Throughout history Native American people have worn their hair in various ways from tribe to tribe, often meaning different things for each tribe. For many native people, long hair symbolizes power, physical strength, and masculinity in males. Long hair most often represents a healthy pride and a strong cultural identity. In most tribal cultures, men and women are encouraged to grow their hair
There is also significance in the way the hair is worn. There is usually a way to wear the hair for many ceremonies and dances. There are sometimes even special ceremonies for the first haircut, but afterward, let it grow. Many native people will cut their hair when there is a death in the immediate family as a representation of their sorrow that physically displays loss. The cut hair represents the time with their loved one, which is over and gone, and the new growth is the life after.
For many Native Americans, braided hair signifies unity with the infinite, and allowing the hair to flow freely symbolizes the free flow of life. It is sometimes believed that long hair in Native American culture physically represents the growth of the spirit, which some say permits heightened perception and connection to all things.
“More often, Quapaw men shaved their heads except for a scalp-lock (one long lock of hair in back) and wore a porcupine roach on top, and Quapaw women wore their hair either loose or braided,” said Orrin Lewis on www.bigor-rin.org
The porcupine hair roach is often made of the guard hair of the porcupine, the tail hair of the white-tail deer, moose hair, or artificial stiff hair; often, the hair is dyed a bright color, such as red or yellow, which can symbolize a veteran of combat.
For Quapaw people, there are a variety of ways hairstyles are worn today. In a joint article on www.archeology.uark.edu, Carrie Wilson and George Sabo III state that in earlier years, “Married women wore their hair loose, but unmarried women wore braids rolled into coils fastened behind each ear and decorated with ornaments.”
We would love to see your Native style, past or present! Share a photo of yourself or a family member’s hairstyle at The Quapaw Post Facebook account.