Wôbanaki Girl's Clothing from 1700
As a very young girl or boy, a Wôbanaki child
might wear only a breechclout or nothing at all in the
warm weather. Otherwise, they would dress the same as
their parents. Wôbanaki people slept in whatever
was most suited for the season. In the winter this would
mean wearing several layers to bed, and in the hot weather
a child might sleep without clothing.
Among the numerous items available through trade in
the 1700s were wool and linen cloth, ready-made shirts,
knitted wool hats and mittens, glass beads, brass kettles,
and metal axe heads and knife blades. Native American
people in New England would trade with the French in
New France or the English in the American colonies. Items
they received might come from England, France, Holland,
or as far away as India.
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This girl wears a linen shift. It is a trade item and is the
same style worn by French and English girls. European girls
wore shifts under their petticoats (skirts) and covered them
up with other layers of clothing. Wôbanaki girls and
women typically wore shifts and shirts outside of their skirts
Comb & Mirror
The comb and mirror are trade items. The
Abenaki call a mirror a “pipinawiakwigan”.. The
comb this girl is using to comb tangle from her hair is called
a “naskuahon. ” It
is made from cow horn.
This skirt is made of wool cloth and decorated
with ribbons. The skirt wraps around the waist and a
sash is tied on to keep the skirt in place. Wrap skirts and
petticoats are called “labizowan”.
These are wool leggings, called “medasal”.
They are tied to a belt at the waist to keep them up.
Leggings were worn for warmth and to protect one's legs when
walking through scratchy undergrowth.
These are summer-weight moccasins with a center seam.
They are made from the hide of a white-tailed deer.
The Abenaki call all kinds of shoes "mkezenal". The
English adapted this word into “moccasin”.
Sash & Garters
This girl wears a sash around her waist
and garters, called “kiganibial.” They are tied
on just under her knees. The sash and garters are made from
wool yarn, using a technique called "fingerweaving".
As the name suggests, fingerweaving is a way to weave by using
just the fingers, instead of weaving on a loom. The garters
help to keep the girl's leggings in place.
This girl wears several necklaces, made of glass beads
and one made from brass rings. A necklace is called
a thing that circles. These rings were called "bagues
a cachet" (plaque rings) by the French, and were given
to Native people by traders, soldiers, politicians,
and Catholic priests.
The French people call this kind of hooded coat a "capot".
It overlaps in front to button at the shoulder, and a
sash holds it closed at the waist. This capot is made of wool.
This kettle is made of brass and was received in trade.
The girl can use it to help her mother cook. Or, it
can be cut up into shiny metal to be used for jewelry.
This is a braid of dried sweetgrass. As
the name suggests, the grass has a sweet odor. It would
be used to decorate baskets and give them a pleasant smell,
and it would also be burned during ceremonies as a kind of
incense, or smudge to clear the air of any harmful energy.
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