Apache Indian clothing is a term used to describe the items worn by this tribe of Native Americans. Throughout history the clothing changed as the tribe changed and was even influenced by the settlers who arrived in the Southwest during the 1800s.Today authentic Apache Indian clothing is hard to find because of its age.
The Apache Indians were a tribe of people living in the American Southwest and explorers first noted the tribe during the mid-16th century. This group of nomads needed clothing that moved as freely as they did, which meant loose-fitting and flowing. The women wore dresses, while the men wore short pants or loin cloths. The clothing was adapted over the years to fit their needs and the climate where they were living.
Historians who speak of traditional Apache Indian clothing generally refer to the 19th century, although some include clothing made during the early part of the 20th century. This was when the Apache tribe had their highest population and were settled in the Southwest. Towards the end of the 19th century the descendants began moving away and clothing was changed to fit with the type worn by the white men settling in the area.
Apache Indian clothing can be readily identified by the use of tanned buckskin from deer. The material was used to create moccasins, pants and even poncho-type clothing. Women’s clothing had minimal decoration such as embroidery, porcupine quills and a lot of fringe. The clothing was also very loose and free-flowing because it was designed for easy movement. Many of the pieces were also very light- colored because it deflected the heat from the sun.
Early Apache Indian clothing was made from what was readily available, usually deer hide. The hide was used to make moccasins, headbands and pants. The clothing was then decorated with porcupine quills, bird feathers and dyed with the juice from berries. As the tribes moved, they gained access to cloth, which changed the clothing. The cloth was used to make dresses or skirts for the women and vests for the men of the tribe.
The Apache Indians were a tribe found primarily in the American Southwest. The tribe primarily remained in the area around Arizona and New Mexico, although at times they ventured into parts of Mexico. Even today this area is where many of the descendants of the Native Americans live today. This is where authentic Apache clothing and accessories such as jewelry can be found as there are some tradesmen still making the pieces.
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Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.