Q:

What do Cherokee Indians look like?

A:

Cherokee Indians, like other Native Americans, have dark hair, brown skin, and a distinct bone structure. AccessGenealogy.com notes a broad and flat face and a narrow nose as prominent characteristics; however, actual physical appearance among Cherokee’s may vary.

For everyday dress, Cherokee Indians wear the same clothing as other Americans, but for special occasions, traditional garments, such as ribbon shirts, tear dresses and moccasins, are worn. According to the Cherokee Museum, traditional Cherokee clothing began to change at the end of the 18th century when Cherokee people began adopting the fabrics and styles of their white neighbors.

Earlier in the century, men typically wore traded cotton shirts, leggings, loincloths, moccasins and a woven or beaded belt. Several piercings around the rim of the ear were common, as were feathers tied at the top of the head. Cherokee women wore feather or leather mantles and skirts and pierced the lobes of their ears.

Cherokee.org explains that ribbon shirts and tear dresses are thought to have come into fashion around the time of the Trail of Tears in the 1830s. Torn bolts of calico material are used to make the dresses, which are typically floor-length and decorated with appliquéd diamond patterns, triangles, circles or the sacred seven-sided Cherokee star. The ribbon shirt is made from the same material and features appliquéd ribbons, as the name suggests. Men occasionally wear the shirt with a traditional calico turban. Woven belts and corn beads may decorate the garments.


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