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College of Arts & Sciences
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Cory Willmott

Clothed Encounters


"Clothed Encounters: Anishnaabe Dress in Intercultural Relations, 1760 -2000"

What were the Anishnaabe peoples (Ojibway, Odawa, Potawatomi and Menominee) wearing in the Great Lakes region in 1780, 1820, 1870, or 1930? This work presents the first comprehensive history of Anishnaabe clothing styles ever to be written. It encompass the history of Anishnaabe dress from the British conquest of New France to the early twentieth century, and reveals the indigenous roots of style preferences during each period of fashion change. This history of Anishnaabe dress includes not only ceremonial attire, but also pays special attention to the relation between Anishnaabe everyday wear and the power balance between Native peoples and the colonizers.

What caused Anishnaabe clothing styles to change over the years? This work demonstrates that there are distinct stylistic periods in the history of Anishnaabe dress that correspond with major changes in the relationship between Native and non-Native peoples. In particular, clothing styles both reflect and influence the degree of economic and representational control held by Anishnaabek, and hence their political power in relation to non-Native peoples and governments. Moreover, each of the periods can be characterized by overarching cultural scripts which prescribe roles, sets and scenarios which people enact in their daily lives. Because clothing embodies these roles, it is a means through which people maintain, challenge and negotiate identities and relationships of power. The story of Anishnaabe clothing is one of cultural integrity, loss, adaptation and renewal that reflects the resiliency and creativity of the Anishnaabe spirit through rapid changes, hardships and challenges.

The Rippling Stream (Omuddwajecoonoqua)


From: Rev. Peter Jones. 1861. History of the Ojebway Indians

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