Native American Clothing

Native American clothing is a rich and diverse tradition that reflects the many different cultures and environments of the Americas. From the warm deserts of the Southwest to the frozen Arctic, Native peoples have developed clothing that is both practical and beautiful.


The materials used for Native American clothing vary depending on the region. In the Southwest, for example, cotton and yucca fibers were often used, while in the Arctic, caribou hides were the most common material. Other materials used for Native American clothing include buckskin, elk hide, rabbit fur, and feathers.


Native American clothing was typically made using simple methods such as sewing, weaving, and tanning. Sewing was done using bone needles and sinew thread. Weaving was done on simple looms, and tanning was done using a variety of methods, including smoking, brain tanning, and fleshing.


The design of Native American clothing is often very complex and symbolic. Patterns and designs were often inspired by nature, such as animals, plants, and stars. Colors were also used symbolically, with certain colors representing specific concepts, such as the sky, the earth, or the sun.

Clothing Types

There are many different types of Native American clothing, each with its own unique design and purpose. Some of the most common types of Native American clothing include:

Breechcloth: A simple garment worn by men, consisting of a rectangular piece of cloth that is tied around the waist.

Leggings: A pair of leg coverings that are typically made of buckskin or other animal hide.

Dress: A long, loose-fitting garment that is worn by women. Dresses can be made of a variety of materials, including cotton, wool, buckskin, and fur.

Moccasins: A type of soft shoe that is typically made of buckskin or other animal hide. Moccasins are often decorated with beads, quillwork, or other embellishments.

Headdress: A decorative headpiece that is worn by men and women. Headdresses can be made of a variety of materials, including feathers, fur, and beads.

Ceremonial Clothing

In addition to everyday clothing, Native Americans also wore special clothing for ceremonial occasions. This clothing was often more elaborate and decorated than everyday clothing, and it could be used to represent the wearer’s social status or religious beliefs.


Native American clothing is not just a practical way to stay warm and protected from the elements. It is also a way to express cultural identity, religious beliefs, and social status. Native American clothing is a rich and complex tradition that continues to be an important part of Native American culture today.


Article Index:

The Cherokee Tear Dress

The Cherokee Nation is the only tribe to my knowledge to legislate a specific style of clothing as the official tribal dress. The Cherokees of North Carolina have a completely different style of dress.

True History of the Cherokee Tear Dress

This story may seem shocking and little sad to some who are romantically inclined to the modern myth about the Tear Dress. The myth is that our women wore this style of dress at the time of the Trail of Tears in 1838-39. That is not true for two reasons.