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Okanagan First Nations

Clothing


The full dress of the men consisted of moccasins, long leggings with belt, breechcloth or apron with shirt, cap or headband.  The women wore moccasins, short leggings, long dresses with cap or headband and sometimes a belt.  Besides these, there were also robes.  The only time that people went barefoot was when they were around the camps.  The clothes were made of the tanned hides of deer, elk, buffalo, antelope, caribou, and moose.  Sheepskin was never used because it tore too easily.

 

Everyone wore robes when it was cold and they also used blankets for sleeping in.  The common ones were the skins of deer, fawn, buffalo, beaver, marmot, coyote and lynx.  Capes that just fitted the shoulders were also worn by some of the women; these were made from such small animals as mink, marten, weasel, young fawn, flying squirrels, skunk, and marmot.  Some of the capes had necks, which were trimmed with pelts of fox, wolf or otter.  Sometimes both types of robes were worn like the ponchos of the Argentine cowboys.

 

The shirts of the men were usually made from two doeskins that were sewn together with heads at the top.  The sides were either laced or held together with a few stitches.  Breechcloths were made from soft tanned hides.  Sometimes they were drawn under the belt, leaving the ends to hang down like aprons.

 

Old men and boys also wore aprons of dressed skins and furs.  Leggings were made of skin and reached up to the thighs.  They were all fringed, the fringes being longer below the knees, and often decorated with beads and quills.  Garters were usually passed through slits on the outside the leggings so that they could be tightened, while at the same time leaving the fringes loose.

 

vokanagan5Woman in Traditional Dress 
by Sis-hu-lk (Francis Baptiste)
Most of the women’s dresses reached the calf of the leg, while a few nearly reached the ground.  Most had a cape or shoulder, which hung down over the arms and wrists.  All women wore leggings that reached to the knees and were fringed on the outside.

 

Moccasins were made of tanned buckskin on the outside.  The ones that were worn in the summer were pointed and were a good fit.  The winter ones were loosely made so as to give room for heavy footwear.  Sometimes this was pieces of fur; at other times they were padded with dry teased bark and tule.

 

Gloves were never used, but mittens took their place.  Some were quite short while others reached nearly up to the shoulders.  A whole skin of the coyote would be used for one mitten.  On long journeys over water, which would entail much paddling, mittens of lynx were generally used.

 

Caps and headbands were made from the fur of most animals.  Caps were also made from the head skins of birds and animals, the antlers of deer, and horns of antelope, goat and buffalo.  Eagle feather bonnets came into use after the horse had opened the way to the Plains.  Women’s caps were shaped like a fez and were decorated with quills, beads and shells.