With the artistic handicrafts of the tribal community, Native American Indian Clothes have established its prestigious position in the history of Indian Clothing. It has impressed thousands of people with its beauty and richness. The skill, knowledge and tremendous hard work of the ancient community have always attracted the traditional art lovers since edges.
The Native American Indian clothing used to be the creation of tribal women who were specially trained by their ancestors in a traditional system. This whole process was very much cumbersome as it included several steps, which had to be followed with sheer perfection. Being very close to nature, the raw materials used for the Indian Clothing used to be elements like natural fibers, animal skins, beads, quills, shells and so on.
After the men finished their part of the job by hunting and collecting the raw materials, the women used to take over. The first step was cleaning, shaping, dyeing and stitching the skins to give it a form of wearable clothing. Then they did the decorations with the shells, quills, beads and feathers to give it the final rich look of traditional Native American Indian Clothing.
Generally the deer skin, buffalo hides, wampum shells, porcupine quills, eagle feather etc. were used but gradually when the Native American people came into contact with the Europeans, they incorporated certain changes like glass beads instead of wooden beads. Firstly, flint blade and later scissors and steel knives were used for cutting the processed leather. The stitching material used to be “sinew” that is dried back muscles of some mammals.
Being religious and dignified, the Native American people were very much respectful and caring to their surrounding nature, as they had to depend a lot on the nature for fulfilling their day-to-day needs. With their strong believe of the close relationship between men and nature not a single part of the animal carcass was wasted. This expression of respect and love was also depicted in the different styles and patterns of Indian Clothes of different region of the Native American society.
The clothing of the tribal people was enough to determine the difference between them. For example, some tribal women preferred to wear skirts and leggings and some used to wear tunics or mantles while in public. Some Indian men never used shirts and some warrior men preferred to wear specially designed and decorated buckskin war shirts.
The entire process of making Native American Indian clothes took tremendous patience, skills and ability as they also symbolized the power and position of the Native American families and society. The Native American women, used to prepare these garment for their dearer and nearer with immense love, affection and respect and keeping into mind the need and the deed of their family members. This Indian Clothing used to be different for each tribal community with the accessories like ornaments, belts, collars, headwear, leg wear, foot wear etc. The orientation, design and decorations like beadwork, and other apparels also changed with the time that is to say, before and after colonization.
The ethnic impressive beauty and rich style of the Native American Indian Cloths have gained such popularity that you will find them even today in ethnic shops and museums. Even today the Native American People continue with this art that shows their togetherness with their family and the surrounding nature. Especially the traditional garments like “Regalia” or the specialized shoes like “Moccasin” that are used for occasions, are still praised as the traditional Native American Indian Clothes.
Joseph Paige © 2006