Native Americans spanned two continents. From the tip of South America to the equator, through North America, and nearly to the North Pole. Their clothing was as varied as the Inuit fur to the smaller animal skins of the equilateral regions. History books often focus on either the Inuit, or the Plains Indians as the primary examples of clothing among pre-contact civilizations.
In ancient times, clothing was dependent upon materials available in the location, and the weather extremes. The Inuit needed warmer clothing year round, and spent much of their energy on keeping warm, through hunting, clothing, and homes.
Plains tribes had more freedom of choice in their clothing styles as their seasons changed from warm to cold, and back to warm. Their styles were more colorful, and they included seasonal items, much as is common today, though made of the local animal skins and plant fibers that were local to the region.
Many regions developed beautiful woven cloth and blankets. These blankets carried the stories of their tribes and families. They wore their memories about them so they could hear their memories day and night. Clothing was more than functional. It signified to local groups which tribe and family a person belonged to, even when they were far from home.
Modern Native Americans dress like the communities around them, expect in special ceremonies. This allows them to blend in and be successful in the more modern sense. Much culture and identity is lost this way. As well as the constant contact with the stories of their ancestors.
The rich beauty of Native American blankets inspire me in my writing. Particularly in Crosswinds. Although I don’t know the stories, I have created a few of my own colorful creations and wonder what their meanings might be to my ancestors. I feel they mean peace, hope, and plentiful food. A bountiful harvest. Too me at least.