What Do Indian People Wear?


Quick Answer

Most Native Americans wear contemporary American and Canadian style clothing in their daily lives and wear traditional American Indian clothing for ceremonies and special occasions. According to Native Languages of the Americas, traditional Native clothing is referred to as regalia and is typically worn at powwows and religious ceremonies.

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Full Answer

The traditional clothing for which Native Americans are known, such as breechclothes and head dresses, were usually made of deer skin and worn by men. Native American women, on the other hand, traditionally wore skirts and leggings made from animal skins decorated with designs and patterns. The patterns on the clothing and the exact style varied from tribe to tribe. For instance, most Native American men did not wear shirts, but Native warriors that were of the Plains tribes wore buckskin war shirts that were often decorated with hair, ermine tails and intricate beadwork.

Over time, Natives began to incorporate their beadwork, embroidery and designs onto traditional American and Canadian style clothing, which later became known as American Indian apparel. Post-colonial garments, such as skirts, shawls and jackets, were adapted into Native American ribbon skirts, woolen sweaters, satin shawls, jingle dresses, Seminole patchwork skirts and the Cherokee tear dress. By the 1800s, these styles of clothing were distinctively viewed as American Indian clothes even though they were adapted from European styles. In contemporary Native American tribes, many Natives still wear buckskins, ribbon dresses and moccasins, particularly to formal events. However, in their daily lives, most Natives have traded in their buckskins for jeans.

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