I am writing this to give you a few things to consider when you find Native American Items. These are: Where was it found? What was its purpose? How old is it? Is there a story behind the design?
Where it was found can give you a hint of where to start looking for the Tribe that made it. It could be from a Woodlands Tribe, a Plains Tribe, a Southwest Tribe, a Northwest Tribe, a Coastal Tribe, or even an Inuit Tribe. Once you find out which general area it is from, you then have to determine which of the General Tribes under that it is from. If you find out for example that it is from a Plains Tribe, you then have to determine if it is Sioux, Omaha, Winnebago, Ponca, etc. Now after you find out all of that, you still have more work to do. Say you have now determined that it is Plains Indian, Sioux Tribe, you now have to go further and determine if is is: Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, Rosebud...etc. Once you know all that you may be able to find out who made the item, how old it is, and an approximate value on it.
The design on the item the will have a special meaning to that particular tribe, but the colors will also have a certain meaning in that tribe as well, especially in the case of beaded items, baskets, or blankets. Design and color are a way to tell a story without words. Sometimes the makers are trying to tell a story, as is most likely the case in the older Native American Items. However, in the newer items, the maker is only putting the colors and designs together that are pleasing to them, with no thought of telling a story.
I hope this has helped you out just a little bit. I may post a blog later on about specific Native American Items.