Bags and Pouches

Native American Bags and Pouches

Native Indian Bags and Pouches
Facts and information about the History of Clothing and regalia of Native American Indians and their Bags and Pouches. As the Native American Indians of the Great Plains and other regions did not have pockets in their clothing they made a variety of different bags and pouches as a convenient way to carry their possessions. The bags and pouches were both decorative and functional.

They were used to carry articles such as mirrors, face and body paints, “medicine” items, good luck charms, pipes, sewing equipment, dried food and tobacco. This article contains interesting facts and information about the bags and pouches used by Native American Indian tribes.

Bags and Pouches Fact Sheet

  • Bags and Pouches Fact 1: Native American Indians did not have pockets but they did wear belts. A bag or pouch was often inserted over a belt, a convenient way of transporting items on hunting or trading expeditions or when they moved camp
  • Bags and Pouches Fact 2: A bag or pouch was usually made of deerskin or another animal hide and decorated with fringes, paint, quills and beads
  • Bags and Pouches Fact 3: Quivers, tobacco pouches, and medicine bags were also made from pelts of panthers, otter, raccoon, reptiles, birds and beaver
  • Bags and Pouches Fact 4: Used for a variety of functions there many different types of bag and pouch including the parfleche pouch, medicine bag and pemmican bags
  • Bags and Pouches Fact 5: The Parfleche was principally used to carry Pemmican. Pemmican was a high-energy food that was long lasting, easily transportable and ideal on journeys. Tribes stored their supplies of pemmican in bags that were usually made of buffalo hide or deerskin. This type of bag or pouch was adopted by the Europeans and became known by the Americans as saddle  bags or as a parfleche by the French.
  • Bags and Pouches Fact 6: The tobacco bag or tobacco pouch held items such as a pipe, tobacco, fire striker, flint and tinder. Tobacco bags were largely ceremonial and considered to be works of art.
  • Bags and Pouches Fact 7: A Medicine Bag was a sacred container that contained symbolic and ritual items used by the 'Medicine Man', or Shaman, of the tribe
  • Bags and Pouches Fact 8: The Quiver was another form of bag or pouch carried by the hunters and warriors of the tribes. A Quiver was a portable sheath that contained arrows. Quivers were made of extremely tough material as it had be strong enough so that the arrows would not pierce the quiver. The arrows were typically placed tip side down in the quiver.
  • Bags and Pouches Fact 9: Tribes such as the  Cherokee and Chippewa used a should bag called a Bandolier. These were originally copied them from bags carried by European soldiers
  • Bags and Pouches Fact 10: Early bags and pouches were closed with a drawstring
  • Bags and Pouches Fact 11: Bead and quill embroidery were used to decorate the containers. Paintwork and fringes were also added to complete the decorations
  • Bags and Pouches Fact 12: Different designs were used on the front and the back
  • Bags and Pouches Fact 13: Decoration included geometric abstract designs, pictorial imagery, and floral motifs. Imagery also represented sacred symbols and deeds of war
Native American Clothing
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