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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 9, 2002 - Issue 54


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Regalia - Headwear - Part One

by Lynne A Pennington

Over the next several months I will be starting to do articles on American Indian Regalia. My plans are to do the basic clothing. I wish I could cover every tribe but it would take a book to do every tribe.

When it comes to regalia we want to be as authentic as possible. Due to poor preservation of articles and the limitation in archaeological research sometimes we must rely on paintings, photographs or written text to give us descriptions on what our ancestors wore.

Today when we attend a powwow whether in the east, Midwest, West Coast or other parts of the USA and Canada we see a diversity of regalia styles.

When I thought about where to start for the articles on Regalia I decided to start from the head down. I also decided to start with the men first, do several articles on what you may see them wear then I will do articles on the women.

The first several articles will deal with the headwear worn in each region. Then I will cover shirts, vests, dresses, dance regalia accessories, moccasins, and several other pieces.


While doing my research I noticed that although several tribes are spread all over the USA, many wore the same type of head wear only with a sight difference to some.

In the past several bird feathers were used that are endangered or protected today, the eagle and hawk are two of them. So you will often see imitation forms of these feathers used. Other feathers used are turkey, crane, heron, flamingo, pheasant, quail, woodpecker, drake, swan and magpie as well as other birds. Some were just used for their sturdiness while other were used for color. On some of the feathers small bunches of horsehair was attached to the ends.

There are also certain animal skins that are on the endangered and protected species today that were in abundance in the past. Some of the animal skins used are, buffalo, otter, skunk, muskrat, deer, bear, fox, and beaver as well as other animals. The porcupine guard hair and deer tail are used to make Roaches and Round Hair bustles.

There were headdresses worn only for ceremonies or for special occasions. The Roach was only worn in times of war unlike today you will see them on dancers at powwows. This also was true for the War Bonnet and Horned War Bonnet although they were worn in times of war they were often worn in times of tribal council amongst themselves or with other tribes. We also see them worn in pictures and painting when " The Great White Father" and his soldiers were present to show their position in the tribe.

Over the years some of the head wear was replaced with sombreros and the tall flat brimmed " Indian hat" in some regions.

Below are the lists of some of the head wear you would of and can still seen worn in each region. The ones with the * next to them are also worn in different regions.

In this article I will cover the Northeast and the Southeast. I have placed a list of the tribes you would encounter.

Northeast Headwear
Southeast Headwear
Plains Headwear
In the next article I will cover -The Southwest, Great Basin and Plateau Regions
It took a lot of work to compose these graphics and I did them for your knowledge, however, if you want to use them please email me to ask permission for I have had them copyrighted. They are going to be on a CD I am composing of all the crafts I have covered and will be covering in the future. The CD will be coming out hopefully by the end of the year. A percentage of the price of the CD will be going to Rez-Aide.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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