The Tolowa are an Athapaskan group connected to the Hupa, Chilula and Whilkut of northern California who suffered greatly after first contact with white Americans after 1850.

In hot weather men went completely naked, or they sometimes wore an apron or kilt of deerskin or fur. Rarely a poncho or cape was added.

Women wore the typical double-apron arrangement of the region – a front apron of plant fibres (bear grass), a back apron of deer hide. High status was indicated by wearing both aprons of deerskin. The upper body was not covered. Aprons could be decorated with fringes, bits of obsidian, abalone shell, shell or bone beads and pine nuts.

Moccasins were not usually worn except for long journeys or in winter. Cloaks were of deer or elk hide.

Photographs taken in the late 19th/early 20th centuries show dance costumes, with the women wearing non-traditional blouses that were imposed by prudish white culture and were definitely not part of traditional Tolowa dress.

See links below for images: