North American Native Americans: Gender Trends

Plains tribes
Figure This unidentified Native American girl wears a polkadot shirt and long skirt. These textiles presumablythe fact that the cabinet portrait was taken in the laete-19th cntury, perhaps the 1880s. Earlier she probanly would have worn buckskins. Her hair was done in pig tails and a center part. Notice the coup stick, this was for men, but a pestgious item in Native Amtican society. This suggests the Plains tribes, perhaps the Cheynne. or Comanche. The cabinet card cimes from the Granbo studio in Scranto, Pennstlvania. This ws of course far removd from the Plains. We wonder if studios did not sell inteesying images for scrapbookers.

We are not entirely sure about differences as to how Native American boys and girls dressed. This of course varied from tribe to tribe. Generally speaking girls wore dress and skirts outfits like their mothers. Leggings wre also worn in some tribs, but we are not yet sure how common this was. The length, design, decoration, and material for these skirts and dresses varied from tribe to tribe. Tribes differed as to whether women covered their breasts which was also a sesonal matter, especially in the North. . Shirt-like governments were optional and were often treated rather like coats. We also notice tunics or mantles in public as well as one-piece dresses. Cheyenne women, for example, wore buckskin dresses. Boys wore loin cloths or breechcloths. These were long rectangular piece of hide or cloth tucked over a belt. This in part reflected weaving technology. Rectangular weaving was much easier than more complicated patterns. Men and oldr boys might wear leggings in colder weather. Some tribes wore kilt-like garments, but we believe these were mostly the eastern tribes, but we also see them worn in the southwest. It is interesting that Native American and Europeans arrived at this same convention independently. Of course Europeans when they first arrived in the Americas had not yet developed pants. Younger children did not wear any clothing during the warm summer weather. We believe this wa more common for boys than girls. We are also unsure just how hair styles varied by gender. gain this is complicaed by tribal differences. The coming of Europeans affected dress trends. It introdiced new garments as well as forced many tribes together, promoting exganges among tribes.


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Created: 11:08 PM 7/19/2008
Last updated: 11:08 PM 7/19/2008