Fort Pitt

Fort Pitt
Center of the ohio country universe

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

being wrong,The EWIC and Steve Jones's Head Scarf

I am a firm believer of admitting when I’m wrong. Many times in this weirdness I have chased a rabbit down a hole only to find out that it was a skunk (and I was lookin at the bizzness end) The “Cherokee” bag has proved to be just one such skunk (and I’m really kicking myself for this one). I had my doubts about the bag but was looking for northern examples of that type of painted bag. Well a blog reader set me straight.
The Cherokee bag for all intents and purposes looks to be an Apache bag. Allen Chronister sent me a image of an apache bag after my blog posting and bingo that bag looks Cherokee. I looked for a few more hours and fond a number of examples of that bag all attributed to the apache. SO folks put the tempera paint away and get back to sewing otter skins.
This is a perfect example for me of looking for info, adapting to new info and not bein scared to admit the fact the info you found is dated/worng. If you don’t do that in this hobbie….well then you end up wearing orange buckskins, a blanket bonnet with a rr pin and bitchin about the fact you cant get into the kewl new events. Evolve or die people….
So since I’ve been locked into looking at all things native as of late I’ve decided to throw some info out there to maybe rock the canoe so to speak. I think it’s again time we all look in our trade mirrors and take a good long look….at what’s on our heads. One of my big pet peeves for a LOOOOONG time has been the overuse of modern paintings to justify hair weirdness. Roaches, turkey feather bushes, feather roaches made like modern powwow roaches all with turtle shell spreaders and squirrel skulls.
You know you did it. The pictures are on facebook. You spent more money on prints then books and ran down sutlers row buying all kinds of weirdness….
SO building off of a few articles Alan Gutchess did years ago in his booklet “native portrayals” I’m going to try and point out some documented native headgear that might look a little better than the skunk skin roach.(Btw we all need to whine really loud so that gutchess reprints “portrayals” it was full of great info) And speaking of the Dark Overlord….*****Commercial ALERT!!!!******
If you haven’t already heard The Fort Pitt Museum/Heinz History center is hosting the Eastern Woodland Indian Conference again this year. For anyone interested in native material culture (or just a really great conference on history) I implore you…GO TO THIS CONFERENCE!!!! The Conference is April 28-29 in Pittsburgh ,Pa (home of Fort Pitt, the Stillers and Primanti’s) for more information go to :
So together with all of the other head ware that is out there for native folks maybe the easiest to document and get your hands on is the old standby the headscarf. As I’ve pointed out before there are a ton of different ways to wear a headscarf: pirate style, Like the gentleman in the Italian image, turban style, tupac style, headband style or you can try Steve Jones style circa 1975 (if you don’t know who Steve Jones is then you’re probably not a sex pistols fan hence the joke is lost on you but 4 of you laughed like crazy).
Below I have compiled some quotes showing the use of scarves across the period/regions during the last half of the 18th century

"He wore a brown broadcloth coat, a scarlet damaskin lapel waistcoat,breeches over which his shirt hung, a black cordovan neckerchief decked with silver bugles, shoes and stockings and a hat. His ears hung with pendants of brass and other wires plaited together the handle of a basket." Description of Andrew Montour

“one of them soon struck a tomahawk into his head, and jerked off a piece of scalp about the biggness of a dollar, they took also his indian breeches and a hankerchef he had on his head...." Adair The South east

“Their head is dressed in the best mode, with a black silk handkerchief about it” Rev David Jones 1770’s ohio country

“A large and beautiful silk handkerchief was tied around his head” Johnathan Alder 1780’s ohio country

“one of the Indians had a handkerchief tied about his head…the other had a cocked hat” William Biggs Illinois country 1788

“He took about a yard of black silk…and tied it round my head” Thomas Ridout 1788 captured by Shawnees on the Ohio

“he wore the indian costume, but WITHOUT any ornament and his silk handkerchief while it supplied the place of a hat…” Simon Girty’s dress O.M. Spencer 1790’s ohio

One really kewl thing about headscarves is that a number of them survive and were depicted in some artwork of the period. For someone who cant shave their head this is a pretty good alternative to going bareheaded. It’s also a good way to keep your dome from cooking if you do shave your head.
Now lets put the headscarf into perspective. I’ve attached some prices of common goods at Fort Pitt during the 1760’s. This should give you a better understanding of just how much this common head wrap covered with brooches would have cost compared to goods you’d need to buy to live.
Costs of Goods at Fort Pitt sept 18, 1761
Large Silk Handks 1 buck 1 doe
2 fathem ribbon 1 buck
Silver brooches 1 raccoon (doesn’t list number of brooches)
Ear Bobs 1 doe

1765 Fort Pitt prices
1 brooch 1/6
Linen Handkerchief ‘3/
Cutteau knife 2/
Plain shirt 12/
1 blue stroud 1/2/6
Breechclout 7/6
Jews harp 2/
1lb Tobacco 2/
Looking glass 7/6
2 yds ribbon 2/

Here is an average transaction…something that would have been a common occurrence at Fort Pitt
List of goods bought by “delawares” in one trip
9 bars lead 6 @5….2..6
9 pints gunpowder @4/ ..8.._
1 french matchcoat….12,_
1 pr Half thick Stockings…..5,_
2 cutteau knives @10..1.8…..1/9/2
Peltry Delvired to Delawares received in Barter for the above goods
6 bear skins
13 deer skins

SO this makes one realize just how much the Caldwell headscarf was worth even at the time it was put together. LOL It’s pretty expensive to put together today as well can you say mortgage payment?…some of my friends are sick. I Priced out the Swiss headscarf based on modern prices…your looking at $1700….It is tax refund season lol. Anyhow the resource I recommend if you’re looking to bedazzle your scarf to check out the silverwork from Ward Oles Also keep in mind I havent even really touched on their use by the french or english
Well nows its back to weaving and fighting with the “gingi monster”. I’ve been cranking out a lot of stuff as of late to get ready for the upcoming trade shows. I’ll be set up at Pricket’s Fort at the end of the month and should have some Stroud leggings, clouts and a stroud blanket coat or two in tow. Stay tuned for part two of the head gear I’ve been compiling stuff that covers scalplock size length and common stuff to tie into it.

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