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Dress

Nez Perce National Historical Park, National Park Service

Nez Perce National Historical Park, National Park Service

Alta Guzman, a Nez Perce elder, said dress makers left the tail intact to identify the kind of animal used, the mountain sheep was preferred. This design element was also a symbol of status. This “tail dress” is made of two large mountain sheep skins that retain their original shape. Two hides are sewn together with the butt end forming the neck and arms and the front shoulders forming the lower end. The edges are cut to form a fringe and tassels are added by punching holes on the lower end and running strips of buckskin lace through. This might be considered an everyday dress except that it is made of mountain sheep. Perhaps it belonged to a younger woman who had not decorated it yet.

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