Clothing varied dramatically among the different Native American peoples. The variations are such that it is difficult to decribe any garments that were shared among Native Americans. There were garments that were widely worn regionally such as mocasins in North America and ponchos in the Andes. Thus we have attempted to addrss clothing either regionally or on the individualn tribal pages. Perhaps the most common element was animal producrs for decoration such as teeth and feathers. But this was not destinctive to Native americans, these items were also used by stone age people on other continents. There were no garments common among all Native American peoples. The reason for that is that Native Americans were tremendosly diverse culturally. Some Native Americans did not wear clothes such as the Tainos that Columbus first encontered in the Bahamas (Lucays--the useless islands). The Taino on Hispaniola were somewhat more advanced, but clothing was still very basic if worn at all. The Spanish were impressed when they first came on Mayan traders who exhibited a level of modesty. [F. Colón] In sharp contrast to the Taino, the great Native American cultures such as the Inca produced some of the finest woven textiles imaginable. The Spanish were shocked by the lack of clothing among the Taino. And along with Christenizing them attempted to get them to wear clothing. Missionaries on Hawaii and elswhere in Polynesia attempted to do the same. Christian missions played an important role for the spreading of European clothing and sense of modesty. In spite of his effort, clothing was seen as something unconnected with the local culture. Their sucess in large measure reflected the degree of control. Thus the Spanish with the Native americans organized into ecomiendas could require Native Americans to adopt Western clothing. The Native Americans isolated in rempte areas of the Amazon were able to mauntain their cultural patterns.
Colón, Fernando. ed. Luis Arranz. Historia del Almirante (Madrid, 2000), pp. 284-85.
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