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Metis Womens Clothing1

Metis womens clothing was somewhat subdued, usually consisting of a long skirt with a shawl or large handkerchief worn as a hood. Young women tended to wear brighter coloured shawls than did their older, married sisters, and they would often don richly embroidered or beaded leggings and moccasins. In winter both men and women would wear cloth or skin leggings In the United States, half-leggings are known as botas or botte from the !rench word for a high boot.

Metis women dressed conser"ati"ely in a dark shirt or dress of calf length, moccasins and a shawl to co"er the head. #he women wore dark coloured, loosely fitted, waisted dresses, long slee"es, with small cuffs and of mid-calf to longer in length. #heir a$rons could be dark in colours, from the waist only and fairly long, or lighter in colour, embroidered and somewhat shorter with a to$ bib on them. #he short a$ron was mainly used for cooking. %ong dresses of calico cloth were another fa"ourite of Metis women. &ra$around moccasins were common and a dark coloured shawl was worn around the shoulders. #artan shawls were also $o$ular. Metis women wore a medium si'ed brooch attached to the front centre of their dress, (ust below the neckline. )lder women were seldom seen without a crucifi* hanging from around the neck.

,ortions re$rinted from %. -. .arkwell, %. /orion and /. ,r0fontaine 12ds.3 Metis Legacy: Michf Culture, Folkways and Heritage. &inni$eg4 ,emmican ,ublications and 5abriel /umont Institute, 677+4 8ha$ter 9, Metis 8lothing by :udreen ;ourie and %awrence .arkwell4 $$. <+-=>.

,hoto from the ,ublic :rchi"es of Manitoba, .reland 1,ascal3 !amily 8ollection +?, @ +9><A, the Mc,herson family at %ake of the &oods.

In his @orth /akota history book 8lement %ounsberry gi"es the following narrati"e on womens clothing4 #he buffalo hunters were most im$ro"ident in dress and li"ing. In many instances, Mrs. 8a"ileer states, their wi"es wore silk "el"et, and the most costly fabric of other manufacture, e"en in the buffalo cam$. #he style of dress was a matter of much concern among the women. #he waist was close fitting, with Bmutton-leg slee"es, the folds of the round, $lain skirt falling to within si* inches of the ground. #hey wore moccasins, mostly beaded or embroidered with Cuills, and leggings. : graceful feature of their costume was a broadcloth blanket, thrown carelessly o"er their shoulders, while a line silk handkerchief was so fastened o"er the head and face as to dis$lay most bewitching eyes to the best

$ossible ad"antage. #he hair was neatly braided and coiled at the back of the head. #hey had charming manners, with an oriental tinge. 6

/uck %ake Inter$reti"e 8entre, $hoto 66=-,-<A.

8lement :. %ounsberry, North Dakota History and People !utlines of "#erican History 1Dolume +3. &ashington4 %iberty ,ress, +E+E4 +?7.


8om$iled by %awrence .arkwell 8oordinator of Metis ;eritage and ;istory Fesearch %ouis Fiel Institute