This project came about when my husband, who is part Cherokee, and I wanted to find information on the evolution of dress of the Five Civilized Tribes, namely, the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole. We discovered that the material was not only scattered throughout books, but it was often contradictory. The more we looked, the more confusing the information appeared. Thus, we decided to devote the next few years, which turned into more than a few, to trying to cull this information from the various sources and put it together coherently.

We have relied, wherever possible, on primary sources in English as well as in French and Spanish. Unless otherwise noted, the actual French and Spanish translations are my own. Unfortunately, I am not versed in German and had to rely on already translated sources.

We found that books written in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were organized in a different manner than the reference books of today. In these old books, each chapter is summarized in one or two sentences at the beginning. Also, paragraph topics are noted in the left hand margin. I have opted not to do the latter; however, whenever useful, I have employed the former technique.

We have tried to organize this book into sections and chapters that are intrinsically connected but can also stand alone so that readers do not have to look all over the book to find related material and can skip sections that are not relevant to them.

The book is heavily footnoted and we have used direct quotations rather than paraphrased texts so that readers can refer to the direct sources and find them easily if they so desire. In addition, we have found that direct quotations lessen ambiguity and the possibility for misinterpretation of specific information. Direct quotations, especially from primary sources, also increase the contextual accuracy of the information.

Upon first glance, it might appear that the book contains historical information that is irrelevant to the main topic - dress and adornment. However, clothing is not an isolated but an integral part of the material and even spiritual culture of a people. Thus, if during the removal to Indian Territory, for example, some people had few clothes or were in a state of starvation, this condition would have effected how they lived upon arrival, their priorities, emotional fortitude, etc. and, in consequence, how they might have dressed.

The book is divided chronologically and along the continuum of general to specific. We have used, as stated earlier, mainly primary sources or nineteenth century or older secondary sources. The only changes we have made in regards to quoting these sources are, sometimes, in punctuation and spelling. The arrangement of words, has obviously, never been altered. We have used the original spelling and format when we felt it added to contextual accuracy either directly or indirectly. The only consistent changes that we have made are in substituting a "u" for a "v" since in old English the letters "u" and "v" were often reversed; One would find "vs" instead of "us". Also we substituted the modern "s" for the old English "s" which resembled a modern "f". However, with the start of the eighteenth century, since so many of the primary sources have been reproduced in modern English, for the most part, modern forms of English are used.

I have translated the French and Spanish and, wherever pertinent, included the original as well.

This book is not intended to interpret psychologically or otherwise the various modes of dress and adornment of the Indians of the southeast; its purpose is to gather information, evaluate its reliability, and logically present the various modes of dress among the Southeast Indians.

Whenever possible, we have tried to identify the group under discussion both by name and geographical location because many of the same peoples went under various names. Frederick W. Hodge in his encyclopedic book Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico presents the confusion succinctly. Even though his quotation referred to the Caddoan Indians and some of the facts are specific to them, it generally applies to all of the linguistic families in the southeast.

"The tribes were generally loosely confederated; a few stood alone. The tribe was subdivided, and each one of its subdivisions had its own village, bearing a distinctive name... A village could be spoken of in three ways: (1) By its proper name, which was generally mythic in its significance.; (2) by its secular name, which was often descriptive of its locality; (3) by the name of its chief. The people sometimes spoke of themselves by one of the names of their village, or by that of their tribe, or by the name of the confederacy to which they belonged. This custom led to the recording by the earliest travelers, of a multiplicity of names, several of which might represent one community. This confusion was augmented when not all the tribes of a confederacy spoke the same language; in such cases a mispronunciation or a translation caused a new name to be recorded."1

The reader cannot help but notice that some chapters devoted to specific tribes are considerably longer than others. This variance in length is due to the availability of material. Unfortunately, little was written about some of the tribes while the activities and lifestyles of others were extremely well recorded.

Readers will also notice as they continue with the book that there is an absence of much reference to oral descriptions of past dress and adornment. This has been a conscious choice made by the authors. Many factors have played a part in this decision.

Many years ago, when my husband asked his Cherokee grandmother about her heritage, she told him it was not important to his future. We have discovered this was not an isolated incident. Only in the past decade or so has it become fashionable to be a Native American who remembers the past.

Another reason for this decision is that primary source material starting in the early eighteenth century abounds with references to the forgotten heritage of the Indians of previous generations. These statement cannot be wholly attributed to the fact that the Indians did not want to share their heritage with the White man because amongst these tribes there were many mixed-bloods. However, the disruption of cultural patterns brought about by the turbulence of the White man's invasion created this historical void.

The material that we found determined the format for this book. Initially, we had only planned to dress the Native Americans and describe their attire. However, we found that that did not tell the necessary story about dress and adornment. The concept for the illustrations also changed as I started to create them. I found that the verbal descriptions of much of the Indians' dress was sufficient and I did not feel that my illustrative interpretation was necessary. However, I found that due to language contemporary to the period in which it was used, the depiction of European and Euro-American dress was very necessary.

In addition, the reader must be aware that people have always dressed in many different ways. They also have mixed contemporary and "out of style" garments. The European and Euro-American dress that is depicted in the book are generalizations. Other garments could have adorned the figures or more illustrations included, but, then, this would have been a book on Euro-American clothing.


1. Frederick Webb Hodge, Handbook of Indians North of Mexico, Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin, no. 30, part 1, p. 182.