In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, North American Indians, especially those of the Woodlands and Eastern Plains, used wool yarn in several complex fingerweaving techniques to make sashes, straps, garters, and headbands ( Turner 1973, 5). In most instances, though, it is almost impossible to determine the precise tribal origin of these works without some sort of additional documentation.
Prehistoric pottery sherds decorated with textile impressions indicate the existence of an extensive weaving tradition in the Southeast before the introduction of European materials ( Milanich and Fairbanks 1980, fig. 33). Either the pottery was marked using fabric-wrapped paddles or impressions were made of large, whole pieces of cloth. For example, sherds of "saltpan" vessels, used for gathering salt, ornamented with impressions taken from large pieces of fabric have been found in Mississippi Culture period sites from the Atlantic coast to Oklahoma ( Drooker 1992, 12-13). There is also evidence that various textile-making techniques were used in the region at least as early as the eighth millennium B.C. and that sophisticated textile production was in place by at least the sixth. As Penelope Drooker has observed, "From small items like sandals and sashes, to bags and garments, to large fishing nets and mats, enough evidence has survived to hint at the magnitude of what has been lost" ( 1992, 9).
Few examples of cloth exist because of the perishable nature of the material, but those that survive confirm that the people used both animal and vegetal fibers for fingerweaving ( Dockstader 1978, 172). The most numerous examples of Mississippian textiles have been found at elite mortuary mound sites in Spiro, Oklahoma, and Etowah, Georgia. Wick-