Origin of Ceremonial Costume
One may well suppose that in prehistoric days the Indian made a special garment, the duplicate of his regular dress, which he put aside with great care to be worn only on those special occasions when he worshiped his gods. To make the garment more beautiful he probably whitened the firm cloth with powdered white clay and painted it with colors which seemed to him beautiful and which, in his mind, were associated with beautiful things. When he dressed in this costume, he would perhaps ornament it with a gay feather dropped by a passing bird or a flower newly bloomed by his doorstep. Evergreen branches made fitting tribute to gods eternal, and added color and beauty to the general scheme, so he may have placed them in his belt, or made wreaths for his shoulders, or carried them as bouquets in his hands. These customs doubtless endured for centuries. Then the Spaniards came, strong, hard men who ruled and killed. They were clothed from head to foot, making their bodies safe from many hardships. Through the years which followed, the Indian men began to copy the dress of the invaders. They had not the fine fabrics of the foreigners,
but they fashioned imitative garments from the clothes which they made. However, this did not change the costume set aside for the dance worship. In this the Indian continued as before, dressing as his gods had known him whenever he had sought their aid.
Then came drought and with it a state of great distress. Food was scarce, feathers became difficult to obtain, and animals went farther afield and could not be hunted down. We may assume that laxness in worship was held to be the reason for all these calamities, and the Indian then tried very hard to costume himself exactly as had his forefathers, so that the gods would be pleased and life would again be filled with plenty. The old priests surely remembered what colors were used and where the needled spruce was to be found. These things, they must have reasoned, the gods would like to see restored. They probably tried each magical arrangement, and when one brought success that arrangement became the rule. Even today, when the prayer drama is not successful and the reviving and cooling rain does not fall, they believe it is because something is amiss in the ceremony and the Great Ones are displeased. A chant may have been omitted, the colors may have run on a mask, or a man may not have been faithful to his vow of continence during the retreat.