What Is Traditional Cherokee Indian Clothing?

Traditional Cherokee Indian clothing was made from animal hides stitched together to make dresses for women and tunics and leggings for men. The edges of the leather were often trimmed into fringes or tassels for decoration, and some articles of clothing were decorated with beads; however, the Cherokee generally did not practice beading on their clothing as extensively as other tribes, such as the Navajo.

According to a the Cherokee Nation, after the Cherokees established contact with Europeans around the 17th century, fashions changed. Europeans introduced woven fabrics, such as wool and cotton, and many men adopted work shirts and jackets of European style. Women’s dresses and the moccasins and leggings worn by both genders stayed the same well into the 19th century, and some Cherokee still wear these styles on special occasions today.

The non-profit organization Native Languages of the Americas also notes one of the most distinctive features of Cherokee Indian fashion. Adult men of the Cherokee tribe were heavily tattooed on their chests and faces, and many traditional tunics and other articles of clothing were designed with short sleeves so that these tattoos were visible. Women were not tattooed, but their dresses also had short or three-quarter-length sleeves to prevent the fabric from interfering with work.