American Indian Wedding Dress And Ancient Traditions

Embrace your heritage with an American Indian wedding dress and ceremony. There is great diversity in the cultures and traditions of American Indians.

In actuality there are many different tribes that have their own marriage traditions when it comes to the ceremony, attire, and festivities.

This page was written through researching those customs and is intended as a celebration of the same.

While not every detail may be articulated correctly it is designed to be insightful so that those who are not familiar with the native American wedding dress traditions can develop an appreciation for them.

Algonquin Traditions

The Algonquin traditions typically encompass the Cree, Chippewa or Ojibwa, the Montagnais, the Naskapi, the Ottowa and others. These people honored a matriarch society which means that when a young man decided to marry he followed his bride’s family. However, before making that decision he needed to meet the marriage requirements with his chosen bride.

The bride and the groom must choose sponsors and fulfill any requirements that the officiant outlines. In total the bride and groom will need four sponsors who will advice the couple on both spiritual and marital matters throughout their lifetime.

Traditionally an Algonquin marriage ceremony will take place outside under an arbor. The people believe that the bride and groom are making their commitment to God, and so there is no divorce and no option of breaking that commitment that the bride and groom made.

During the ceremony the Pipe Carrier, who is the officiant, ensures that the couple is very serious about their commitment. During the marriage ceremony the bride and groom are dressed in regalia, which is the traditional American Indian wedding dress used by the tribe.

Typically these garments are crafted by hand. Prior to dressing the bride will go to a nearby lake, river, or ocean to wash herself for the ceremony so that the spirit of the Earth will bless her.

Delaware Traditions

For Delaware Native Americans it is not uncommon to have a bride’s marriage arranged by her parents.

The union was created in a much simpler way. Basically, it was very common for a man and woman to simply live together as a couple with a simple ceremony to mark the union.

Basically, to create the union the groom would exchange blankets, a belt of wampum, or jewelry with the bride’s parents. If the parents accept the gifts, the union was made official.

For this ceremony the appropriate American Indian wedding dress would be a deerskin skirt that fell to her knee. Additionally, she would wear wampum beads around her head.

In some cases a bride may choose to wear shell necklaces or beaded necklaces, but beyond that the bride was bare which was customary dress.

During the winter months if the bride desired she could also wear deerskin leggings and moccasins. Finally, a bride would have her face painted with various colored clay to be fully prepared for her wedding day.

Hopi Traditions

Traditionally a Hopi girl would go through the rites of adolescents sometime between her 16th and 20th year. After that she was seen fit to accept suitors.

If that girl had a young man that she had decided on as a future husband she would invite him to a picnic. Basically, if a young man accepts this invitation he is agreeing to become engaged so the young men were selective as to which invitations they accepted.

Additionally, if the Hopi men wanted to propose they would prepare a bundle of moccasins and clothing for a woman and leave it at her door. If the girl accepts, the engagement is accepted.

However, the engagement also needed to be sanctioned by the community so the couple goes to the girls’ parents. If they approve the union the young man is told to inform his parents. At that point the girl makes bread to present to the boys mother and if she accepts the marriage will proceed.

A Hopi American wedding dress is made of manta beads and a traditional wedding blanket. She then goes barefoot to the boy's house with him at her side. Again she presents cornmeal to his mother and prepares to stay at their house for three days. For those three days she works with her mother-in-law to grind cornmeal.

On the day of the wedding the bride and groom both have their hair washed in one basin. Their hair is then braided together to signify their life together and they walk off to pray together.

The brides American Indian wedding dress is woven by the groom and any other men of the village who want to help with the garment. Once the garment is complete the bride will put it on.

Her American Indian wedding dress will be made up of two all-white wedding robes, one robe that is white with red stripes at both the top and bottom of it, a large belt, a string to tie back the brides hairs, white buckskin leggings, and coordinating moccasins.

(Images on this page are just an example of Native American apparel showing the amazing fringe and bead work that is possible. The different tribes have different wedding traditions and the individual wedding attire well reflect these traditions)



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