'Naked' Indians? That depends....


Repeatedly, early Spanish chronicles mention the conquistadors finding Indian tribes where they described the men and women as "naked." But were they? Sometimes maybe, but it becomes clear that the Europeans often considered anyone not covered in clothes like themselves as naked.
     Overdressed Spaniards had a sense of clothing that a "civilized" person should wear. For example, perhaps the Ópata men in chapter 13 were indeed naked. But maybe the men wore a breechcloth and moccasins, clothing  so minimal that the Spaniards still described them as naked. At the same time they did not criticize the women because Ópata women wore deerskins, cotton blankets, and buffalo robes.
     In the "Narrative of Alarcón's Voyage," Alarcón reported Indian men wearing breechcloths and Indian women wearing feather skirts covering their genitals, but he nevertheless still referred to them as being "naked."
     What would they think of today's swimsuits for men and women on every American beach? 

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.