Cherokee of Tuskeegee

Guidelines for Cherokee Participants:

Cherokee of Tuskegee:
1) Be knowledgeable in the general history of the French and Indian War.
2) Be knowledgeable in Cherokee history, lore and material culture and history of the Cherokee/European interaction.
3) Willing to outfit and equip self to portray a mid 18th century Cherokee man, woman or child.
4) Willing to participate in programs and scenarios.
5) Demonstrate an ability to handle all weapons and tools safely.
6) Willing to set up camp or use house with traditional Cherokee items.

1760: Cherokee Victory at Fort Loudoun

This document is intended to help new and experienced Eastern Woodland and Southeastern Native reenactors prepare to participate in this event as a member of one of the Cherokee towns involved in the taking of Fort Loudoun in 1760. The information outlined here will be the basic guidelines used by the jurying committee when you register.

We will explain the common, everyday items that are expected of participants in this event.  We are striving for a high-quality event that immerses both the public and the reenactor in the experience, so are trying to help everyone fit the specific time, place and event as accurately as possible.  Questions about any of this information may be directed to the Cherokee Victory Yahoo! Group (link available on Fort Loudoun web site)  Note: Safety regulations will be posted separately.  Any stated safety regulation supersedes these guidelines.

Background:

The participants on the native side of this event were Cherokee townspeople (male and female, young and old).  We do not have evidence of European participants, including captive whites, French courier du bois, or children of European-Cherokee marriages that dress “white” participating in this historical event on the Cherokee side.  There is not clear evidence of participants from other native groups either, with the single exception of specific Muscogee people in Chief Mortar’s party.

In general, we expect participants to represent a resident of one of the Overhill Cherokee towns involved in the historic siege, ensuing battle, and aftermath scenarios.  These events took place in close proximity to several Overhill Cherokee towns, but for simplicity’s sake you should assume that you are in a war party for the event.  That means you don’t have to ‘dress up’, making moving from a mid-18th century Iroquois, Shawnee, or Muscogee portrayal much easier, we hope.

 Following is a list of the basic items that you should plan on having/wearing.  Sections are divided into Men, Women, Children, Weapons, and Other Items. 

Men:

Hair: The clearest documentation is for a typical eastern woodland scalplock:

“The hair of their head is shaved, tho’ many of the old people have it plucked out by the roots, except a patch on the hinder part of the head, about twice the bigness of a crown-piece, which is ornamented  with beads, feathers, wampum, stained deer hair, and such like baubles.” (Lt. Henry Timberlake’s Memoirs 1756 – 1765)

For hair decoration, plain feathers, a few strands of beads, or a fingerwoven “hair fob” would be preferred, but a simple deer hair roach works as well.

Other head coverings:  We had prefer that you shave for this event if feasible.  If you cannot wear either a ‘real’ or artificial scalplock, please shave completely, wear your hair long or cover your head with a silk handkerchief for the duration of the event.  Full-head wigs are not acceptable.  Hair color should be dark, so think of ways you can temporarily darken your hair if you are blonde or redheaded.

 Facial and body hair: None visible.

Ears: The most common ear decoration documented through excavations and descriptions is a rather large silver ball and cone earrings, with the bottom of the cone closed.  A few vendors produce these (Ward Oles of At the Eastern Door, for example).  Later wagon wheel or hoop styles or earlier bone plugs are not documented for this period.  Ear slitting was common, so if you have the ability to use prosthetic ear lobes, feel free.

Eyewear:  There are very few documented instances of SE native people acquiring glasses during this time period.  Please wear contacts or do without if you can. No modern eyeglasses permitted during the first person portion of this event.

Nose: Nose rings of the ball and cone or simply captured ball are documented.  These were typically made of silver.  

Shirt: Plain or ruffled white linen trade shirt or checked linen trade shirt.  The check pattern should be one documented to the 18th century.  Blue and ‘white’ checks appear most often on trade lists if a color is mentioned.  The color white seems to include what is commonly called “natural” linen, and obviously would include shirts that showed significant signs of wear.  Callicoes appear on trade lists, but not clearly as items for men’s clothing.  When in doubt, shirts that started off as white are safest.

It will be August in the south, so if you are comfortable without a shirt, that is also a good choice.  You might want to bring sunscreen for the days and a shirt for the evenings, however.

Waist: Southeastern fingerwoven sashes were a common item, and can be very expensive.  Rather than purchase something specifically for this event, plain leather belt with a period buckle is acceptable.  If you don’t need a belt to support a belt knife, it’s cooler to wear none at all.

Breechclout:  A simple 10-14” wide strip of stroud-type wool cloth hanging to about mid-thigh serves well.  Decorations with resist dyed selvages, silk ribbon and/or silver ring brooches are opportunities for individualization.  Red and blue are the most common colors. 

Legs:  Wool or leather (brain tan preferred) side seam leggings with a “three finger” width flap is most common. Leather leggings could have a very narrow (~1”) fringe instead of a flap.  Wool leggings in red or blue, with or without silk ribbon decoration, are inexpensive and easy to make if undecorated. 

The simplest gartering/leg ties would be a strip of leather or wool ‘gartering’.  Fingerwoven or heddle beaded garters are an option for more “dressy” wear.  Wampum and beaded leather leg ties were probably not common in the south. 

Feet: While period hard soled shoes do appear in a few accounts, the preference would be moccasins or barefoot. Moccasins among the Cherokee were the puckered-toe center seam type.  If you need a pattern, please ask on the Yahoo! Group. For this scenario, undecorated leather moccasins are perfect.    Please take the time to make a correct pair if you want to wear moccasins.  You may always go barefoot if you prefer. 

Outerwear:  Woolen matchcoats in red or blue or period documentable blankets.  There is a little evidence of clothing being taken from the garrison, but we will not have sacked the garrison at the beginning of the weekend, so these items won’t be in your possession yet.  Again, it will be August, and over 90 degrees during the day, so you probably won’t want a wool coat anyway.

Other jewelry and decoration: Strands of roughly 6/0 or 8/0 (“pound”) beads are very common in excavations of this area.  The most common color is white, with dark blue, bottle green, black and red  secondary, though other colors are found.  Gorgets, arm bands, bracelets and trade rings are documentable, but probably not needed for this battle scenario.

Paint: Like other Eastern native groups, the colors most often used for body paint were red and black.  Colors such as green, yellow and blue also are noted occasionally.  We are doing a battle-centered event, so full paint on warriors is acceptable through the weekend.  Patterns are your personal preference.

Tattoos: As you know, tattooing in the period was very common, and used specific patterns.  Please refer to external documentation for this information, and plan to cover any non-period-appearing tattoos with clothing, makeup or paint.

Women:

Hair: Again, clear description comes from Timberlake:

“The women wear the hair of their head which is so long that it generally reaches to the middle of their legs, and sometimes to the ground, club’d and ornamented with ribbons of various colors.” (Lt. Henry Timberlake’s Memoirs 1756 – 1765)

You don’t have to grow your hair to the ground, but should club it for the event.  If you have light colored hair, please consider ways you could darken it temporarily.

Ears: The most common ear decoration documented through excavations and descriptions is a rather large silver “ball and cone” earring, with the bottom of the cone closed.  A few vendors produce these (Ward Oles of At the Eastern Door, for example).  Later wagon wheel or hoop styles or earlier bone plugs are not documented for this period. 

Eyewear:  There are very few instances of SE native people acquiring glasses during this time period.  Please wear contacts or do without if you can. No modern eyeglasses permitted during the first person portion of the weekend.

Nose: No evidence of women having pierced noses has been found.

Shirt:  A few more choices exist for women’s upper body clothing than for men’s:, as both trade shirts and chemises were worn, and bed jackets (and similar) were available to wear over them.  A plain or ruffled white linen trade shirt or checked linen trade shirt  or a white linen chemise is a good starting point.  The check pattern should be one documented to the 18th century.  Blue and white checks appear most often on trade lists if a color is mentioned.  The color white seems to include what is commonly called “natural” linen, and obviously would include shirts that showed significant signs of wear. 

Callicoes appear on trade lists as yard goods for “chemises and jackets”, so a period appropriate cotton block print or solid white “callicoe” shirt or chemise would be fine also.  It’s not really clear whether the yard goods were sold directly to the native people or made into clothing first.  Lacking that information, a standard mid 18th century chemise in white linen or callicoe is fine until further information surfaces.

Waist:  A common leather belt with buckle is acceptable.  However, you shouldn’t need a belt to hold a knife or belt bag, so it’s cooler to wear no belt at all, other than the method you use to hold up your skirt.

Wrap Skirt:  A half-width by 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 yard long wide strip of stroud-type cloth makes an excellent wrap skirt.  Red and blue are the most common colors. Decorations with silk ribbon and/or silver ring brooches are acceptable. 

Adair discusses the wrap skirt in his History of the American Indians (page 9):

“The women, since the time we first traded with them, wrap a fathom of the half breadth of Stroud Cloth* round their waist and tie it with a leathern belt, which is commenly covered with brass runners or buckles: but this sort of loose petticoat, reaches only to their hams, in order to shew their exquisitely fine proportioned limbs.”

“Fine proportioned limbs” notwithstanding, this suggests that plain wool is completely acceptable, and certainly easy to accomplish.

Legs:  No leggings are required, nor will you want to wear any in the heat.

Feet:  While period hard soled shoes do appear in a few accounts, the preference would be moccasins or barefoot.
Moccasins among the Cherokee were the puckered-toe center seam type. If you need a pattern, please ask on the Yahoo! Group.  For this scenario, undecorated leather moccasins are perfect.    Please take the time to make a correct pair if you want to wear moccasins.  You may always go barefoot if you prefer. 

Outerwear:  Woolen matchcoats in red or blue or period documentable blankets. 

Other jewelry and decoration: Strands of roughly 6/0 or 8/0 (“pound”) beads are very common in excavations of this area.  The most common color is white, with dark blue, bottle green, black and red  secondary, though other colors are found. Brass (“gilt”) and silver bracelets and trade rings are documentable, but probably not needed for this battle scenario.

Paint:  Unmarried women may have used limited amounts of red paint on their faces, along the hairline or cheeks (either ochre or vermillion).   

Tattoos: As you know, tattooing in the period was very common, and used specific patterns.  Please refer to external documentation for this information, and plan to cover any non-period appearing tattoos.

Things to avoid without documentation:

Belt and neck knives.  There does not seem to be any documentation for women carrying their knives around with them.  Please make a simple sheath and keep the knife in your work bag or basket.

Purses or bags worn on the body for personal items.  A small bag can be tucked into the top of the skirt, out of sight, but there isn’t documentation for small bags worn on a belt or around the neck/arm/shoulders.  You can make a large twined bag, or have a basket to keep your stuff in though.

Children:

Very small children should have a basic “trade” shirt (or chemise if girls) in the above mentioned colors.  Cotton is acceptable in this case, as we understand concerns with clothing small kids.  A diaper (cloth or disposable) is fine under the shirt.  The child can wear moccasins or go barefoot.   They must, however, be in this “period” clothing during the first person portion of the event.

Older children should follow the guidelines for adults.  Boys do not have to shave their heads, but should cover their heads, slick their hair back or keep it in a pony tail if it is long enough, just as any men who do not shave.

Weapons: 

Long guns documentable as used by natives in 1760 are fine.  Smooth bore Trade guns are preferred over  rifles or “captured” military weapons.

Pistols documentable as traded/gifted to natives in 1760 are acceptable, but may not be used during the battle scenarios due to safety reasons.

Edged weapons: Knives and tomahawks/axes should be appropriate for the period, and have a sheath.  Both neck and belt knives are appropriate for men.  Regarding neck knife sheaths:  There is not a clear tradition of quillwork in the south, as we lack porcupines, so large amounts of quillwork are not appropriate.  However, we realize that you likely don’t want to make an unadorned knife sheath just for this event, so will not ‘ding’ you for including this item. 

Women had access to axes and knives, but did not carry them in sheaths at belt/neck that we have been able to document.  A cooking knife, small knife or folding knife in your work bag or basket would be almost a necessity.

War clubs are documented by Adair, Timberlake and others.  These are of the ball head, saber, and gunstock types.

Bows: At least one of the period accounts of the attack mentions “Rains of arrows” as well as shots from firelocks.  If you have a period bow/arrows/quiver that is appropriate for the southeast, you may bring it for display, but may not use it in any ‘battle’.

Powder Horns: You will be required to use cartridges during the event, but may bring your empty powder horn to carry.  As mentioned for other items, decoration that is not clearly from another cultural group is acceptable.   

Shooting bags should be a simple leather pouch or twined bag.  As mentioned, quillwork is not clearly enough discussed in the south for us to recommend a quilled bag, so if you can, construct or purchase a simple leather bag with a thin leather strap is sufficient.  

Other Items:

Pipes: European clay pipes show up by the score in period trade & gift lists and in archaeological digs.  There are also native made clay and stone pipes from the period, but these may be expensive items, so we don’t expect you to purchase them solely for the event.  Please find some period and locale appropriate solution if you smoke.  We will not allow any cigarettes or modern smoking implements during the first person portion of the event.

Mirrors, combs, similar trade items.  Those items common in the north are likely appropriate if not considered unique to a particular area.

Cooking and eating utensils:  wooden and pottery bowls and cups, brass and tin “trade” kettles, and the occasional metal spoon are sufficient for anything you will need to prepare at the event.  Gourds were used extensively as food and water storage containers.  Wooden tripods to suspend pots over the fire are useful. 

Storage and carrying devices:  Baskets, large pottery, large gourds and open-twined bags were commonly used for storing food and goods.  Period glass bottles are acceptable for water/liquid storage.

Sleeping:  blankets as mentioned above, with sleeping mats made of cane or cattail, or animal hide mats are best.

Shelter:   We will have limited shelter available for reenactors on a first come, first served basis. A simple lean to with canvas or mat coverings is acceptable if you had prefer to bring your own.  There are few trees available to use as supports, so plan on using poles.  We will have some poles available for those who are traveling long distances and need them.  Please contact us via the Yahoo! Group to let us know your needs.

Modern Items:  Items that you need that may not have 1760 versions available include medication, shaving kits, personal hygiene items, etc.  If it’s an item you must have, you must keep them out of sight for the duration of the event.

Credits:  This document is based on work done for Fort Toulouse by David Hobbs and Ginger Jones, and upon membership portrayal guidelines published by the living history group “His Majesty’s Southern Department of Loyal Indian Allies “ (Southern Indian Department.)