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Tribal Jewelry, Rare Native Artifacts - Saving What Is Left

Apr 18, 2008
My father was a Canadian Mountie, one of those Sergeant Preston types, even at times with a sled dog to get into deep native lands in north Canada, where I was born. We were south of polar bears, but only by about five hundred miles: it could get cold in winter! As a matter of fact, dad bunked some times at the home where a young Eric Neilson grew up, before he went on to Hollywood fame. Eric, I read, brought his then widowed dad to live out his life in California. But they were at the northern edge of farming, land fading into forests, where natives still outnumbered Europeans, and still do.

So Eric and my dad would have been very familiar with native and tribal jewelry: my dad had a pair of mocassins and they were carefully sewn inlaid with beads and small ornate items that showed much human energy had been put into these walking shoes. In my early teens I could still fit into them, and would walk around inside the house when my father was not home. And I would smile that I was indeed walking in another person's mocassins, and tried to imagine their life in the northern woods. Which now includes diamonds, that have recently been found in abundance, some on native reserves.

So those beaded mocassins are becoming much more confidently worn now by a proud people who are being trained into high technology understanding of carbon and how diamonds are that much more valuable per pound than the coal also found in these ancient rocks. And the great good fortune here in the north of Canada, and also down in hot desert Australia, is that these huge new rich finds are in a democracy, which makes all the difference. No local warlords who will fence off, lay land mines, subvert the people into a feudal slavery and make diamond ownership a moral question.

Not any more. In Canada, locals are being given prior rights to earn and learn how to deal with diamonds, as taught by experts brought in from Antwerp to teach, not take over. New partnerships include people who still enjoy their tribal jewelry, but the amazing facts that the Canadian diamonds, in particular, break down into manageable clusters now allows smaller diamonds to be sold at greater discounts than could have been imagined a decade ago. What would be inconceivable is now a reality, which may last, or not.

What we do know is that a defeated native people who accepted our beads while we stole their land, really, are now having their chance to join the modern world, and not having to feel the ill will of moving to a white man's city. Diamond towns are creating clusters of activity while homes get built, heavy machinery arrives, trucks need drivers, roads connect places for supplies in and export out. Good news should travel fast, and while you can, you could still have a piece of tribal jewelry, knowing you could now upgrade them also with some bargain tribal diamonds.

Either way, prices of a diminishing supply, such as the variety of the first peoples to arrive, are a fascinating glimpse of life when heaven was the happy hunting ground. But you still had to have lived a noble life. So you qualify; welcome.
About the Author
Derek Dashwood enjoys noticing positive ways we progress, the combining of science into the humanities to measure politics, wise use and mis use of power and protective love at Tribal Jewelry
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