style of dress that the Saulteaux men used was a unique
mix of both their newfound prairie identity and their
old woodland dress. This unique mix of influence made
the Saulteaux man one of the most elegantly dressed on
the most important items of clothing to the Saulteaux
man was the breechcloth or ázian. The ázian
was basically two aprons (one hanging in front and one
behind) suspended from a narrow belt. The aprons were
usually made of Buckskin. In the winter the two pieces
of the ázian were usually connected with another
piece of buckskin in between the legs. There were variations
of such types of clothing such as long ázians that
usually touched the ground. Only prominent warriors (Okítsitá?)
and Chiefs could wear the long variation of such items
the early days Saulteaux men wore both long and short
leggings. The leggings were made of buckskins. Each legging
required one buckskin, folded double to be appropriate
for the men to wear. The short legging reached from the
ankle to the knee and was fastened there with either beadwork
kneebands or yarn. The long leggings reached from the
ankle all the way to the hip and were fastened with buckskin
thongs that attached to the belt. Buckskin was also used
to sew the seam of the legging. The seam was usually fashioned
so that the opening of the legging was much larger than
the bottom. This style of seam attachment usually left
a flap of buckskin on the side of the legging and was
either cut into a fringe or decorated with beads. In later
days, leggings were usually made of blanket material.
the men, shirts were of the "poncho" fashion.
This was the type usually associated with the plains tribes.
Such tops were worn only during ceremonies and cold weather
as they were made of buckskin and did not suit to be used
during the warmer months. Three buckskins were required
to make such a shirt: one each for the front and back
and one more to fashion the sleeves. The Saulteaux style
of shirt differed slightly from the main style of plains
tribes' dress. This is so due to the presence of a beaded
yolk around the neck that was rectangular in shape. Underneath
the yolk there was a large circular rosette which was
also located in the back of the shirt. Along the sleeves
were stripes that repeated the rosette design on the main
part of the shirt. Attached on the back of these arm stripes
were fringes made of ermine skins or scalps. Another form
of top worn by Saulteaux men was the capote or parka.
These were made of moose or elk hide. This type of top
was fashioned with a pointed hood and attached with ornamental
feathers, tassels and bells in the back. The capote was
folded on the bottom to make a fastener for a belt or
sash. Such a design on the capote was usually utilised
as a pocket of sorts in which smaller items could be stored.
of the most well known or prominent items of clothing
used by the Saulteaux was the Buffalo robe, which is associated
with almost all plains culture tribes. The hide was worn
with a band of bead or quillwork running the length of
the hide in the back. This length of decoration was used
originally to disguise the seam that was used to fasten
the robe together. This seam was known as the "hump
upward" flaying technique. Even in later times when
such a technique was no longer used, the decoration remained.
Warriors and hunters would some times paint their exploits
on the inside of their robes to help them to prove shared
stories of their successes. One passage describes the
way in which the Saulteaux wore the robes:
wearing the robe the head end was grasped with the right
hand and brought around to the left side. The tail part
was thrown over the left shoulder, covering up the left
arm. The right arm and shoulder were thus left bare and
free for action, while the left hand grasped the robe
and held it in position." (P.48, Howard)
headgear of the Saulteaux people was very diverse not
only in their design but also in their meaning and importance.
bonnets: worn by the Okítsitá and other
distinguished warriors. This was usually worn during ceremonies
to distinguish the wearer from his colleagues and signify
his importance in the camp. The horned bonnet was usually
adorned with a single row of feathers on the tail part
running down the back of the wearer. Such items were also
usually adorned with paintings of the owners' exploits
in the hunt and during war on the tailpiece.
Headdress: these were made of a bison skull and horns.
They were usually worn on special occasions (ceremonies,
diplomatic events, etc). Members of the Buffalo dance
society also wore them.
headband: both men and women wore these when they participated
in the sundance. The only difference would be the presence
of an eagle feather at the crown of the males' headband.
head dress: worn by young grass dancers. This headgear
was adorned with both porcupine and deer hair.
headdress: these headpieces were worn by scouts to disguise
themselves among the tall prairie grass. Members of the
Okítsitá also wore them during special occasions
to mark their success as scouts. Variations of this are
long braids of bast fastened to a fillet of brasswood
bast with eagle feathers fastened upright to them.
should be known that moccasins were a unisex form of dress
among the Saulteaux. The moccasins that were worn by the
Saulteaux reflected their woodland roots and ancestry.
The moccasin was called Mintsíkawán-mákesín.
It was soft soled and made of two pieces. The sole piece
was puckered up around the large vamp at the instep. The
vamp was usually adorned with beaded floral designs (it
is this characteristic of the moccasin that gives it its
roots to a woodland origin) on black velveteen.
second style of moccasin worn by the Saulteaux is very
old and is only known through museums and prints. It is
a one-piece style with a seam puckered along the top of