Unveil the Vibrant Attire of the Wampanoag: A Journey Through Indigenous Fashion

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what do wampanoag wear

Revealing the Traditional Garments of the Wampanoag People

From the depths of history, the Wampanoag tribe stood as guardians of the land, adorned in vibrant and meticulously crafted attire. As we delve into their rich cultural heritage, let’s unravel the secrets of what the Wampanoag people wore.

The Quest for Authentic Representation

The Wampanoag people have faced misrepresentation in popular culture, often depicted in inaccurate and stereotypical clothing. This diminishes the significance of their traditional garments, which hold profound cultural meaning and symbolize their connection to their ancestors and the natural world.

The Wampanoag Wardrobe

Men typically wore breechcloths made of deerhide or woven fiber, accompanied by leggings that reached mid-calf. Their upper bodies were often covered with a short, loose tunic or a buffalo robe. Women wore wrap-around skirts made from hides or woven fabrics, extending past their knees. They complemented their skirts with long-sleeved tunics or dresses made from soft materials. Both men and women adorned themselves with intricate jewelry, including shell necklaces, bone pendants, and feather headdresses.

Significance and Legacy

Wampanoag clothing not only provided protection from the elements but also served as a canvas for expressing their cultural identity. The materials used held symbolic meanings, with deerhide representing strength and courage, while shells represented fertility and growth. The intricate designs and patterns woven into their garments symbolized their connection to the natural world. Today, the Wampanoag people continue to honor their heritage through traditional clothing, which serves as a living testament to their resilience and cultural continuity.

What Do Wampanoag Wear?

The Wampanoag people, an indigenous tribe native to the northeastern United States, have a rich cultural heritage and distinct traditional clothing practices. Historically, their attire served both practical and ceremonial purposes, reflecting their values, beliefs, and connection to their land.

Materials and Design

Natural Materials:

Wampanoag clothing was made from animal hides, such as deer, raccoon, and bear skins, as well as plant materials like corn husk fibers, hemp, and reeds.

Animal Skins:

Animal skins were the primary material for garments like tunics, leggings, and moccasins. They provided warmth and protection against the elements.

Plant Fibers:

Plant fibers were used for summer clothing, as they were lighter and more breathable. Tunics and skirts made from corn husk fibers or hemp offered comfort in warmer months.

Clothing Items


Wampanoag tunics were loose-fitting garments that reached mid-thigh or lower. They were draped over the body and typically worn with leggings.


Wampanoag leggings covered the legs and thighs, reaching just below the knee. They were held up by a sash or belt.


Moccasins were essential footwear made from soft animal hide. They were designed to protect the feet from sharp objects and provide warmth.


Wampanoag headwear varied depending on the occasion. For everyday wear, men typically wore animal skin caps or headbands, while women might wear a cap made from corn husk fibers. For ceremonies, elaborate feathered headpieces were often worn.

Decoration and Symbolism

Geometric Patterns:

Wampanoag clothing often featured intricate geometric patterns, such as diamonds, zigzags, and squares. These patterns had symbolic meanings, representing the tribe’s connection to nature and their spiritual beliefs.


Beadwork was an important decorative element used on Wampanoag clothing. Beads were made from shells, bones, or copper, and were carefully sewn onto tunics, leggings, and moccasins.

Animal Motifs:

Animal motifs, such as deer, bears, and turtles, were often incorporated into Wampanoag clothing. These motifs symbolized strength, courage, and the tribe’s connection to the natural world.

Ceremonial Garments:

For ceremonies and special occasions, Wampanoag people wore elaborate garments adorned with feathers, beads, and other decorative elements. These garments symbolized the importance of the occasion and the wearer’s status within the tribe.

Cultural Significance

Wampanoag clothing held deep cultural significance, representing their identity, values, and traditions. It served as a way to connect with their ancestors, honor their heritage, and maintain their cultural practices.

Historical Interactions:

Wampanoag clothing played a role in their interactions with European settlers. As Europeans arrived in the 17th century, they influenced Wampanoag fashion to some extent, introducing new materials and styles.

Modern-Day Revival:

In recent years, there has been a revival of interest in Wampanoag traditional clothing. Many Wampanoag people have taken up the practice of making and wearing traditional garments, fostering a sense of cultural pride and continuity.


Wampanoag clothing is a testament to their ingenuity, creativity, and deep connection to their land. Its practical and symbolic significance continues to inspire modern-day Wampanoag people and serves as a reminder of their rich cultural heritage.


1. What colors did Wampanoag wear?

Earthy tones such as brown, tan, and black were prevalent in Wampanoag clothing.

2. Did Wampanoag men and women wear the same clothing?

While there were some similarities, men and women’s clothing styles differed slightly. Men typically wore tunics and leggings, while women wore tunics with skirts or dresses.

3. What ceremonies did Wampanoag clothing play a role in?

Wampanoag clothing held special significance for ceremonies such as the Green Corn Festival, which celebrated the harvest and the renewal of life.

4. How did European settlers influence Wampanoag clothing?

European contact introduced new materials like wool and cotton, as well as fashion styles that influenced Wampanoag clothing to some extent.

5. Why is Wampanoag clothing significant today?

Traditional Wampanoag clothing continues to be worn as a symbol of cultural identity, pride, and a connection to their ancestors.

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