Manner of Cherokee Dress

Taken from a manuscript prepared by J.P. Evans in 1835


"The dress of the men consists of a short gown, generally called a hunting shirt, in the construction of which, considerable taste is sometimes displayed. A beaded belt (especially in winter) is worn around the waist. Coarse homespun pantaloons are the most common, but some old men disdain their use and wear deer skin legging.

Mocassins are yet extensively used by both men and women; but shoes are coming into use. The blanket, like the highland plaid of Scotland, serves as a cloak by day and a bed at night."

The Cherokee never wore headdresses, as did some of the Plains Indians. Cherokee warriors usually shaved or plucked their heads except for a single scalp-lock towards the back of the head; they would use it to tie one eagle or turkey feather to their heads. The Cherokee men wore woven turbans made of hide or cloth. Sequoyah, the creator of the Cherokee Syllabary, is always pictured wearing a turban.

By the early 1800’s, the Cherokee were greatly influenced by the British. The Cherokee Nation traded British goods - especially firearms - which were important in making the Cherokees a powerful nation; one to be reckoned with in the struggle among the European powers for control of Southeastern America.

The Cherokee successfully adopted the customs, ways, laws and religion of their white neighbors. Generally, many Cherokees became prosperous merchants, traders, planters and slave owners, teachers, writers and tribal statesmen. The old customs of the Cherokees; wearing turbans, scalp-locks and feathers, slowly disappeared.