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Clothing

Most clothing was only worn on special occasions that is illustrated on this Web Site. It is not the traditional wear for everyday use. This is fortunate no, since traditional dress would only be used in parades, dances and other celebrations. Even if I knew such about the everyday styles of the Past, there would be very little use for it today.

The robe was the single most important article of dress in Blackfoot traditions. Even now it is acceptable to go on the dance grounds with only a blanket draped over an arm (for men) or a shawl over the shoulders (for women). Of course, this is with modern clothing underneath, though boys and men often wore nothing but a robe, way back in the Old Days. An old-time robe was usually from the hide of a Buffalo cow, softly tanned, with the hair left on. Out on the trail with nothing but such a robe, a man could wrap himself up in it and lay down for a warm sleep, or drop it off instantly in hot weather or at meeting some emergency. It's said that men in those days often raced into battle naked, after they had dropped their robes.

Summer robes were sometimes made from tanned Elk hides with the hair removed. All kinds of hide robes were often decorated with painted designs or embroidered quillwork. The robes of chiefs were sometimes covered with brilliant Sunbursts of read and yellow Porcupine quills. Warriors sometimes covered their robes with pictographic records of their noted exploits. Holy Men sometimes drew out their sacred visions and symbols. Most commonly, robes were decorated with parallel stripes and borders. Children were given tanned robes of Buffalo calf skins. Often they were sent out naked, to make them tough and to save their clothing.

Beef hides didn't replace Buffalo as robes. Instead, the People turned to wool blankets given out by the government, or obtained in trade. Those with bright designs were preferred, along with the several brands that had stripes, like those offered by the Hudson's Bay Company. Elk hide robes shown in photos of dances as late as the 1920's. They are still a part of the Holy Woman's outfit at times of the Sun Dance ceremonies.

Fringing was the main style of decoration on everyday hide clothing of the past. The hides were often smoked, to make them more durable and water-resistant. Hide clothing made for dress-up wear was not usually smoked, but often heavily decorated beyond fringing. The older styles of clothing tended o follow the natural styles of the hides, while the most modern styles are very tailored in appearance. This makes them look more "neat" but less flowing.

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