Richard Thornton | May 9, 2017 | 23
Muskogean Women’s Fashions before and after British Colonization
Many Southeastern Native Americans AND the general public are under the impression that the clothing worn today at ceremonies, stomp dances and festivals were what was always worn in the past. The women’s dresses are beautiful; particularly those of the Florida Seminoles, but those fashions actually date back to the 1700s. The same can be said of the “long shirts” worn by Southeastern men.
It is quite likely that the Muskogeans formerly made cloth for blankets and shawls with polychrome, striped patterns like ribbon dresses. However, there was about a 150 year hiatus when Muskogean women apparently did not know how to weave, or else did not weave enough cloth to make dresses.
Prior to the extensive interaction between societies that resulted from the founding of Georgia, Muskogean women wore very different fashions than what one sees today at stomp dances. Another little known fact is that Muskogean towns annually elected “trade girls” who were essentially beauty queens with benefits, i.e. professional escorts. It was the highly intelligent “trade girls” whose names have often been recorded by history.
If interested in learning more, go to: Good Old Fashioned Way
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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history.Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.
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