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WELCOME TO HERITAGE CONSULTING NORTHWEST PLAINS COSTUMING*

Copyright 1978 J. Fromhold

J. Fromhold is the Founder and Head of the Cultural Awareness Through Native Arts And Crafts (CATNAC) Program (aka. Native Cultural Program), at the Alberta Vocational Center (A.V.C. College) at Lac La Biche. This program and the sister program at A.V.C. Grouard were the first Community Native Cultural Programs in Alberta.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

COSTUMING PERIODS 1. Colonial 1600-1840 2. Courier des Bois 1620-1750 3. Frontier 1740-1840 4. Canadian 1750-1898 5. Northern 1800-1940 6. Plainsmen/Mountainmen 1810-1860 A. BLACKFOOT B. MOUNTAIN CREE AND ASSINIBOIN C. CROW AND SHOSHONE D. ARAPAHO AND CHEYENNE E. KIOWA F. OMAHA, OSAGE, PONCA, OTO, KAWSA H. PAWNEE I. SIOUX, MANDAN-HIDATSA, ARICARA, ASSINIBOIN J. PLAINS OJIBWA, EASTERN SIOUX K. PLAINS CREE 7. Tex-Mex 1820-1890 LEGGING STYLES A. Traditional B. Contemporary C. Bat Wing D. Crow Panel E. Mountain People F. Tab G. Fringed H. Chippewa-Cree I. Ojibwa J. Woodlands Cloth K. Front Seam L. Belted Front Seam M. Woodlands N. Tube O. Belted Tube P. Half Leggings Q. Metis SHIRT AND COAT STYLES A. Poncho Shirt B. Old Style Plains C. 1860's N.W. Plains D. Tailored E. Northern F. Drop Sleeved G. Slit Collar H. Bib I. Late Plains J. Far North K. Frock Coat, Commercial L. Frock Coat, Cree M. Frock Coat, Southeast N. Hunting Shirt O. Deerskin P. Poncho/Serape Q. Vest DRESS STYLES
COSTUMING PERIODS To the Costume researcher, Modeler and Black Powder enthusiast (or RED POWER enthusiast) interested in Aboriginal/Fur Trade/Frontier period costuming, there is a wide range of styling available. These can be broken down into seven regions with their own traditions and continuety. These regions are: 1. Colonial 1600-1840 2. Courier des Bois 1620-1750 3. Frontier 1740-1840 4. Canadian 1750-1898 5. Northern 1800-1940 6. Plainsmen/Mountainmen 1810-1860 A. BLACKFOOT B. MOUNTAIN CREE AND ASSINIBOIN C. CROW AND SHOSHONE D. ARAPAHO AND CHEYENNE E. KIOWA F. OMAHA, OSAGE, PONCA, OTO, KAWSA H. PAWNEE I. SIOUX, MANDAN-HIDATSA, ARICARA, ASSINIBOIN J. PLAINS OJIBWA, EASTERN SIOUX K. PLAINS CREE 7. Tex-Mex 1820-1890 COSTUMING PERIODS 1) COLONIAL (1600-1840) Dress is essentially European period costume in styling, with some frontier attributes. In broad terms, European clothing at this time was princi- pally wool outerwear with linen shirts and dress- es; colors tended towards natural colors. For the wealthier classes lace ornamentation was common and linen and cotton replaced the wool and linen noted above. While some communi- ties (e.g. Pilgrim) frowned on colored clothing, in other communites colored clothing was available but not common or everyday wear except among the wealthier classes. Pants as a rule consisted of hose and breeches. Male hats tended to be broad-brimmed in brown, black and, occasionally, grey. 2) COURIER DES BOIS (1620-1750) The Courier de Bois were essentially refugees from the French Colony (variously known as New France, Canada, or Quebec) who had "gone Indian". Many of these men had been convicts in France, impressed into being 'serfs' in New France. Being a Serf essentially meant that they were indentured servants - one step above being a slave - who belonged to designated estates. Basically they were condemned to a life as a peasant labourer with little hope of ever becoming a freeman, let alone even a peasant landowner. To make their situation worse, there were virtually no French women in the colony. To escape their fate, the young men chose to risk the hardships of the wilderness in search of freedom and female company. This was really, really frowned on by the authorities, and, if captured, these men were severely punished. Nontheless, in one year alone it is recorded that 800 (3/4 of the colony's menfolk) fled to the bush. Others managed to get a legitimate pass as canomen (Voyageurs) with one or another of the legitimate trading concerns. Most of these maintained a home family and cottage in Quebec (mainly in the Montreal area). Others came to settle in the new settlements at Detroit, Sault St. Marie/Michilimakinac. Among the Voyagerus were group known as the Hivernants - "Winterers". The Hivernants were those who's trading journeys had taken them far enough west to make it impossible to return home that same year, making the journey back only the following year. These men often maintained a family back home, and another family out on the frontier. Among these Courier Des Bois were certain noblemen who headed up the trading ventures or who had themselves more-or-less taken up life on the frontier. These men often had substantial estates and serfs) back in New France. These included persons such as explorer of the Great Lakes Jean Nicolette, Sieur de La Verendrey who pushed the frontier west into western Saskatchewan (and who's sons were the first to see the Rocky Mountains), Joseph Boucher who pushed the frontier to the Rocky Mountains, and Sieur Etienne Morin who pushed beyond the Rocky Mountains. Stationed at these settlements as far west as Sault St. Marie were also French soldiers. These Courier des Bois all adopted much of the Woodlands Indians style of dress to some degree, although ornamentation of these outfits was poorly developed. As a rule these men were fond of colorful dress. Most colorful of this type of outfit were the cloth adaptations of native costuming. While clothing remained much the same during this period as for the general colonial period, during this time cotton print cloth came into usage, and this became popular among these voyageurs. Ruffed shirts were most commonly seen among the voyagerus. Moccasins increasingly became the footwear of choice (being more comfortable in a canoe and easier to replace - especially by the Hivernants - than shoes. The French nobility of this time period, the French settlers, and the military continued to maintain a very European style of dress. 3) FRONTIER (1740-1840) This is generally the English (including Dutch/German settlements) version of the Courier de Bois, although the New England settlers more commonly went against the Indians rather than going Indian. The Frontier style is characterized by leather leggings ("overalls"), fringed hunting shirts, moccasins, tricorn hats and "Coonskin" caps. Dress was generally unornamentd (and colorless - these guys after all came from a fundamentalist Protestant background). As this was the time of the "French and Indian Wars" and "War of Independence", a wide variety of miltary dress is possible, as well as mixed military and Frontier dress. 4) CANADIAN (1750-1898) This period starts with the Conquest of New France by the English. Many of the Voyageurs and Courier des Bois, as well as their Metis ('Halfbreed') sons withdrew from the west to help fight the British. Others remained in the west and became absorbed by the native population. After the conquest, the Canadian period is the logical continuation of the Courier des Bois period. It is the continued westward expansion of the Courier de Bois period, but now under the direction of the English - or more accurately, under Scottish leadership. This region and period has the largest potential for a large variety of clothing styles. Some of the basic styles are: A. VOYAGEUR (1750-1830) of French, Indian, assorted European, and mixed blood origins. Generally dressed in moccasins, coarse wool pants or leather leggings, colorful shirt, hat, touque or headband/headscarf, pipe bags and items of fancy. Most of the Voyageurs were already part Indian (Metis), often of Ojibway/ Ottawa/Chippewa/Nipissing or Iroquois background. Many of the voyageurs went Indian for part of the year when not en route for the trading houses. B. ENGAGE (1750-1870) Employees of the trading houses, usually very similar in origin to the Voyagerus, but often with heavy Indian or mixed blood origin. Employed as hunters, interpreters, trappers, guies, as well as voyageurs. Dress ranged from very Indian (Plains and Woods Cree, Ojibway/Chippewa) through Metis to very Eruopean, although moccasions were almost always a part of the costuming. C. GAELIC (1770-1870) employees of the Hudson's Bay Company tended to retain their own customs and styles, only adopting Indian styles wen necessary, although moccasins became common apparel. Dress consisted of wool socks or hose, knee-length breeches, shoes, cotton shirt (usually white or striped), vest and jacket or coat. Tartan was not yet a Scottish national trait and Kilts had not yet been invented. As a group they left little or no cultural impact in the west. Few of the rank and file fur trade employees chose to recognize their local family and progeny and, as a rule abandoned them. D. TRADERS (1750-1870) and clerks generally were of Scottish extration and were the nobility of the Indian country. Their position was equivalent to that of a Chief or Lord of his domain, and often acted the part. Even a relatively junior master of a trading post ruled a larger demense than any Scottish Laird. Dress was in accord, and consisted of shoes, wool socks, breeches, ruffled shirt with lace at the wrists and collar, vest, frock coat with braid, tricorn hat and, usually, a sword (Hanger) as a sidearm. On formal occasions a powdered with with queue might be worn. E. EASTERN METIS (1800-1870). By 1750 the Metis people had already established two independent settlements or colonies in the Red River basin (a third on the Saskatchewan River had failed with the collapse of the French regime. On retirement from service with the trading companies many voyagerus and engages retired to the Red River. With the amalgamation of the Hudson's Bay Company and North West Companies in 1822 most of their Metis employees, offering them and their families free transportation to the Red River settlement. A large portion of them took up the offer. At Red River these Metis largely copied (or originated ?) Ojibwa floral styling in beadwork and in dress, which 'flowered' after the introduction of the smaller (5/o and 6/o) Seed Beads in the 1860's. Favourite colors in cloth were dark blue/black. By 1870 a wide range of styles existed, including the Plainsman style of dress, the Cree-Ojibway styles and the Woodlands styles. F. WESTERN METIS (1830-1885) originally consisted of voyagerus, engages and Metis retired from service and who had chosen not to relocated to Red River. The largest community gravitated to western Alberta. By and large, the western Alberta community maintained a continuous coming and going with their kinsmen living at Red River and in the Minnesota settlements. Around 1870 they began to be joined by refugees from the Red River settlements. Clothing styles were more varied and colorful than at Red River, with beadwork being a lighter woodlands floral styling, as well as Plainsmen styling. Common colors are dark blue and red, with white, red or sky blue winter capotes. European clothing was common among the Cree, Assiniboin and Metis of the region especially on a seasonal basis. It was customary to purchase (or sew) a complete set of European clothing for the family during the annual visit to the trading post. As these clothes wore out during the year they would be replaced with hide and fur garments. Like their Nehiyaw-Pwat (Cree/Nakoda/Soto) kin, because of cultural beliefs the Metis were certain to have around at least some minor clothing item of red cloth at least for ceremonial wear. G. INDIAN: Indian Costuming throughout this period varied considerably by tribe and time period, and is too complex to go into here. One of the intersting and common aspects was the practice of Dressing the Chiefs by the trading concers (basically the French concern, Hudson's Bay Company, North West Company, XY Company and, eventually, the American Fur Company). This consisted of gifting the "Trading Chiefs" (those who led in the larger parties to trade) with a complete European military style uniform from head to foot, usually of an ornate "officer" style. Along with this the Chief would also receive a National or Company flag. As a rule each firm had it's own color, the HBCo giving out Red uniform coats, the AFC giving out green uniform coats. 5) NORTHERN (1800-1940) This is the northern extension of the fur trade. Local stylings are of the Northern Woodland variation, ornamentation originally being of quillwork and later of floral work in several styles. Voyageurs and Metis introduced the well-kown moosehide jacket to the area and largely maintained this as their preferred style. 6) PLAINSMEN/MOUNTAINMEN (1810-1860) These were based on the local tribal variations of the Plains Indian. These variations can basically be broken down into: A. BLACKFOOT B. MOUNTAIN CREE AND ASSINIBOIN C. CROW AND SHOSHONE D. ARAPAHO AND CHEYENNE E. KIOWA F. OMAHA, OSAGE, PONCA, OTO, KAWSA H. PAWNEE I. SIOUX, MANDAN-HIDATSA, ARICARA, ASSINIBOIN J. PLAINS OJIBWA, EASTERN SIOUX K. PLAINS CREE A considerable amount of intertribal stylsitic mixture was common to these men, although on particular style tended to dominate because of affiliations or marriage. Occasional military clothes or pieces might be cound in assemblage, including the rare British red coat. 7) TEX-MEX (1820-1890) Similar to the Plainsmen, but strong Mexican influence in dress and accroutments, often caried out in leather clothing. This ifluence was common as far north as Kamloops (Britsh Columbia). One of the traders in the Edmonton area had grown up in Luisiana, and normally "dressed Mexican". Occasionally travelers from the south could be found with such influences and for some time items of Spanish origins were to be found among the Blackfoot. Cree and Metis families from the Edmonton area had family ties into Colorado and California and Blackfoot friendship and kinship ties extended south as far as the Commanche and Pueblos. CHOOSING AN OUTFIT Choosing an outfit is a personal matter. However, it might be kept in mind that the Canadian and Plainsmen regions offer the best scope of expression. In addition, a time period fo around 1840-1860 is suggested, as this was a period of greatest variety, combining old and new styles and techniques. Seed beads were introduced in 1840, replacing quillwork that was used on costuming up to this time, and this would permit use of beadwork on older style clothing. It is also recommended that the enthusiast begin with the simple basics of costuming, adding to it as inspiration or finances direct. Costuming details vary considerable between tribes and regions, not only in beadwork, but also in color preferences. When ordering always state the tribal affiliation intended. A word of caution. Know what you are doing. Don't embaras yourself by sporting an inapproprate outfit. One acquaintance - a 400 pound fellow 'Indian' of Scottish background habitually shows up at Pow- wows in a clan kilt, under the impression that a) he looks cool (he looks absurd) b) that it accurately represents his historic ancestry. In fact, kilts were a very late Scottish innovation and had not made it into the west until well after the reservation period. In 1978 our family were the first to re-introduce Traditional costumes on the Pow-wow and ceremonial circuit. Subsequently similar 'traditional outfits' have become DE RIGEUR, even though most wearers today know little about the traditional style and origins. Today 'traditional' outfits include the the impecably tailored "Chiefs" made-for-tourism shows outfits, which have little to do with the cultural history of the Northwest. They were originally of Sioux origins which were adopted in the 'Pan-Indian' movement of the 1920's. Interesting "Traditiional" stories have even been made up to explain some of the stylistic conventions used in various costumes. Today even the Pow-Wow Fancy-Dance costume has become a Traditional Indian costume. Dating all the way bay to the 1950's.
LEGGINGS LEGGING STYLES A. Traditional B. Contemporary C. Bat Wing D. Crow Panel E. Mountain People F. Tab G. Fringed H. Chippewa-Cree I. Ojibwa J. Woodlands Cloth K. Front Seam L. Belted Front Seam M. Woodlands N. Tube O. Belted Tube P. Half Leggings Q. Metis Colors: Leggings come in a variety of materials and colors and hide, in white (various shades), tan, brown, black Fastening: Leggings can be, and were, assembled in a variety of ways. Please specify and add this to the cost of materials. Tie Tabs 5.00 Laced 15.00 Hand Sewn 20.00 Machine Sewn 5.00 Fitting: To have legs fit, measure (a) the inseam of the leg (b) the outside of the leg to the waist (c) distance around thighs Binding: Edges will be bound with felt, stroud, satin or gross grain ribbon in the above colors if requested. Please add $10.00 STYLE A - TRADITIONAL CUT For the Central, Northern and some Southern Plains tribes. Available in: hide, plain blanket cloth, white Hudson's Bay blanket, U.S. Army blanket, Stroud, double napped cloth. Price for stroud, blanket cloth, commerical tanned hide and H.B. Co. blankets. Other cloth is cheaper and smoked hide is x3. STYLE B - CONTEMPORARY CUT This is the same as above, but tailored for a full flap with belt loops or ties. STYLE C - BAT WING As in Style B, but with extra full flaps. STYLE D - CROW PANEL For Crow, Shoshone, Kutenai, Flathead, Blackfoot, Atsina and sometimes Nehiyaw-Pwat (Cree/ Assiniboin/Soto). Can be obtained in styles A, B, C. Cloth only. Cloth panel in contrasting color, beadwork not included. Can be fringed. Most common colors red, dk. blue and ordinary blanket cloth. STYLE E - MOUNTAIN PEOPLE For YE XA YA BINE (Mountain People) and CHAN TONGA (Woods) Assiniboin, ASINI WACHI WI INIWAK (Mountain People) and PAKISIMOTA WI INIWAK (West People) Nehiyaw-Pwat. Can be obtained in styles A, B, C. Cloth only. Cloth panel in contrasting color. Can be fringed. Also commonly found in brown, green, white. STYLE F - TAB Early Northern Plains style for Assiniboin, Blackfoot, Crow, Mandan, Hidatsa. Also suitable for Kiowa and Comanche. In hide only. STYLE G - FRINGED Tailored fringed leggings in Style A, B. Can also be obtained in cloth with hide fringe. Fringes about 3-5". STYLE H - CHIPPEWA-CREE For Woods Cree and western Ojibway and Plains Cree and Ojibwa (Bungi & Soto) to 1850, and also for early Assiniboin. Decorated with ribbonwork, beads not included. Leggings often in contrasting colors. Available in styles A, B. Machine sewn, handmade on request. STYLE I - OJIBWA For the Great Lakes region and some western Free Trapper migrants. Available in Styles A, B. Available in black or red velveteen. Decorated with ribbonwork. Also available in stroud or napped cloth. Lined with calico prints on request. STYLE J - WOODLANDS CLOTH As style I, but with integral tailored belt loop. STYLE K - FRONT SEAM Suitable for Iroquois, Western Iroquois Free Trapper migrants, Pawnee and some Plains Cree. In cloth or hide. Iroquois style is in black or red, with front slash. Pawnee is in hide only. STYLE L - As style K but with tailored belt loops as in Style H. STYLE M - WOODLANDS Close fitting with short fringe. See also style G. STYLE N - TUBE A basic legging for adding fringe, hair, ermine or other decoration. Suitable for a wide range of styles. STYLE O - BELTED TUBE As style N, but with tailored belt loops. STYLE P - HALF LEGGINGS Used by Metis Plainsmen and Mountainmen and worn over pants below the knees. Side ties and drawstring. STYLE Q - METIS As style H in pattern style A, B or J. In patterned wool or cotton similar to regular clothing styles. A style of the late 1800's. Often they were simply the cut-off and recycled legs from worn out trousers.
SHIRTS AND COATS
SHIRT STYLES A. Poncho Shirt B. Old Style Plains C. 1860's N.W. Plains D. Tailored E. Northern F. Drop Sleeved G. Slit Collar H. Bib I. Late Plains J. Far North K. Frock Coat, Commercial L. Frock Coat, Cree M. Frock Coat, Southeast N. Hunting Shirt O. Deerskin P. Poncho/Serape Q. Vest STYLE A - PONCHO SHIRT Early style sleeveless poncho shirt. In hide only. Common to Eastern Woodlands tribes. STYLE B - OLD STYLE PLAINS Early style large hide shirt (elkhide size) extending below the knees. Minimum tailoring of natural hide. Lower sleeves only closed. Shirt sides open. In hide only. STYLE C - 1860'S N.W. PLAINS 1860's style N.W. Plains shirt. As style B but shorter (deerskin size). Minimal tailoring. In hide only. STYLE D - TAILORED Late style tailored and fringed Northern Plains shirt. Sides open. In hide only. Triangular or rectangular bib. Bib of hide or cloth. STYLE E - NORTHERN Fully tailored northern long shirt. Also used before 1850 by the Plains Cree. Hide or cloth. STYLE F - DROP SLEEVED Drop- sleeved cloth shirt with tailored, oval or V-neck collar. Sleeve and body of same or different colors. Cloth or hide. Sides sewn. STYLE G - SLIT COLLAR As Style F, above, but with open slit collar. STYLE H - BIB As Style F, above, but with square or triangular bib. STYLE I - LATE PLAINS Late style Plains shirt with tailored sleeves and body. With bib. Hide or cloth. STYLE J - FAR NORTH Far North- ern Tailored shirt with front and/or rear 'tail'. Hide or cloth. STYLE K - FROCK COAT, COMMERCIAL Frock Coat style, popular in the Plains and Eastern Woodlands for 300 years with Indian and white alike in a variety of styles and colors. Very typical of the Metis, ASINI WACHI WI INIWAK and PAKISIMOTAT WI INIWAK Nehiyaw-Pwat, Western Iroquois migrants and North Flathead/Kootenay. STYLE L - FROCK COAT, CREE Frock coat, Cree style, with seams only on side. Usually done in hide. STYLE M - FROCK COAT, SOUTHEAST Frock Coat, South- east style, with attatched cape. Cherokee, Choctaw, Chikasaw, Miami. Style carried over to Oklahoma Territory and there adopted by various other peoples such as Lene Lenape (Delaware), Omaha, Caddo. STYLE N - HUNTING SHIRT Woodlands Hunting Shirt from the Great Lakes-Ohio area. Usually with double overlapped attatched cape. Can be fringed. In hide or cloth, but hide more common. STYLE O - DEERSKIN As Style C but tailored to achieve the effect. In hide only. Hand or machine sewn. STYLE P - PONCHO/SERAPE Commonly in use in the Southwest in the form of the SERAPE among the Mission, California and Pima, Modoc and other such tribes. Frequently used by the Cree in the form of a simple cloth cover - usually of an earth color - with a collar opening and tie tabs on the side and often ribbon-bound on edges. Occasionally bead decorated, occasional in simple animal effigy design, sometimes with floral work. Often incorporated a beaded or quilled 'targe' on front and back. STYLE Q - VEST Various kinds of vests were used throughout the north american interior, from vests from dress suits through to leather and fur vests. Cloth vests were occasionally fully beaded on the front. Commercial vests usually spot decorated. Cloth vests, especially stroud vests, often done in contrasting color sections and with contrasting colored fringed bands.
DRESSES
STYLE A - TWO PIECE, UNTAILORED The oldest known traditional style of women's dresses is the two-piecestyle made of two complete elk or deer hides or similar, with minimum tailoring. The hides are sewn or laced at the shoulder and at the sides leaving an opening for the arms. The sleeves are left un- sewn on the bottom, leaving them hanging as a flap over the shoulders and upper arms. Contrary to popular belief, not all clothing was ornamented. Like any other people, you do not go grubbing in the garden in your Sunday best. Unornamented, this was probably the standard working dress for most North American Indian women. STYLE B - JUMPER, HIDE The oldest known Cree style dress was the Jumper, consisting of a dress with shoulder straps and a cape covering the shoulders and arms. Construction was of two tailored hides for the jumper and one or more pieces for the cape. A variation of the cape as the cape being made in the form of two two sleeves joined at the back. Dating to the early 1800's, such dresses lacked extensive beadwork, seed beads still being decades away. More common would have been fringe, basket and Crow beads, quillwork and shells. STYLE C - JUMPER, CLOTH Early on Cree women adopted cloth. Even in Western Canada cloth was introduced as early as 1650 and, no doubt, quickly became a luxury item and status symbol. Initially the preferred cloth was red, but red cloth soon developed a religious significance, and cloth for clothing switched to blue/black in the form of blue stroud or black velvet and satin. The style closely copied the traditional Cree jumper, with cape or blanket/shawl covering. The cape and shawl became the focus of ornamentation, which eventually evolved into the elaborate Cree beaded and netted capes.
* An earlier version of this article was originally published in 1978 under the title BLACK POWDER COSTUMING.
Family Genealogies on file; by tribe Family Genealogies on file; alphabetic

718 - TOM OJO - CANADA 1-403-885-2991
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