Native American Clothing History

The speedy world is changing and upgrading so is the fashion industry. It impacted almost every nation and tribe on the earth.

That’s why clothing has changed over the years in native America. These days, clothes are made from cotton, linen, silk, and other materials. In spite of what most people think, Native American tribes have done more for fashion than Paris and Milan. Native Americans used to live everywhere in North America. The dress was a way for each culture to show who they were. Using both local and imported materials, Native American communities became very good at making clothes. That meant that clothes were different by both region and culture.

In this article, we will be discussing native American traditional clothes and the history of their clothing.

Traditions of Native American Dress

Tribespeople wove and bound brightly colored grass strips together to make various things. Traditional Native American dress varied with the seasons and geographic locations.

In the subarctic, they wore leather breechcloths, fur-lined pants, and boots. The Native American headdress, sometimes known as a “war hat,” is a distinctive and recognizable article of clothing. These insignia are worn by Native American leaders. Throughout history, Native Americans have improvised textile garment technology. 

Plant fibers and products were used to create clothes. Native American history is interesting due to its unique geographical aspects. Their clothing expresses this. Jewelry and other accessories are infused with Native American customs and aesthetics.

To better understand the Native American culture, it encourages children to “dress up” as members of that community. Native American customs are represented by this clothing. It encourages Native American creativity and cultural preservation.

When World War II started in 1939, all male citizens of the United States were required to wear uniforms. The men’s clothing trend shifted to include looser suits with better-fitting coats. The military influenced fashion for women.

The Traditional Garb of The Northern Indians

The summers in the north are milder than the winters. Winters in the subarctic can be as cold as -40 degrees Fahrenheit, while summers can reach highs of 85 degrees. This has one of the warmest average annual temperatures on Earth.

The Inuit used fur from specific animals to line their garments and hoods, which kept them warm without letting cold air in. Insulation and water-repellent clothing were both made from caribou. The design of their garment saved lives.

As one travels southward, one must adapt their attire to withstand the harsher winters and gradually warming ground. Moccasins were designed by the Algonquin and Athapaskan peoples of the north for the cold, wet conditions they encountered. Porcupine quills and moose hair were used as ornamentation in their respective establishments.

There were a lot of wardrobe changes necessary due to the weather there. During rituals, there was also special attire.

The Traditional Garb Of The Southern Indians

What native Americans wore in the South was very different from what they wore in the North. The warmer climate dictated a change in the kind of clothing worn by Native Americans living in the south. Cotton and other plant fibers were used to create tunics and other clothing.

Men in the Southwest wore loincloths with belts, and women wore skirts, kilts, or dresses. Deer, antelope, and other natural animal leather garments were worn throughout the colder months. Robes were made with the hair still attached to the leather. There was a need for sturdy boots due to the prickly vegetation and uneven ground.

What Are Native Indian Clothes Made Of?


Before Europeans arrived in the Americas in the 17th century, natives ate wild wildlife and vegetables. Other tribes, such as the Navajo and Oneida, maintained livestock or grew crops to supplement what they obtained in nature. Still, fishing, hunting, and gathering edible plants provided the bulk of their nourishment. Almost all cultures wore animal skins.

After discovering how to tan skin, they started making shoes and garments from it. Because of the animal’s inherent fur, leather clothes were durable, soft, and warm. Some Algonquins and Apaches may have used leather to build their homes’ external walls.

Many Indians believe plants and animals have usable spiritual force. Many felt that wearing an animal’s organs or skeleton would give them some of its inherent abilities. Animal skins become a cultural icon from a pragmatic requirement. Native Americans “took on” the positive traits of the animals pictured as a spiritual practice.


Native Americans relied on indigenous animals and plants for food, housing, and clothing before the 17th-century European influx. Tree bark may be easily removed, dried, and shredded into fibers. These materials made soft, comfy garments. Shredded bark made skirts, aprons, blouses, belts, hats, capes, and even raincoats.

Many tribes made garments from tree bark. Using mulberry bark as the fabric is a distinctive Cherokee tradition. Paiute and Washoe skirts were constructed from sagebrush bark, and Pomo skirts were made from shredded redwood bark. Northwest Coast tribes like the Tlingit and the Suquamish made rain caps and raincoats from cedar tree bark.

Women in India historically weaved and manufactured clothes. Small tree bark was peeled, sun-dried, hammered into a malleable mass, and then shredded into thin, strong threads. These fibers make comfortable, safe garments. Native Americans were accessorized with fringe, painted motifs, porcupine quills, and animal teeth and claws. Most people just threw away their dirty clothes because the bark was so easily available.

Final Words

This essay draws parallels between the significance of Native American clothing in the past and the present. Different circumstances and interpretations gave each phase its own unique flavor. To acquire authentic Native American garments, one must know where to find a reputable maker and be up-to-date on the latest fashion trends.

Know More Traditional Dress Here:

Colombia Traditional Clothing

Pre-Colonial Traditional Filipino Clothing

Brazil Traditional Clothing

Traditional Clothing OF Sri Lanka

Suggested Articles

Leave a Comment