Traditional Indian regalia is not like the costumes you see in stores. Traditional Native American costumes were worn for special festivals, powwows and dances. Each tribe and region had their own distinct styles that differentiated their members from those of other tribes and regions. Tribes from New England, for example, frequently used porcupine quills, wampum belts, and copper ornaments in their costumes. The Seminole of Florida wore clothing that featured brightly-colored fabric.
- The National Archives contains photos of Indian costumes.
- Florida Institute of Technology describes Native American Culture and Art with a focus on regalia.
- Native American Indian Resources offers a thorough description of Native American textiles and clothing.
- Native Tech describes the many uses of Native American clothing and regalia.
Some pieces of regalia were set aside to be worn only for special occasions. These pieces may have been smudged, or sacredly purified. Regalia was meant to be worn by one specific person because other people could spiritually contaminate it.
Some examples of specific Indian costumes are the buckskin war shirts worn by Plains Indians warriors, and jingle dresses, which were worn by women who performed special ceremonial dances. Chiefs and war chiefs wore bonnets made from eagle feathers and trimmed in white ermine. Chokers were worn around the neck to protect the neck from an enemy's attack. These chokers were usually made with bones and sinu, the back leg tendons of buffalo, which was dried and used as thread.
Today native peoples wear mostly modern clothing but will wear traditional regalia to special events, like powwows or ceremonies. They see regalia as a connection to their old ways and ancestors. NativeAmericanTrade.com offers custom-made traditional Indian costumes.
You can also create your own Indian costumes for yourself or your children. Watch step-by-step instructions on how to create your own Native American costume on Canupnet. There are many artists who sell custom-made costumes and moccasins.