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How to Make Native American Regalia

Updated July 01, 2018

The word regalia, in Native American use, refers to the traditional clothing worn on ceremonial occasions. Styles, colours and methods of decoration vary from tribe to tribe. Within those variations each individual is free to express her own tastes. Men's and women's clothing share many of the same design elements. Elaborate beadwork and the use of feather quills and bone are characteristic of Native American regalia. Clothing worn for dancing conforms to the particular dance.

Create a woman's Jingle Dress with seven tiers of noisemaking metal cones. Bird bones or deer hooves can be substituted. Decorate the dress with paint, beadwork, appliqu├ęs and ribbons.

Sew a Cherokee Tear Dress with square and rectangular pieces of fabric. Include a shoulder yoke and a front opening. Add square gussets where the sleeves are attached to the bodice and under the arms. Add decorative bands of fabric at the yoke, on the sleeve and around the skirt.

Make a woman's northern traditional dress of wool or buckskin and decorate it heavily with beads, elk teeth, bone, quillwork or shells. Add small metal cones to the hem and a belt with beaded pouches.

Add strands of ribbon or yarn to the arms of a man's costume for the grass dance. The strands symbolise grass in the spirit world.

Stitch bustles made from long feathers to the waist of a male dancer's regalia. Include a red eagle feather if the man is a veteran who has been injured in battle.

Sew simple cotton or buckskin trousers and a shirt to make men's southern traditional regalia. Add a waist- or knee-length bone breastplate and a headdress of porcupine and deer hair.

Create a feather war bonnet by attaching feathers to a beaded headband. The feathers can stand straight up, hang down to the waist or trail along the ground. Make a roach headdress by attaching stiff hair from a deer or moose to a bone or leather base that when worn will stick up like a crest. Weave a round basket hat from sumac or cedar bark.

Decorate a Plain's Indians man's buckskin war shirt with beadwork, ermine tails and intricate quillwork.

Tip

Complement women's regalia with breastplates, necklaces, beaded leggings, purses and moccasins. Some outfits are worn with eagle feathers and a fan. Make long, fringed shawls for women with embroidery detail and decorate them with quills, feathers and ribbon.

Warning

Learn proper Pow Wow etiquette before attending.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal cones
  • Bones
  • Ribbons
  • Appliques
  • Beads
  • Quills
  • Shells
  • Feathers
  • Fur
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About the Author

Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.