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Native American Gifting Customs


    • Tobacco is considered a sacred plant among Native Americans. This plant represents the mind and direction to the east. The preferred form of tobacco is referred to as a red willow mix. Tobacco is highly respected and honored as a gift since elders believe it connects worlds together. Traditional Native American ceremonies burn tobacco to invoke energies of the universe.

    Star Quilts

    • Native Americans view the star as a sacred symbol and associate it with honor. The belief is a longstanding custom that originated from their ancestors. Star images are woven onto blankets and given to people during different occasions such as weddings, births, and funerals. Many tribes believe the blankets protect the recipient through life and after dying. Native Americans prefer to give star quilts to others rather than receive them.

    Native American Wedding Vase

    • One of the oldest rituals celebrated by Native Americans is the wedding vase ceremony. Tradition requires the groom's parents to design and create the vase for the couple. A special liquid mixture is prepared by a medicine man and poured into the vase for the couple to drink simultaneously. Each part of the vase represents aspects of the bride and groom's new life together. The wedding vase is kept in the family as an heirloom.


    • Baskets play an important role in the lives of many tribes including the Chumash. Native Americans use their straw baskets to give as gifts and use for ceremonies. The baskets may be woven tightly enough to carry water and cook food inside. In the past, Native American mothers used the baskets to place their babies in while traveling. Modern weavers study old straw basket designs and continue to make these items for ceremonial events.

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