When North America was first discovered, the early settlers found that the land was not completely uninhabited—there were already people living in the Newfound Land. These people were considered akin to animals by the European settlers, used to prim society and “civilized living.” But soon, out of necessity, the pioneers had to ask these very inferiors for help, or else they would die. The settlers did not know how to live off the land, and it was the native people who taught them how to plant corn, fish and hunt. These same Native Americans were a tribal people, with a custom that is growing to be outdated as time progresses. The people believed deeply in the sacred traditions and worshipped the elemental forces of nature. In the midst of all the rituals, colors also played a vital role, although different tribes had different interpretations of color.
The designs of the Native Americans were symbolic of many things, but the specific interpretation of the design was decided by the colors used. The Cherokee tribe named the four points of the earth as colors; north being blue, south as white, east as red and west as black. The colors used in clothing came from natural dyes extracted from the earth, plants or animal remains. The natives were extremely skilled at cloth work, dying the cotton and leather with different colors for different occasions.
White was the color of death, snow and winter; the season in which the earth dies only to be reborn as spring comes round. Black too was a symbol of death, as well as disease, cold, night and the underworld. The masculine power was also thought to be black in color. Red, on the other hand, was used to mark war stripes on the face of warriors, signaling their aggression. Hurt, both physical and internal, was also portrayed by red. Red meant vitality, life, the day, and also, the mortal nature of human beings, shown by the sunset that lays rest to each passing day. Green was the color for summer, the promise of rain and the nature of the earth. Green was the season of plenty, and it symbolized harmony and satisfaction. Blue was the female color; the color of the sky and the water. The clouds, moon, thunder and lightning were all thought to be blue feminine aspects, whereas the sun was masculine. Interestingly, blue also depicted sadness.
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