Native American Turbans

Native Indian Turbans worn by the Yuchi, Natchez, Seminole, Creek and Shawnee tribes

Native American Turbans
Facts and information about the History of Clothing, headwear and regalia including Native American Turbans. Native American Indians are most closely associated with feathered headdresses and  warbonnets, however, many famous tribes such as the Yuchi, Natchez, Seminole, Creek and Shawnee wore  a cloth Turban.

This style of headwear became popular during the 1800's as trade cloth became easily available. At this time tribes acquired many clothes of European manufacture. Symbolic plumes were added which stamped the culture and identity of Native Indians to the turbans. Prior to this time fur turbans were worn for practical reasons to keep out the cold by northern tribes such as the Mohawk, Chippewa and Pawnee.  

Native American Clothing - Native American Turbans
The history of traditional or ceremonial dress and regalia worn by Native American Indians is a fascinating subject. The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Native American Turbans, a popular form of headwear or hats worn by many tribes.

Native American Turbans Fact Sheet

  • Native American Turbans Fact 1: Turban Definition: A turban is a traditional headdress consisting of a long scarf, sash or shawl wrapped around the head and sometimes hanging down the neck
  • Native American Turbans Fact 2: The turban is most associated with countries of the Far East but Turban wearers extended North Africa, the Middle East and Asian countries.
  • Native American Turbans Fact 3: Europeans adopted this style of headwear from 1650 to 1750 when elaborate wigs were in fashion. Men of this era shaved their heads or cropped their hair and some alternative style of headwear was useful when the wigs were off
  • Native American Turbans Fact 4: The turban as a European fashion coincided with the colonization of North America when Native Indian tribes came into close contact with the white colonists
  • Native American Turbans Fact 5: The materials and cloth used by the Europeans and early Americans were admired by many Native Indians and the new ideas were copied and simulated by many tribes, especially in the Southeast regions
  • Native American Turbans Fact 6: Trade between the colonists and tribes began with the fur trade and later moved on to trading deerskins. Trade Cloth was first introduced to Native Americans during the early 17th century
  • Native American Turbans Fact 7: Trade Cloth consisted of many machine-made textiles. Wool, linen and calicos were traded for furs and deerskins. Trade cloth was eagerly sought by the tribes because they were much easier to cut, sew and keep clean than the animal hides they replaced. In the late 1700s trade cloth was used by the United States government as payment for land transactions and settlements of peace treaties
  • Native American Turbans Fact 8: Clothing and garments made from trade cloth were considered by many tribes as a status symbol
  • Native American Turbans Fact 9: The turban was a style of head covering favored by many of the Southeast Indian Tribes who were located in the states of Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas and Oklahoma
  • Native American Turbans Fact 10: The Southeastern tribes who wore a turban included men of the Five Civilised Tribes, notably the Cherokee, Creek and Seminoles, and other southeastern tribes such as the Yuchi and the Natchez.
  • Native American Turbans Fact 11: Tribes who inhabited other areas such as the Shawnee also wore a turban as a head covering
  • Native American Turbans Fact 12: Prior to the white incursion many tribes in the colder, northern regions had developed their own turban headwear by wrapping furs around their heads to keep warm. These tribes included the Mohawk, Chippewa (Objiwe) and the Pawnee
  • Native American Turbans Fact 13: The tribes used trade cloth to make their turbans but embellished their new style of headwear with symbolic feathers and plumes thus creating their own distinctive style of turban that reflected the culture, beliefs and identity of the tribes
  • Native American Turbans Fact 14: Plumes, such as those from the heron and egret, were incorporated in the turban of warriors and distinguished chiefs
  • Native American Turbans Fact 15: The turban style headwear decorated with a feather plume was considered to be of spiritual significance and held great power
  • Indian Turbans Fact 16: Materials and scarves included wool, soft fur, calico, linen, cotton and even silk
  • Indian Turbans Fact 17: Long strips of cloth, usually under five meters in length, were wrapped around the head
  • Indian Turbans Fact 18: A Cloth turban was also created resembling a type of bandana.
  • Indian Turbans Fact 19: Some were made using a woolen shawl, sometimes covered with a more expensive piece of calico or silk. The turban was occasionally encircled by a metal headband (tin or silver)

For additional facts about headwear refer to the articles on Roach Headdresses, Feather Headdresses, and War Bonnets.

Native American Clothing
Native Indian Tribes Index

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