NativeTech: Native American Technology and Art

<FONT SIZE=2><I>courtesy Harry Piper and Jacquelyn G.
Piper Archeological Excavations at the Quad Block Site, 8-Hi-998
Piper Archeological Research, Inc., St. Petersburg, FL. 1982.</I>
courtesy Harry Piper and Jacquelyn G. Piper Archeological Excavations at the Quad Block Site, 8-Hi-998 Piper Archeological Research, Inc., St. Petersburg, FL. 1982.
Introduction to
Seminole Accessories

in 19th Century Seminole Men`s Clothing
Rick Obermeyer ~ Editor


"Several of the Indians' fighting techniques were calculated to strike terror. Some warriors entered battle naked except of for a loin cloth, but their bodies were streaked with bizarre symbols in red and black paint. Other fighters wore battle costumes ranging from captured military uniforms to their traditional finery of feathers and medallions beaten from silver coins. Especially effective was the war cry, shrieked each time a shot was fired, which began like a growl and ended with a shrill yelp. The best rendition that any contemporaries could give in print was "Yohoehee," which does not create the crawling of the skin that the soldiers felt who heard it first hand.

...Hair was worn in two strips an inch wide, one running from temple to temple, the other at right angles to it from the center of the forehead to the base of the skull, with a small braid at each end. They worked feathers into this coiffure and dyed their hair and eyebrows black, sometimes with shoe polish. There might be a half red circle of paint under each eye and silver rings in the nose. A few famous braves had their ears slit and elongated. If a tunic was worn, it was spangled with ornaments hammered from silver coins." Pages 123-124, Mahon, 1967

(Billy Bowlegs) "Suspended from his neck were silver crescents, 'to which was appended a large silver medal with... likeness of President Van Buren...; his throat was thickly covered with strands of large blue beads, and he also wore bracelets of silver over the sleeves of his decorated hunting shirt."' Porter, 1967

(1852 trip to Washington) "On this northern excursion, Billy Bowlegs was able to meet President Millard Fillmore and, with the secretaries of War and Navy and the Commissioner of Indian Affairs present in the audience, he was presented with a medal by the President." Covington, 1982

(1880) "Having no pockets, the Seminole is obliged to submit to several inconveniences; for instance, he wears his handkerchief about his neck. I have seen as many as six, even eight, handkerchiefs tied around his throat, their knotted ends pendant over his breast; as a rule, they are bright red and yellow things, of whose possession and number he is quite proud. Having no pockets, the Seminole, only here and there one excepted, carries whatever money he obtains from time to time in a knotted corner of one or more of his handkerchiefs."

"Nor is the wearing of finger rings more common than that of rings for the ears. The finger rings I saw were all made of silver and showed good workmanship. Most of them were made with large elliptical tablets on them, extending from knuckle to knuckle. These also were home-made."

"...Silver wristlets are used by the men for their adornment. They are fastened about the wrists by cords or thongs passing through holes in the ends of the metal. Belts, and turbans too, are often ornamented with fanciful devices wrought out of silver. It is not customary for the Indian men to wear these ornaments in everyday camp life. They appear with them on a festival occasion or when they visit some trading post." MacCauley, 1887

(ca. 1896) "Another characteristic of the dress is the number of handkerchiefs worn, knotted loosely about the neck. Regardless of the temperature, the Indian adorns himself with six, eight or perhaps a dozen of the bright bandannas, exhibiting great pride in the number he possesses. A belt of buckskin completes the costume. From this are suspended a hunting knife, a revolver, a pouch in which is carried the ammunition and small articles necessary for the chase." Moore-Willson, 1914

"They also wear a watch chain and numerous safety pins fastened to their shirts. but I have never yet see one carry a watch...."

"The men do not paint their faces, but occasionally wear ornaments when visiting a white man's camp or going to a town or on a trading expedition... Sometimes the men wear bracelets of silver, but it is not a very common custom, as I have never seen but one Indian adorned in this manner." Cory, 1895

"Bracelets are another form that is quite rare; only on ceremonial occasions are those that are left worn. They are usually an inch to an inch and a half wide and are quite thin. At each end is a small perforation and a buckskin thong is run through to hold the bracelet in place."

"Rings are made of thin strips of silver soldered with a overlapping joint. They are about two- to three-sixteenths of an inch in width. They are still worn quite extensively by the men and women: the women often wear several on each hand." Goggin, 1940

Seminole Silverwork
Peace Medals for Seminole Outfits
Seminole Beads
Face Painting

Complete Index to Articles in 19th Century Seminole Mens Clothing


Cory, Charles B.
1896 Preface to Second Edition (and) The Seminole Indians, HUNTING AND FISHING IN FLORIDA.

Covington, James W.
1982 THE BILLY BOWLEGS WAR, The Mickler House Publishers, Chuluota

Goggin, John M.
1940 "Silver Work of the Florida Seminole." E1 Palacio 47:25-32.

MacCauley, Clay
1887 "The Seminole Indians of Florida." Fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, Washington DC.

Mahon, John K.
1967 HISTORY OF THE SECOND SEMINOLE WAR 1835-1842. University of Florida Press, Gainesville.

Moore-Willson, Minnie
1914 edition, THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA, Moffat, Yard and Company, New York.

Porter, Kenneth W.
1967 "Billy Bowlegs (Holata Micco) in the Seminole Wars." Florida Historical Quarterly 45: 219-42.

Contributed by Rick Obermeyer E-mail:
From the book 19th Century Seminole Mens Clothing
© 1991-2000 Sherwood F. Obermeyer Jr., 2124 Miscindy Place, Orlando, FL 32806

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