Make your own free website on Tripod.com
 

Costume - 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 and legging-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 act.

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.
 
 

Related Information within this Site
[ Bark Craft ][ Headdress ][ Iroquois ][ Wampum ]