Leggings

In cool weather or rough terrain men and women of nearly every Native American tribe wore leggings to protect their legs. Leggings were snug or loose-fitting tubes of animal hide that covered each leg individually. Men's leggings covered the leg from waist or thigh to ankle. The top of the leggings was tied to a string, belt, or sash wrapped around the waist, and sometimes the leggings were gartered, or tied, at the knee. The leggings resembled crotchless pants and men wore them with breechclouts, or loincloths.

Women's leggings were similarly made of animal skin, but they only covered the leg from the knee to the ankle. Garters or ties at

the knee held women's leggings in place under their long skirts. In the winter the leggings of both men and women were often made with attached feet, or moccasins. Only the peoples of the Arctic did not wear some form of legging, instead wearing a full pair of trousers to protect against the cold.

The most common hide for making leggings was deer, although beaver, buffalo, skunk, and wolf were also used. Northwest tribes even used the skin of salmon. In hotter regions and in the summertime in the north, leggings were made of finely tanned hide. For winter, leggings were made of animal skins with the fur turned toward the leg. The bottoms and edges of leggings were sometimes fringed or decorated with ornaments, such as beadwork, painted designs, or ribbons. Leggings were often striped or designed to signify spirits or war victories. As contact with Europeans became more common in the seventeenth century, Native Americans began to make leggings out of purchased wool cloth. Soon full trousers replaced leggings.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Hofsinde, Robert. Indian Costumes. New York: William Morrow, 1968.

Hungry Wolf, Adolf. Traditional Dress: Knowledge and Methods of Old-Time Clothing. Summertown, TN: Book Publishing Co., 1990.

Paterek, Josephine. Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1994.

: Skirt

^^^hile the most common garment for Native American men was a breechclout, or loincloth, for women it was the skirt. Although Native American women did throw a cloak around their shoulders for warmth, the skirt was often worn without any covering for the upper body. Skirts were commonly knee-length or longer. The simplest skirts were made of grasses tied to a waist string; these were worn mostly by Indian tribes along the coasts of North America. Other styles included a wraparound leather skirt, an apron tied at the back, two aprons tied to cover both the front and the back, and woven and sewn patchwork skirts. Made of leather, grasses, feathers, bark, and later, woven cotton or other fabric, skirts were embellished with fringe, embroidery, beadwork, tassels, and other ornaments. As Native Americans had more contact with Europeans, their skirt styles changed to mimic the flowing European styles, and many women began wearing leather or cloth dresses that covered their breasts. Before long, purchased fabric skirts replaced handmade leather or woven skirts for many.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Hofsinde, Robert. Indian Costumes. New York: William Morrow, 1968.

Hungry Wolf, Adolf. Traditional Dress: Knowledge and Methods of Old-Time Clothing. Summertown, TN: Book Publishing Co., 1990.

Paterek, Josephine. Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume. Santa

Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1994.

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  • carlo manna
    Which tribe wore leggings to protect thier legs?
    5 years ago

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