Native American Dress

crow indiansNative American clothing has a long, diverse history. Each tribe used similar techniques of manufacture, but that is where the similarities stopped. Tribes dressed distinctively as a claim of their heritage. Great pride was taken in each design. Initially, tribal attire was quite different from region to region.

IndiananimalrelationhipNative American people believe that humans and animals are related and should treat each other with respect and kindness. Animals give themselves to humans for food and clothing.  The hunter thanks them for their sacrifice by using as much of the animal as possible. It is said that to wear an animal skin inside out or in any different way than the animal would “is disrespectful to the animal.”

breechclothleggings

Common items of clothing for men, among the tribes, were breechcloths and leggings. Often the breechcloth is all men would wear. As it got colder, the men would wear leather leggings, for extra warmth, that were attached to their breechcloths. Some tribes wore kilts. Some wore trousers made of furs. The Sioux wore war shirts. In some Tribes, women wore skirts and would also go without a shirt. The Cheyenne preferred a one-piece buckskin dress.

bark clothBark was stripped, dried, and shredded to make fibers which were then used to weave soft, comfortable cloth. The Pomo tribe wore skirts made from redwood bark. The Cherokee used mulberry bark. The Paiute and Washoe shredded the plentiful sagebrush bark. Tribes of the rainy Northwest Coast, such as the Tlingit and the Suquamish, used the bark of the cedar tree.

weaving loomMany tribes used handmade methods of weaving, but natives of the American Southwest were the first group to develop a loom for weaving cloth. In 1200, well before the arrival of the first Europeans, Indians in the Southwest grew cotton and wove it into cloth. They also wove yucca, wool, feathers, and even human hair. Breechclouts, leggings, and skirts were often made of woven fibers.

trousers

Tribes living in colder regions needed thicker clothing, so they wore trousers, jackets, and hooded anoraks. Women also wore leggings under their skirt or tunic. The Iroquois and Pequot chose to accessorize their clothes with fur, claws and shells. Southeast tribes like the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole and the Shawnee of the Plains used feathers and teeth.elktoothdress

In Native cultures, women often wore the same dress for years, so the garment was designed to tell the woman’s story.  Symbols referred to her tribe, marital status, and the hunting prowess of her husband or father.   A dress bedazzled with dozens of elk eyeteeth spoke of the skilled hunters in her family .tanning hides

It takes about 40 hours of hard, physical work to prepare a hide properly.  At first, a single animal hide was folded in half. The two edges were then sewn to create a straight tube dress, which made movement difficult, twohidedressso women in nomadic tribes began making two-hide dresses. Garments were cut to take advantage of the natural shape of the hides.  The tail of the animal was placed at the top of dress, and was a highly desirable neck embellishment.  Later in the nineteenth century it became fashionable to remove the tail from the hide and replace it with intricate beadwork . Two-hide dresses evolved into three-hide dresses, with the third hide folded like a short cape over the two-hide garment.

beadwork2

Dresses were warm and weather appropriate.  They were often additionally adorned with porcupine quills, bits of tin, carved bone, animal sinew, coins, animal teeth, fossilized shells, and the brightly colored glass beads that traders brought from the glass factories in Europe. Thousands of hours would go into the embellishment of Native American wear, often with the entire yoke covered in beads.

In the 1800s, the Cherokee Indians were the first to begin to adopt the culture that the white man brought to them. They began to dress more European, and even adopted many of their farming and building methods.

Mills in England wove wool specifically for trading with Native Americans and by the mid-nineteenth century, dresses made of this “Indian cloth” were common.  The wool was often dyed a vivid scarlet or dark blue, with the un-dyed selvage incorporated in the design to fall at the edge of the garment.  It was also in the 1800s that rows of ribbon, shells or beads were added as another design element.

mukluk

All the tribes had similar styles of footwear, from moccasins to mukluk, although they too were often distinguished by tribe, via cut, beadwork and painted designs.  Native Americans living in the East wore soft-soled moccasins decorated in zoomorphic or flower designs. The designs covered everything except the sides of the moccasins.  The western plains Indians wore hard soled moccasins made from two pieces of leather.  Designs on these moccasins covered the entire top of the moccasin but left the cuffs free of marking.

Once colonization began, tribes intermingled more, and their clothes became more and more alike.   To understand fully the distinctions of each tribe, the years before colonization must be studied.  As Native Americans had continued contact with Europeans and white settlers, they eagerly incorporated new items, such as the glass beads and silver ornaments previously mentioned, into their wardrobes.  As they moved to the reservations, their new circumstances forced them to buy clothing from whites, which drastically changed the way Native Americans dressed.

Kesha-6

To the Native American, imitation is not the highest form of flattery.  Children dressing up as an Indian at Halloween, the Hippies of the sixties wearing fringe, and feathers in their hair, to Woodstock, and the current trend of pop stars to wear a headdress during a grammy performance, is highly offensive and is believed, by the Native American population, to disregard Indian spirituality.

Mountain Men – Myths and Legends

As a small and unique cultural subset of the U.S. population in the early 1800’s, Mountain men distinguished themselves by forging into the wilderness between St. Louis and California. They mapped the rivers and mountains, established relations with Indian populations, saw unimaginable sights, survived uncivilized conditions and experienced incredible adventures.

When the energy of the nation was focused on westward expansion, the Mountain Man was at the forefront of that expansion and consciousness.  Subsequently, who and what they were become distorted until today popular knowledge holds, as truth, multiple misconceptions. It did not help matters that Mountain Men were also masters of spinning tales.  Many an experience was embellished into a larger than life story that made it into the books of American history.

Some of these misconceptions include:

  1. Mountain men always have beards
  2. Mountain men were solitary and loners
  3. Mountain men softened their leather by first chewing it
  4. Mountain men cheated the Indians by trading worthless trinkets for valuable furs
  5. Mountain men were illiterate

What are some myths/legends  you may have heard? Post them on our face book page.

The Naked Truth

Hello All,

We started thinking about Bear Lake as a great place to re-create a mountain man rendezvous. After all, the Bear Lake Valley is the place two of the twenty mountain man rendezvous’s actually occurred (1827-28). In late August, the area is beautiful and full of fun seeking, enthusiastic visitors.

We, as a group, are fast approaching a crossroads in our planning, implementing and executing a successful 2013 Bear Lake Rendezvous. (BLR)

Here is a quick overview.

Things we have:

  • We found a landowner who appreciates the historical and educational elements a rendezvous re-creation would offer as well as celebrating the heritage of the area. He is willing to let us use his land accepting all the wear and tear that comes with holding an event concluding the sacrifice is worth it.
  • We have Kash Johnson, a dedicated mountain man historian with 14 years experience in managing mountain man rendezvous re-creations. His only interest is to share his passion with those willing and interested to learn about the mountain man era.
  • We have the support of the local community who are anxious to see a rendezvous event and embracing the idea.
  • We have local and state media anxious to cover the event because it is in UTAH.
  • We have a tourist based recreational area with over 15,000 people in the area playing and having fun on the scheduled weekend. It is a very focused local market with lots of people with a lot  of money looking for things to do. Translation: Traders have a lot of potential customers ready to spend.

Tasks accomplished

  • Meetings with the landowner, county commissioners, Laketown town council
  • Incorporated as Bear Lake Rendezvous Inc.
  • Applied for and received non-profit status
  • Fire Barrels
  • Land owner agreement
  • Site layout
  • Website www.bearlakerendezvous.com
  • Facebook page
  • Logo created
  • County permit
  • Hooters purchased and refurbished
  • Bank Account
  • Alliances formed with The National Oregon California Trail Center, The American West Heritage Center and Bear River Heritage Area.

Budget

Insurance $850

Port a pots $2000

Dump fees $500

Gate management $500

Office supplies $200

P.O. Box $45

State registration $15

501(c)(3) $400

Water $250

Land lease $300

Web page $100

Advertising $300

Unexpected/emergency funds $1000

Total $6460.00

Now, full disclosure. We have the money to proceed. So this is not a plea for money.

We have most of the ingredients necessary to cook up a great event.   But we have to have the participation of traders and campers to attract a visitor market. As of now we have 11 traders registered. The area will support as many as we want. We need to have 35 traders/campers signed up and committed to attend to provide a marketable product to the visitors.

If we do not have 35 traders/campers signed up/committed by June 20th  we will cancel the 2013 BLR and make plans for the 2014 BLR. All paid registrations will be 100 % refunded.

If we do cancel 2013 we would be interested to find out why there was not enough interest with the traders/campers. Bad dates? Too close to Bridger Rendezvous? Too hot? Think people will not attend? Bad Location?Your input will help us move forward and make changes as necessary for 2014.

Understandably, there is apprehension about a new event. Our number one goal was to produce a quality event for the participants as well as the visitors.  We will pursue this goal and refuse to offer a “bad” event that will denigrate the future of the Bear Lake Rendezvous.

Also,  receiving non-profit status will allow us to attract corporate sponsors who will be willing to contribute to the success of the future rendezvous. We can get into budgets for 2014 and the donation is then tax-deductible.

So anyway, thanks for reading through. It’s up to you. If you have registered, thank you. Please talk to all those that may not have heard. Pass on the info to friends and family. We are excited to proceed, if not this summer, next summer. We can make this a rendezvous to be proud of.

Thanks BLR INC.

BLR Connected

Hello All,

This is the first Bear Lake Rendezvous blog. This is where folks that don’t love, understand or hate Facebook can also find information about the rendezvous and participate in duscussions.

The blogs will also be posted as a link to our Facebook Page.

We also have a Twitter account for those of you who follow that.

Of course there is our website www.bearlakerendezvous.com .

Kash Johnson is the director of the Bear Lake Rendezvous. He brings with him 30 plus years of rendezvous and mountain man experience. He doesn’t just “talk” the life, he “lives” the life. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please contact him:

info@bearlakerendezvous.com

Phone: 801-452-1518

We encourage everyone to take part in the discussion. We need lots of good ideas and comments to mold this event into something we can all be proud of.

Now, finally, please be patient and understand, this is a group effort! Expect the unexpected. Be critical only if you have suggestions to improve. There is a wealth of experience among us, but a lot of this is new to a lot of us. If you have expertise or specialties that you can share and contribute please do. If you have questions please ask.

Our goal is to provide a fun, family friendly event that will offer information to folks eager to learn about an era rich with allure and colorful characters. .