What is Native American Clay Pottery?

Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

Native American Clay Pottery is a 7500-year-old art form. It is a type of pottery in which the clay is fired to make it hard and create various items like cooking and storage vessels, utensils, musical instruments, toys, ceremonial items, and other home decorating objects.


The entire process includes many laborious deeds. Different tribes have their own process of creating Native American clay Pottery. Now, let’s have a glance at this particular form of clay pottery.


Origin of the Native American Clay Pottery

Pottery is not only the oldest craft, but it is one of the oldest art forms. It is believed that pottery was made by hunter-gatherers of Asia about 13000 years ago. However, the skill of pottery began in Central America around 9000 BCE and arrived in North America by 4000 BCE. Most of the North American indigenous people were making clay pottery by 900 CE.


Ironically, the craft came very late to the native people who are the most well-known for their clay pottery today. They have been creating a variety of clay pottery works such as a vase, utensils, and decorative items. However, as per the modern scenario, All tribe silver made in USA turtle pottery is one of the popular Native American Clay Pottery works.


How the Native American Clay Pottery is made?



When a Native American searches for clay to do pottery works, he/she looks for the best clay material available. Different tribes have their own traditional area of clay gathering. The reason behind it is that the quality of clay differs from region to region. So, now, let’s have a look at how the natives make clay pottery.

  1. After the clay is picked, it is sieved to separate out the pebbles and other materials. After this, the clay is dried. Later, water is added to the dry clay and is smoothed to remove air pockets so that it doesn’t break during firing.
  2. The technique for creating amazing pottery works depends on the potters. For instance, a slab of hand-formed clay must be used in slab pottery. However, groups like Mogollon use the paddle and anvil method to do such pottery, while many potters also use the coil and slab technique.
  3. The finished clay piece is now dried until it feels like leather, and then it is sanded. After being sanded, the piece is carved and decorated with designs. In this process, a type of clay is used that is thinner than the clay used to form the body of the pot.
  4. As the slip is still damp after the decoration of the clay, rounded stones are used to polish the clay piece. It gives a satiny finish to the Native American Clay Pottery.
  5. Once the item is slipped and polished, painted designs can be added. The native potters usually use traditional brushes.
  6. The final step is to fire the pottery work. This process also varies from tribe to tribe. After the baking part is done rightly, the fire is reduced to prevent oxygen from reaching the clay pottery.


American Clay pottery is one of the finest traditions of America. It proves the craftsmanship qualities of the Native American people. Nowadays, there are several clay potteries available, and even modern equipment is used to make pottery works. But, if following the tradition is someone’s preference, then handmade items are the best to date.

Latest posts