|Arapaho women were in charge of making the clothing
for their families out of animal skin. They used everything from
deer to elk to buffalo. First they would have to scape all of the
flesh off of the hides, then they would strech the skins on to
pegs to dry stiff. This was called rawhide. The Arapaho women then
took this rawhide and tanned it, turning it into soft buckskin.
Finally, they cut the buckskin into smaller pieces and sewed them
into clothes using sinew thread.
During the earlier days, when the Arapaho lived in the North woods, the
women would wear a simple buckskin skirt and a poncho-style shirt. Later,
when the Arapaho lived primarily on the plains, the Arapaho women wore
moccasins, knee-length leggings, and a dress. The dress would be ankle-length,
fringed with buckskin. For ornamentation, they used porcupine-quills,
paint, elk-teeth, and beads. Their knee-length leggings laced in the
front and were often decorated with yellow ochre and bands of quillwork.
|Arapaho men wore a breechcloth, sometimes a shirt,
hip-length leggings of deerskin, a robe and moccasins. The breechcloth,
or breechblout, consisted of a rectangular piece of buckskin that
was drawn between the legs and then tied around the waist. When
the Arapaho men did wear the hip-length leggings, they had bands
of quillwork and long fringes on the sides. The shirts were also
poncho style, just like the women's, and were fringed with buckskin.
In the 19th Century, the Arapaho men began wearing breastplates
made out of hairpipe beads. Warriors often wore necklaces. They
were symbolic designs that they based from their dreams.
|Arapaho leggings, 19th century. Univ.
of Colorado Museum #39459
|Both the men and women moccasins were
made out of rawhide soles and buckskin tops. The Arapaho’s
clothing had no pockets so they had to carry all of their belongings
in pouches that they then tied to belts or thongs on their clothing.
They also wore earrings made out of shell, bone, or of feathers.
In fact, the Arapaho were given the nicknames, “Big Bead,”or “Blue
Bead Indians”because of their adoration of big blue beads.
It is not known but they could have been made out of turquoise
that they obtained through trade.
Designs on the clothing often depicted spiritual
beings. These would include geometric patterns of diamonds, triangles,
arrows, and stripes.
Arapaho moccasins, 19th century.
Univ. of Colorado Musuem #10367
|During the winter months, the Arapaho kept warm by
wearing buggalo-skin robes that they draped over their shoulders
and then tied together in the front with thongs. These too were
decorated on the tanned side. The designs would either be painted
or made with quillwork. To help them walk through snow, the Arapaho
made snowshoes with wooden frames that were laced with strips of