- The clothing, or costume, of the Indian consisted mainly of skins, feathers,
and woven materials. He procured everything he needed right from
nature. Being a great hunter, he killed his game with the idea of
supplying himself not only with food, but also with clothing, tools,
and utensils, as well.
For clothing, the Indian used the skins
and hides of the deer, buffalo, bear, caribou, and other small animals.
He made decorations from the quills of the porcupine, and beads from shells,
bone, claws, teeth, and even berries. he used the coarse hair of
animals for braiding and decoration. Feathers of birds were made
into robes, dresses, and headdresses.
The moccasin covered and protected the
Indian's feet. the Timber or Woodland Indians had a soft-soled moccasin
made entirely from one piece, sewed to a tongue or flap at the top.
The Plains Indians had a moccasin made of two pieces, one of rawhide for
the sole and the other of soft buckskin for the upper part. Indians
decorated their moccasins with gayly colored beads and porcupine quills.
The Indian loved bright colors. In
many cases and designs on his clothes, or those he used on his face and
body, had a meaning. he had colors for male and female, for the four
points of the compass, and for war and peace.
Men were usually fully dressed when they
wore moccasins, breechcloth, leggings, and robe. Women wrapped a
wide piece of softened skin or woven material around their waists for a
dress, and sometimes wore a jacket. The Algonquian women wore the
slit skirt long before the white woman. Women also wore moccasins
Indians gave particular attention to their
hair, greased it with bear oil, and decorated it with fur, feathers, beads,
and other things. some wore a band of some skin about the head with
bangles or a row of feathers. Some wove this band from grass.
Other Indians wore fur turbans. The Dakota and many western tribes
wore drooping feather headdresses. some wore only one or two feathers,
for all such feathers had a meaning and usually had to be won by some brave
Because the Dakota Indian's dress is picturesque
it has come to symbolize the dress of all Indians. Even paintings
of Indians receiving the Pilgrim fathers show the red man dressed as a
Dakota. A Seminole Indian marching in the Presidential Inaugural
Parade at Washington might be dressed as a Dakota Chief. One artist
painted Pocahontas in the dress of a Sioux bride.
No Indian worried about clothes until he
was ten or more years old. His own skin was satisfactory. Even
when older he wore as little as possible. A blanket sometimes was
his chief article of dress.
To get rid of lice in his clothes, the
Indian might leave everything he was wearing on an anthill for a day or
so. this was his cleaning establishment. Some Indians preserved
their furs and pelts from moths by drying the body of a bird, either the
martin or the "fisher," pounding it into powder, and then sprinkling it
over the fur.
within this Site
[ Bark Craft