Cherokee Clothing - Native American Clothing answers questions

Cherokee clothing

Tsiyu Gansini, Cherokee chief
(late 1700s AD)

July 2016 - Like most people, Cherokee people used their clothing and hairstyles to show that they were Cherokee and different from their neighbors. What made Cherokee men look different from other people living in North America at this time was their haircuts. Cherokee men shaved most of their hair off and just had one lock at the top of their heads.

According to early Spanish explorers, Cherokee people made some of their clothing out of deerskins or the skins of other animals. They wove other clothing out of bark strips or strands of hemp (they didn't spin).

In summer, Cherokee women wore skirts down just below their knees, sometimes made of deerskin or by sewing together smaller rabbit skins, and sometimes woven out of bark strips or hemp. Men wore shorts and long shirts made out of deerskin that came down past the top of their high boots.

Cherokee Men had tall rawhide boots, up above their knees, to protect their feet and legs from thorn bushes when they were hunting. (The Cherokee didn't make leather, either). The boots had fringes cut along their tops.

brown and white feather cloak
Cherokee feather cloak
(Now in Museum of the Cherokee Indian)

Women just wore low moccasins on their feet, because they didn't go into the forest so much. Children generally went barefoot or wore moccasins in cold weather.

When they were working hard, people didn't wear much clothing, just shorts for men and mini-skirts for women.

In the winter, people also wore fur cloaks and long deerskin capes tied around them to keep warm. Sometimes they made fancy cloaks out of feathers sewn together.

Learn by doing: visit a Native reservation
More about Native American clothing
Native clothing after Europeans invaded

Bibliography and further reading about the Cherokee people:

Cherokee history
Cherokee economy
Native Americans home

Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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