When it comes to representing tribal ideals and hunter culture, few images can beat that of the American Indian. The name “Indian” as given to the indigenous peoples of the American continents was most likely the result of early explorers having made the mistake of thinking that they had reached India. These explorers never thought that there would be a continent West of the European continent.
Today, what we call the Indian costume is a generalization of the clothing worn by the Native American tribes of the Southwest and Western parts of the United States. Though this may be an unfair representation, it does draw from historical facts. Studies show that the remaining indigenous peoples prefer the term “American Indian” over other collective names like “Native Americans”. Controversy over discrimination and nomenclature continues even today.
Moving on, the Indian costume we often recognize is made to look like leather, since the tribal peoples of old made and used a lot of leather. This made sense because leather was tough, meaning it would protect the wearer and last a long time. The coloration also helped them in some hunting situations. In any case, leather was a reasonably plentiful resource, as they would skin their hunting spoils and utilize whatever they could.
An Indian getup for males starts with brown, semi-fitted pants. The top can be a vest, a tabard, or a long-sleeved coat, and is often decorated with beadwork. Feet may be bare or protected by moccasins or sandals. We often portray American Indians with some sort of headgear, so you can choose between a headband and a crest of feathers. The men of American Indian tribes in warmer regions did not usually wear shirts, except in preparation for battle, when they would put on special “war shirts”.
For the ladies, an Indian costume is a brown dress often with traditional fringe designs. The dress may be long or short, loose or fitted, depending on your preference. Beadwork is also quite common, as are feathers and simple metal ornaments.
There are two weapons most commonly associated with the American Indians, and these are the tomahawk and the short bow and arrow. The tomahawk is a one-handed axe with a relatively small head. These weapons were made for close combat as well as throwing. The short bow and arrow were used in hunting as well as combat.
Try out an Indian Halloween costume, and let’s see “how” you do.
Available Indian Costume Sizes
To make the most of your Indian costume, or any costume for that matter, you need to get one in the right size. This is especially true of the costumes that are supposed to flatter and cling to your form. Kids’ sizes for these costumes range from Toddler to Large, while adults can get theirs in Small to Plus sizes.
The looser costumes are usually one-size, as the looseness gives some leeway. Feedback on sizing was positive, with many saying that the costumes (especially ladies’ costumes) were true to size.
Please note that footwear is excluded from these costumes, so you will have to choose. There is quite a selection of boots, sandals, and moccasins. Of course, bare feet also work, if you are comfortable that way.
For a complete Indian Halloween costume, it is recommended that you get a long black wig, unless you already have long black hair. Braids are the hairstyle of choice for these costumes.
Indian Background Information
American Indians are often seen as the poster children for racial marginalization, considering how they were treated by European settlers. Even today, American Indians face discrimination and marginalization, although to a lesser degree than in previous historical eras.
The term “American Indian” refers to an incredibly diverse collection of peoples and their individual tribes. There are commonalities yet each group is distinct from another in some way. Styles of dress, deity worship, language, moral values, art and architectural styles, daily living techniques – all these make for a great variety of distinct groups within the umbrella of the “American Indian”.
Depiction and characterization of American Indians in the past is considered mostly unjust. Indeed, these peoples were brave but they were not savages. They had their own strict moral codes, and were disciplined as well. The vilification may have come to being as a result of the prudish mindsets of early colonizers, who then passed the prejudices to their children and so on.
Indian Movies & TV Shows
In earlier centuries and decades, American Indians were portrayed in various media often as villains to the European settlers. A fine example of such profiling can be seen in films and stories told in the setting of the Wild West. The American Indians in these depictions were often shown as either savage and excessively warlike or devious, sneaky, and unregretful thieves and killers.
A variation of the Westerns, produced by eastern European companies, were more sympathetic, often depicting the American Indian as a noble warrior who was oppressed and seeking to gain better lives for his people.
Today, those depictions have gone out of style, but there seems to be even less exposure for American Indians now. Even the comics where they appear never seem to make it into mainstream popularity.
American Indian culture has had some effect on the environmentalist movement, particularly during the Seventies, when hippie culture explored it as an alternate spiritual path.
Not quite sure whether you can pull off the “leather” and feathers? Here are some suggestions for alternatives to the classic American Indian costume.
Like the bow and arrow but prefer to be a little less exposed? Get a Robin Hood costume! Ye Olde England’s most famous folk hero and all-around wonder, will strike at the heart of villainy – and perhaps the hearts of fair maidens everywhere.
Dressing up as a pilgrim is sort of fun in a prim and proper way. Certainly, it does fit in with the time period of the Wild West. Great for Thanksgiving! While we are talking about the Wild West, how about getting your chaps on with a cowboy or cowgirl costume? Yeehaw!
Why not go as an Indian, as in someone actually from India? Bollywood is a great source of ideas for exotic and flashy costumery, and will certainly make you stand out of the crowd!
Ideal Companion Costumes
The ideal companion costumes as voted by our subscribers are the Pocahontas Costume and the Samurai Costume!
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