What materials/fibers did the American Indians use to make cloth?

How do you make woven “cloth” without a fixed loom like the American Indians did in making blankets and such?

Those blankets were government issue from the U.S. Army, once the tribes were beaten into submission and confined to reservations. Same with frybread: it didn’t become Indian food until they were confined to reservations, couldn’t hunt any more, and had to figure out what to do with the government-issue flour that was all they had left to survive on.

You are perpetuating ignorance, Jomo. Southwest Indians were weaving blankets ands other cloth long before European contact:

The Birth and Growth of the Art of Navaho Blanket-Waving

Native Americans used leather for the most part. Woven textiles did not appear until well after the European settlers had become widespread. See this link for a brief, but interesting, desription of some of the techniques used for traditional clothing manufacture.

I don’t know about Native American weaving per se, but there are lots of kinds of weaving that can be done without our modern floor looms. There are folks in South America that still weave on back-strap looms. In back-strap loom weaving, the warp threads (the ones that run the length of a piece of cloth) are measured out and then one (or both) ends are tied to straight pieces of wood. The far end is tied to a fixed object (e.g., a tree) and the is held at each end by a belt or strap that goes around the weaver’s back (hence, back-strap). This enables the weaver to change the tension easily by leaning forward or back.

The Navaho people use frame looms to weave their blankets. Their looms are essentially big square frames of wood, with the warp threads wound round and round the long axis.

Other early looms (in Norther Europe, I think) had weighted warps. The warp threads were hung over a horizontal bar and the tension was provided by rocks (or other weights) at the opposite ends.

And for narrow pieces (belts, tump-lines, etc) finger weaving works pretty well.

Archergal, spinner & occasional weaver


With regard to the materials used:

The use of looms also predates European contact:

Sorry, I goofed. Should have checked before posting.

The natives of the Pacific Northwest bred extra wooly dogs and used their fur much like wool for weaving. They also wove a surprising number of things, including clothes, from cedar bark.

Even neolithic people made cloth. It wasn’t 500 count linen but it isn’t all that hard to do.