loves beauty, Alltribes showcases a diverse collection of superior artifacts, sure to satisfy even the most selective customer.