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Section title: Plains Cree
Introduction | History | Daily Life | Culture | References


Daily Life

Clothing

 
  A Plains Cree man

Plains Cree men traditionally wore a breechclout of deerskin or buffalo hide. The breechclout consisted of two pieces of leather hung from a belt, one in front and one behind. Men also wore leggings of soft leather. The leggings allowed ventilation, protection and movement, especially when the men were riding horses. Men did not usually wear any kind of shirt, but relied on buffalo robes to cover their upper bodies. They used these buffalo robes during every season of the year. Men wore moccasins on their feet in summer and a kind of rawhide sun visor to shade their eyes; in winter, they wore warm buffalo-hide footwear with the hair on the inside, along with leather mitts.

Plains Cree women wore knee-length dresses that hung from two shoulder straps, along with leggings and decorated belts. Like the men, they wrapped themselves in buffalo robes. Their moccasins were made from one piece of leather sewn around the foot. During the winter they wore leather mittens. Plains Cree women originally created beautiful designs on their clothing out of porcupine quills. Later, they used beads acquired in trade from Europeans.

 
Suc-a-ma-ta-mia (Poundmaker), son of Chief Poundmaker, 1896  

Some clothing was worn for ceremonies only. The most important article of ceremonial clothing for a man was the eagle feather bonnet. This was a headdress that had been used for thousands of years by other Aboriginal groups on the prairies. After the Cree moved to the prairies, they adopted the eagle feather bonnet tradition. Each eagle feather on the bonnet represented a great deed.

Sometimes, when hunting buffalo, a hunter wore a larger buffalo horn headdress that covered much of his head. A hunter wearing this type of headdress and a buffalo robe could sneak up and make the kill.

 

Glossary

breechclout: a piece of clothing made from deerskin or buffalo hide. The breechclout consisted of two pieces of leather hung from a belt, one in front and one behind

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