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The Art and Craft of Native American Clothing

Beautiful and hand-crafted, Native American clothing is more than just parts of a wardrobe: Each piece is a work of art. Complex symbols based on the rich history of the various tribes are used to decorate these items with bright colors. Additionally, Native Americans have developed intricate methods for crafting unique jewelry.

What are American Indian clothes made of?

Coming from an era before industrialization, Native Americans traditionally had to handcraft every portion of their clothing. These processes were often laborious as the native people had to work with what was available from their environment. For instance, some made cloth from rigid plant components like bark. By beating the bark until it was flexible, the American Indians were able to extract the fibers from these plants, and these fibers were then woven together.

Native Americans also used the by-products of their hunting. Animal pelts and leather were important materials, especially in colder regions where fur made for warmer clothes. Bone was often hand-carved into beads or tools for working leather and cloth.

For what tribes can Native American clothing be found?

New and used Native American clothing is available for a number of tribes from across the country. Some of the most commonly known Native American clothing comes from the Great Plains like the Pawnee. Native American tribes in the southeastern United States like the Cherokee or the Seminoles also have a distinct style of clothing offered on eBay. Clothing from American Indians native to the Southwest is offered. This includes tribes such as the Navajo.

Types of clothing available

Native American clothing takes many forms, depending on the occasion and a person's needs and personal requirements. Among the many types of clothing available new or used on eBay are:

  • Moccasins - A moccasin is a type of footwear made of soft leather or deerskin. It is constructed of a single piece of leather for the sole and top. The sole is flexible and soft while the upper part is often decorated with embroidery or beading.
  • Ponchos - A poncho is a single large sheet of fabric that has an opening in the center, for the head and may have an additional piece of fabric serving as a hood. A poncho can be decorated to be fashionable but still provide warmth.
  • Dresses - Dresses are made of fabric, typically in solid colors like red, green/yellow, black, and blue. Each dress may be decorated with jingles or beads on the sleeves and on the bottom.
  • Buckskin - Buckskin is a kind of clothing usually consisting of a jacket and leggings constructed from soft leather suede made from deer hide. Buckskin is often trimmed with fringe to allow the item to shed rain.
  • Headdresses - The headdress, sometimes called a roach, is a symbol of honor and status worn on the head. It is made from a variety of materials, including porcupine hair or feathers from various birds. A headdress is decorated with different colored dyes to represent a veteran's success during combat.
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