Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1877 Nez Perce warrior
Subject: warrior
Culture: Nimiipuu / Nez Perce
Setting: Northwest Plateau 19thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* von Aderkas/Hook 2005 p8
"The southern tribes of the Plateau lived along the Columbia River and its tributaries. ... The area was dominated by the Nez Perce, who lived in territory stretching across the modern state lines of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  They waged war against the Shoshone to the south and the Blackfoot to the east.  Said to be the best horsemen on the Plateau, they were also highly skilled with the bow and arrow, and later with the gun."

* von Aderkas/Hook 2005 p34
"The war chief would try to raise a war party, explaining all the reasons for war to the assembled tribe.  The Nez Perce, Pend d'Oreille, and Flathead had their own versions of the Plains Crazy Dog warrior society, and would therefore have a group of professional warriors to draw upon."

* Forczyk/Dennis 2011 p26
"Unlike the romantic tribe later dreamed up by the Eastern press, the Nez Perce of 1877 were a savage and arrogant foe who could have spared defeated enemies or civilians, but chose to forego mercy.  There is no record that Joseph or any of the other tribal leadership ever chastised warriors for murdering or raping civilians, or exterminating trapped foes to the last man -- in the Nez Perce lexicon these were acceptable forms of warfare, as long as they were waged on their enemy."


* Koch 1977 p96
"[The full war dress among the Nez Percés] consists of the entire skin of a wolf's head, with the ears standing erect, fantastically adorned with bear's claws, bird's feathers, trinkets, and bells.'  Use of grizzly-bear skins as head covering has been mentioned previously."

* Paterek 1994 p228-229
"The 'stand-up' warbonnet (not the 'halo' type), made of eagle feathers set in a beaded leather band, and with strips of ermine fur at the sides, was generally worn by the Nez Perce warriors, or else they donned a cap made of an entire wolf's head with the ears standing erect; this was adorned with bear claws, bird feathers, and other decorations.  Some wore the horned headdress."


* Paterek 1994 p226
"Nez Perce men wore the short skin shirt of the Plateau with its punctured decoration.  Often worn over this shirt was a collar consisting of an entire otter skin with the tail hanging down in front.  Koch says that the Nez Perce used deerskins dyed to a salmon color. ... Shirts had beaded bands over the shoulders and down the arms, as well as beaded rosettes or rectangles on the chest and back.  Later shirts, like those of the Sioux, were thigh-length.  Breechclouts were of skin with fringes; later they were of cloth, ankle-length, with vertical bands of beading.  Late in the nineteenth century long plaid breechcloths were favored. Thigh-length leggings of deerskin, mountain-goat skin, and even of rabbit fur, had side flaps and fringed bottom tabs, and were frequently painted with horizontal stripes.  Later made of cloth, especially blue strouding, the leggings had side flaps edged with white, as well as rectangles at the bottom with white edgings.  Some later leggings were made from Hudson's Bay Company blankets.  Shirts and leggings were often embellished with quill-wrapped horsehair fringes, a characteristic type of decoration found especially among the Nez Perce and the Crow."

* Koch 1977 p110
"Among the Nez Percés, according to Spinden, 'the entire [shirt] front was often decorated with small punctuations, usually round and not arranged to bring out any design or figure.  Over the shirt was often worn a collar consisting of an entire otter ... skin, the tail hanging down in front.'  The Nez Percés  used 'salmon-colored tanned deerskin.'"


* Paterek 1994 p229
"Small round shields of elk skin were painted and adorned with feathers.  Armor was made of layers of tough elk skin or buffalo hide; the Nez Perce were also said to have worn helmets of elk skin."


* Paterek 1994 p228
"Moccasins were the soft-sole type with the seam along the side of the foot, earlier decorated with porcupine quillwork, later with beadwork or a combination of the two.  Maurer shows a Nez Perce moccasin with a popular design of a long beaded trapezoid emanating from a circle or a bar with flanking bars; diagonally striped bands and eight-pointed stars also seem to have been common features.  Conn tells about the use of 'scatter beading' in Plateau moccasins, in which the beads were sewn individually to a backing in simple figures or a polka-dot pattern; this was generally used as a way of creating a mottled surface or a variation in texture.  Typically moccasins were painted red.  Snowshoes were necessary for hunting in the deep snows of winter."