described by First Boy - James Larpentuer Long, Fort Peck
Assiniboine-Sioux, in The Assiniboine: From Accounts of
the Old Ones Told to First Boy (James Larpenteur Long),
edited by Michael Stephen Kennedy , University of Oklahoma
Press, 1961, p 88-92 (originally published as Land of
the Nakoda by the Montana Writer Program in 1942)
skins used for robes were tanned with the hair left on.
However, the light robes for children and those used for
extra bed covers were usually tanned skins of short buffalo
yearlings or calves from which the hair had been removed.
But many people preferred the calves' skins tanned with
the hair left on. Two-year-old buffalo hides made the
best robes when tanned by expert tanners. Unfortunately,
all women were not good tan-ners just as all men were
not good hunters.
their day clothing, the early Assiniboines used antelope,
deer, elk, and moose skins, from which the hair was removed
before tanning. Antelope skins were the lightest in weight;
moose, the heaviest. The tanned skins of these animals
were always known as buckskin.
early people dressed simply. Men wore headgear made of
skins, which were sometimes decorated with feathers or
strips of skins from small animals. They wore three-quarter-length
coats which also served as shirts. Their leggings were
each held up by a single strap, one end fastened on the
outside and the other wrapped around the belt or tucked
under it. Robes were worn with the hair against the body
both to give additional warmth and to show the decorations
on the smooth side of the skin. Before beads came in with
the Hudson's Bay traders and for a long time after, decorations
were done in colored quillwork and paints. The clout,
a pair of moccasins, and the robe nearly always completed
the men's dress, except during the most se-vere weather.
men's costumes for ceremonial use were the same in style
as their ordinary clothes, but with more decorations,
for which quills, feathers, hair, and fur were used. Some
of the medicine men made their personal headgear in the
likeness of something they had seen in a dream or vision.
dresses were in one piece, cut full, and worn with a belt.
Leggings, held up by garters and tied just below the knees,
were worn. Their moccasins were made with high tops. Robes
that ordinarily covered the head were used. A kind of
hood and long fur mittens were worn in cold weather.
buckskin dresses worn by women at dances were elab-orately
decorated. The cut was always the same, but the designs
were different. Porcupine quillwork in many colors was
the principal ornament. The bottoms were either fringed
or trimmed with deer-hoof shells. Sleeves were fringed
to the elbow. The length of the fringe determined the
value of a dress, with extra -long fringe increasing the
value considerably. Dresses trimmed with elk's teeth were
rare and valuable. With much pride, women told of the
number of such dresses they had owned during their lifetime.
wore clothes very much like those of their parents. During
social gatherings, they, too, wore their decorated suits
and dresses made from deer skins.
the winter and spring, everyone wore moccasins with soles
and uppers made from the tops of old lodges. Of course,
such hide had been smoked when used on the lodge. Footwear
made from it was not waterproof, but it never became hard
or cracked from continuous use during the wet season like
other leather. The moccasins were cut extra large in order
to fit over the heavy coverings used on the feet, for
during the cold season, buffalo hair was matted into pads
of different thicknesses which the Assiniboines wrapped
around their feet. Moccasins worn in warm weather were
close-fitted and soled with stiff, dry hides.
moccasins were also made with high tops to protect the
ankles. Since they were made only for service, they were
not decorated in any way. The men put many applications
of grease on the soles to make them waterproof.
and boys wore low-cut moccasins during the summer. Sometimes
they were only partly decorated. Other times decor-ations
covered the whole top and ran back to the heels. Women's
and girls' moccasins, although always made with high tops,
were decorated in the same manner.
parted their hair in the middle and wore it in two braids,
which either hung down in front or were tied together
in tire hack by the ends. Sometimes the ends were tied
at the back of the neck so that the braids formed loops
and hung over each shoulder in front.
old women painted their entire faces. A thin grease was
first smeared over the face, and then vermilion paint
was put on over it. Young women merely painted their cheeks.
The paint served two purposes, to improve their looks
and to guard against sunburn.
among the northern bands tattooed their chins in stripes
which ran from the corners of the mouth downward, with
two or three vertical stripes directly below the lips.
A few of the women tattooed dots on their foreheads which
were from one-eighth to one-quarter of an inch in diameter
and were done by men skilled at tattooing. The large quills
from the tails of the porcupines were used to prick the
skin, and charcoal was rubbed into the spot. After they
healed over, the spots were a dark, bluish color.
wore their hair long in back and unbraided. The fore-lock
was cut short and either hung to the brow or curled up.
White clay was sometimes smeared on the hair to keep it
they were going to be out and exposed to the weather for
a considerable time, men painted their faces and their
hands up to the wrists with vermilion. At home in camp,
they did not always paint themselves.
jewelry, young men wore armbands made of skin from the
deer's ankle, with the hair and two "buttons"
left on. Old wren wore earrings of twisted sinew, sometimes
decorated with shells or ornaments which they made themselves
and patterned after designs seen in dreams or visions.
As a rule these designs were never copied. They also wore
necklaces fitted snugly around the throat.
the ornaments worn by women were garters with long quill-covered
strings and shell tassels that hung to the ground.
variety of ornaments as a whole was not large or rich
in colors until after the white traders brought beads,
imported shells, metals, and many other things to the