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