To Native Americans, turquoise resembles life. It is believed that earth is alive; that all living things, no matter how small, are precious. Turquoise stones are used by medicine men because they possess powers of healing.
“Turquoise stands for water and for sky, for bountiful harvests, health and protection,” said Maxine McBrinn, Curator of Archaeology at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. “Blue-green symbolizes creation and the hope for security and beauty. These ideas were so important that if the stone was not available, its color was represented through other methods.”
In the native Zuni language, the word turquoise means “sky stone.” This language connection between turquoise and sky is also found in Tibet where their sky is spiritually named “the turquoise of Heaven.”
During growing season, in order to call mother earth to pour down her rain, Pueblo dancers wear turquoise regalia during their spiritual ceremonies.
Following the tribal traditions, Navajo connect turquoise to protection and health. Traditionally, when babies are brought into this world, they receive their first turquoise beads. Turquoise is also present in other ceremonies such as in puberty rites, marriage and initiation ceremonies, in healing ceremonies as well as other rituals. Navajo artists are known for their turquoise work after how deeply it is incorporated in their spiritual life.