Smoke Signals newsletter

    Painted Ponies

Native Americans were the original people here and today, their heritage is integrally woven into the culture of the American West and reflected in the American spirit from coast to coast. Their hearts and souls were reflected in the art and the artifacts they created for both themselves and for the trading market. This section is dedicated to them, their stories and their art from the past and today.

The Turquoise Crisis

The Turquoise Crisis: Buyer Beware!

You know it by its color – blue as the Arizona sky. Sometime it’s jade green or lime, rich with copper veining. Whatever the shade, you know it as turquoise, once considered the property of kings. Or is it?


Lone Pine

A Glimpse Into the Life of the Paiute of Lone Pine 12,000 Years Ago

So often, we don't take advantage of turning off the main highway and driving the back roads where there is a treasure of Native American culture and history to be discovered and explored. In this case it's a jog off California Highway 395 to Lone Pine where you will discover a rugged landscape created by volcanoes over 440,000 years ago and evidence of the thriving culture of the Southern Paiute Indians dating back 12,000 years. Now this is a side trip worth taking.


Beaded moccasin

Beads for the Sole

It is amazing sometimes how misinformation gains and maintains a life of its own, no matter how carefully we try to debunk errors about art, artifacts, history, and culture. I am convinced that one reason for this is simply that people can be surprisingly lazy, no matter how passionate they are, about really trying to become their own authorities when it comes to the things they collect. A case in point is wonderful beaded Northern Plains moccasins that also have the bottom surfaces fully beaded in colorful designs compatible with the tops.


Beautiful Baskets of Northwest California

The Beautiful Baskets of Northwest California

The livin' was easy, and the art was superb. From the late 1800s, the tribes of the far Northwestern California created baskets unmatched for beauty anywhere in the world. It has been speculated that this was possible partly because the climate was fairly benign, the rivers were teeming with salmon, the woods full of deer, and the oaks loaded with acorns. This allowed for a culture in which talented women were able to weave long hours every day, honing their skills to a level which is not possible in these complicated modern times, and creating baskets of rare beauty.


Indian Camp Blankets

Stuff I Know About Indian Camp Blankets

You'll recall that the fine wool geometric pattern blankets produced by Pendleton Woolen Mills and their competitors instantly became a staple of North American Indian life and remain so today. Pendleton is the only surviving pioneer trade blanket manufacturer and was the only mill that specifically went into business to create blankets for the Indian market. They manufactured their first blanket in 1896 and from the beginning made a very high quality product that commanded a good price.


trade blanket

Indian Trade Blankets 101

Southwestern traders were paying out hard currency to stock the shelves of their posts with staples like coffee, flour and tobacco and not getting cash in return from their Navajo clientele. They needed to develop a product that could put hard currency back in their pocket. Their solution was a heavier, thicker and usually larger textile than the Navajo had ever woven before that could go on the floors of Anglo homes - they invented the Navajo rug! So successful was this product that Navajo looms transitioned completely to producing commercial weavings for the traders and no longer made their traditional blankets at all.




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Mission Statement

Smoke Signals blows your way from High Noon Western Americana of Los Angeles, California, producers of the High Noon Antique Show & Auction for 25 years (1991-2014). Smoke Signals eMagazine was founded in 2010 from a desire to share thoughts and facts with the High Noon community and look at what is going on in the Western world while feeding our readers with great recipes and giving advertisers a chance to blow their own smoke.

And hopefully we educate along the way.

Linda Kohn Sherwood, Editor

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