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Hair - The Indian's hair was his pride and joy.  some believed, too that hair was in some way connected with the mystery of life, and were careful to let none of their hair fall into enemy hands.  It was believed that the enemy, being in possession of the hair, would have power to hurt the owner, and so all hair combings were burned.

The Indian's hair was glossy and of a bluish or brownish black.  When bleached by the sun it turned a rusty hue.  Indians never suffered from baldness, and what few hairs they had on their faces or bodies they pulled out.

Both men and women gave a lot of attention to their hair.  Bear fat was a favorite dressing and men sometimes mixed it with soot to make the hair blacker.

Those of the eastern tribes usually cut their hair close on the sides of their heads, leaving a ridge from the forehead to the back of the neck.  The top part was trimmed like a pompadour, but the scalp lock was allowed to grow long, and was braided down the back and decorated with shells, or metal or stone ornaments.  The ridge on top often contained a roach of deer bristles, dyed red.

many tribes got their names from the way they wore their hair.  The Pawnee, for instance, had a ridge from the forehead to the crown, with the scalp lock separated in a small circle, and this hair was parted off and stiffened with paint and fat.  It stood up like a horn, and so the tribe got its name from an Indian word meaning "horn."

The Dakota, like other Plains Indians, parted their hair in the middle, back to a circle forming the scalp lock on the crown of the head and then down the back from the scalp lock to the nape of the neck.  the scalp lock was braided.  the rest of the hair was braided separately on both sides and wrapped with beaver or otter skin and allowed to hang down on the chest.  The line or part was painted red.

The Nez Percè and other far western tribes usually wore their hair long and unbraided.  the Pueblo men cut their "bangs," and in some ceremonies wore wigs of black wool and bangs of dyed horsehair.

Indian women wore their hair differently from men.  they took pride in their long hair and some of them did their hair up in the back in the shape of a beaver's tail.  many changed the way of wearing their hair after marriage.  For instance, before marriage Hopi girls dressed their hair in big circles on each side, in the form of the squash flower.  After marriage they wore it in a single braid.

In mourning for the dead, Indians sometimes wore their hair unbraided and other times chit it off.  The Crow, Assiniboin, Mandan, Mojave, and Yuma often wore false hair.

Related Information within this Site
[ Bear ][ Hopi ][ Iroquois ][ Paint ][ Scalp Lock ][ Women ]