Native American History - Choctaw Dress

Choctaw Beaded Sash by Public Domain and Wikimedia Commons

Choctaw Beaded Sash

Handmade Traditional 3 Row Buffalo Bone Hairpipe
Tribal Choker Necklace and Bracelet Set

Deluxe Loose Fan Kit Fancy dance, PowWow Regalia

Choctaw Seal | XL Heathered Royal T-Shirt

Choctaw Ethnic and Traditional Clothing

As Native Americans were restricted to materials at hand, they used many common items in order to dress themselves. According to Choctaw Dress/Choctaw Nation, animal hides were the most common fabric for the tribe to work with.

After tanning the hides with deer brains to soften and cure them, the women would fashion all sorts of attire. Blouses and skirts were common. The men wore breeches and moccasins made from animal hides.

Decorations were simple. Jewelry and beads came from the land and shores. Sinew from the animals was used to string simple wooden beads together. Sometimes the beads and shells were sewn directly into the fabric, especially after the settlers came and cotton fabric became available.

Eventually, Choctaw dress evolved into a pattern to represent the tribe. Regalia, used during powwows is distinctive for each tribe. The patterns of Native American dress usually symbolize nature. The Choctaws adopted the diamond pattern as their own.

Colors Preferred for Choctaw Dress

  • Green
  • Red
  • Blue
  • Purple
  • Other bright solid color

Trim should contrast the solid color of the dress.

Patterns of Choctaw Dress

A hand made Choctaw dress is still desired today. There is no commercial pattern available, but directions are available at the Choctaw Nation site.

Typically, the dress has long sleeves, a long flowing ruffled skirt, a full blouse with yoke and decorated with the diamond pattern trim. The dress is complimented with a fully decorated apron. Shawls are used by Native American women that are very complex and beautiful. There is even a specific dance performed at powwows and other ceremonies that feature the shawls movement and style.

The diamond pattern originated with the Mississippi Choctaws and has been carried down through the generations. It is symbolic of the diamond back rattlesnake while in the full diamond pattern. Used as a half pattern (resembling mountain peaks), the pattern represents the mother mound where the Choctaws first took up residence in Mississippi. The mound is called Nanih Waiya.

Contemporary Hand Made Choctaw Dress and Fancy Powwow Dresses

Contemporary Hand Made Choctaw Dress by Just Duckee Originals, used with permission Beautiful Native American dress and powwow regalia by Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Pow Wow Regalia

Native Americans of today celebrate their heritage by attending powwows. The powwow is simply a gathering of the tribes. At any powwow, one will see fancy as well as plain styles, but fancy is today's accepted get up. Regalia is the accepted name for the styles of dresses and outfits. They are not 'costumes'.

To the right is a powwow dance called a Jingle Dance. Small bells and rattlers are sewn into shawls, aprons or directly onto the dress. The dancers use the beat of the drum circles to keep time. Included in the drum circle is a singer. The singer is usually chanting a nonsense tune. Very few Native American songs have actual words.

Regalia can be very traditional with beads, feathers, fringes and patterns. It can also be very fancy indeed. Florescent colors seem to be popular of late. Fancy dancers are judged on the elaborate regalia they wear as well as the style of their dance.

Native American Accessories

Moccasins are the traditional footwear of Native Americans. They were made of animal skins which were softened by family recipes. The softest suede was used for footwear. Both men and women wore moccasins, but at home they generally go barefoot.

Moccasins can be plain or fancy. The pattern for making leather moccasins is easily available at any craft shop or leather shop. Doing the bead work takes years to learn properly. The way the beads are attached is proprietary information in many Native American tribes.

Pouches, sashes and belts are made in much the same way as moccasins. Simple or fancy, a good set of these can set you back a pretty penny.

The jewelry of Native Americans is certainly complex and somewhat gaudy. Choctaws used many wooden beads and plant seeds strung together to make necklaces and adornments. The Navajo are famous for their silver and turquoise work. Other tribes use natural gems or polished rocks to fashion jewelry.

Beaded Native American Pouch and Location of the Choctaw Nation

Choctaw beaded pouch - Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons Location of the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma - screen shot

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