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Wolfn
April 16th, 2010, 11:46 PM
Hello everyone. As I stated in my introduction thread, I'm a Native American male who is getting in touch with my heritage. One of the ways I'm doing this is by growing my hair long, and hopefully it will be a ponytail eventually. However, I'm not exactly sure why Native Americans grew their hair long. I think it was because they believed long hair was a part of you and it almost had a soul, but I think I'm probably wrong. Can anyone help me understand why Native Americans grow hair long?

Athena's Owl
April 16th, 2010, 11:57 PM
it depends on the clan/tribe.

you probably want to find out which nation you're a part of and look at their traditions, as much as still remain after so much effort to eradicate NDN cultures.

Wolfn
April 17th, 2010, 12:04 AM
it depends on the clan/tribe.

you probably want to find out which nation you're a part of and look at their traditions, as much as still remain after so much effort to eradicate NDN cultures.

I'm Cree Indian

formunkyfrommom
April 17th, 2010, 12:16 AM
not really an answer but i know the native americans where i live save all of their hair when they get a haircut and do a burning ritual later in the day because they believe their enemies can use their hair in negative rituals and curses and things like that against them, they believe the hair is a powerful part of your body and important enough to keep very safe from their enemies......as a hairdresser you learn interesting things i tell ya!

this thread on yahoo answers has some ideas....some of the answers are junk but some of them are good :)
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080413160913AArQ8C0

FrannyG
April 17th, 2010, 07:27 AM
I don't know anyone who belongs to the Cree Nation, but I know people from others, as I live fairly close to the Six Nations Reserve in Southern Ontario. Many residents or former residents from there work and/or live in the city in which I reside.

The way it has been described to me by Native friends (of different Nations) is that long hair represents strength of the spirit. Every inch gained, is that much more strength.

I read a great article on the subject on the Internet a couple of years ago, but I can't seem to find it. If I do, I'll come back with the link. :)

lindenblossom
April 17th, 2010, 10:37 AM
Hi, Wolfn, and welcome to LHC! :)

This is a great topic, and it points out that most cultures have had specific attitudes and rituals towards hair, all over the world. Only in very recent times (within the last century or so) has hair become simply a commodity for the sake of appearance, accessorizing, etc. I think those who try to grow and keep their hair long today begin to recognize hair as something more than superficial (after all, many of us don't even show off the length since we wear it up or in braids almost all of the time). It becomes something sacred, in a way, and I wish this idea had never been lost in popular culture.

The point is, it's never just "hair".

Good luck with what you find out about the Cree customs regarding hair!

Capybara
April 17th, 2010, 10:53 AM
I'm not sure if this applies to your tribe, but a while ago I heard that some Native American tribes would grow their hair without cutting it before marriage, then cut it with their spouse's to signify the beginning of their journey together.

Whether this is true or not, I don't know, but it may be worth looking into :)

Frying Pan Paul
April 17th, 2010, 06:10 PM
Great decision and you'll get a lot of thumbs up for this. This may be unrelated to your thread, but I was told once that first nations people oiled their hair with bear oil and that they have used jojoba oil for hundreds of years!

GuinevereMay
April 17th, 2010, 06:57 PM
My son is Omaha through his father, although his father is not a part of his life. I should probably start doing some research into the tribe so that he knows at least a little bit about were he comes from.

I think the tribe kept their hair short, but I'm not 100% sure. I know pictures I saw of tribe members showed them with short, spiky hair.

Purdy Bear
April 18th, 2010, 04:15 AM
The way it has been described to me by Native friends (of different Nations) is that long hair represents strength of the spirit. Every inch gained, is that much more strength.
:)


That was what I was taught as a child. Im English but have Native American/Canadian on my Dads side somewhere. I thought it was probably something like Samson and Delilha

I also think they do something similar with nails (keeping them in the little leather pouch they carry) or burning them.

o0sarah0o
April 22nd, 2010, 03:06 AM
I was at a lecture once at university held by a Native American woman. She said that in her tribe they don't cut their hair at all, only during mourning, so when somebody died.

An other woman (not Native American) said to me that I should have long hair because long hair is a connection with the cosmos. (I'm on my way...). So maybe that Native Americans have the same sort of reasons.

Seanymph
April 22nd, 2010, 09:34 PM
I think it's different for each tribe.The Lakota believe that the longer the hair, the stronger the spirit. Long hair for Navajos signify knowledge. The longer your hair is signifies how long you have lived and the amount of knowledge you have acquired. I believe hair only gets cut when they're in mourning.

Mariah!!
April 22nd, 2010, 09:41 PM
I looked it up and found some stuff for you

1. this is about the answere to your Q
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080730161713AA8tf84

2. This is a site about native americans and resources
http://www.native-languages.org/

3. This is a site about the same as number 2, but a different one.
http://www.native-net.org/na/native-american-rain-dance.html

Aleria
April 23rd, 2010, 01:28 AM
I'm not 100% sure of the reason, but I know that in my Nation (Wuikinuxv, Northwest coast), it's tradition to cut some/almost all of your hair when a close family member dies.

Gypsy
April 23rd, 2010, 01:39 AM
I'm Cree Indian

Are you part of the tribe? Like, are you an enrolled member? You should have plenty of information through your tribal information and heritage centers.
Tribes want to preserve their heritage as much as possible, so there is usually someone within the tribe with the answers.

LaineRB
April 23rd, 2010, 04:48 PM
Like others have stated hair styles and traditions regarding hair very from tribe to tribe and just as in modern times not every man or woman wore their hair long. I know more about traditional hair styles than I do about the meanings behind them and I will explain what I do know in regards to the two different traditions my parents come from.

My mother is Tiwa(Pueblo Native) and long hair amongst men is very common to this day. Traditionally it is worn as two braids that would hang down the front side of their shoulders and chest and would have been adorned with either leather strings pre-contact or colored ribbons post-contact Pueblo runners especially wore their hair in braids since they did not come undone as easily as buns. Buns also are fairly common and in general it is very rare that you would see a Pueblo man(boys being an exception) with his hair down(especially in public) as that would be considered more feminine though hair tied back in a pony tail would be considered okay..

Women would have been more likely to wear their hair down or back in a single braid though the hair styles worn by men would have also been considered appropriate, but would most likely have not decorated their braids with ribbons as men would, a traditional women's hair cut would be to have bangs to the eyes and then having the hair cut back to the ears and then long in the back.
I can't add too much detail as to the purpose of this out of lack of knowledge, but I will ask my mom when she is back in town.

My father is Tlingit and the tradition of long hair has not survived in the same way that it has in my mother's tribe(traditions in general being more observed by them), but still hair traditionally would have been worn long and some men today still wear it long. Typically hair would have been worn in a top knot by both men and women where as hair simply flowing freely would have been reserved for spirtual medicine healers(either male or female) or warriors. Some Tlingit shamans would have made dread locks by using tree sap and twisting their hair to form the dreads. Women to this day grow their hair long for carvers to use them in masks and totemic art forms I don't see a reason why a man couldn't do the same, but generally speaking the mother or wife of a carver will grow their hair out for this purpouse.

I will post more later if I get the chance and ask a few elder members of our communities about it.

LaineRB
April 23rd, 2010, 04:50 PM
Also, amongst my mom's tribe hair would be cut at death and buried with the individual.

LaineRB
April 23rd, 2010, 04:54 PM
Oh yes, and I forgot the secret to long beautiful Tlingit hair and that would have been ooligan oil and lots of it!

Wolfn
April 23rd, 2010, 10:19 PM
Are you part of the tribe? Like, are you an enrolled member? You should have plenty of information through your tribal information and heritage centers.
Tribes want to preserve their heritage as much as possible, so there is usually someone within the tribe with the answers.

I'm actually not enrolled because I'm adopted and my birth mom (who is Indian) is adopted. We have paperwork saying that we're Indian, but we don't know 100% what tribe is exactly. However, we're 95% sure it's Cree. If not Cree, then it's Ojibwa.

Gypsy
April 26th, 2010, 12:35 AM
I'm actually not enrolled because I'm adopted and my birth mom (who is Indian) is adopted. We have paperwork saying that we're Indian, but we don't know 100% what tribe is exactly. However, we're 95% sure it's Cree. If not Cree, then it's Ojibwa.

Hmm.
What about the agency that handled the adoption? Maybe they have the info?
It's so hard to pinpoint that stuff- believe me, I know:rolleyes: but maybe the agency is the place to start.
You know that your birth mom was adopted, so you have at least some info from somewhere, so maybe where you got that info may help you, too.

Grey
April 27th, 2010, 03:59 AM
Like everyone else said, it is different for each tribe but I am part Native as well. I'm mostly Cherokee but I have at least one or two other tribes in me. If I remember correctly, the Cherokee styled their hair for the same reasons that we do. Just because they liked it and it was symbolic of their inner selves. Some even kept theirs short and shaved, tonsures and stuff like that. It wasn't a big deal. But they would almost always cut it when they were mourning. Other tribes had long hair because it symbolized strength of your spirit and your wisdom.

gthlvrmx
July 23rd, 2011, 08:50 PM
I'm actually not enrolled because I'm adopted and my birth mom (who is Indian) is adopted. We have paperwork saying that we're Indian, but we don't know 100% what tribe is exactly. However, we're 95% sure it's Cree. If not Cree, then it's Ojibwa.

Well, i agree with Gypsy, try to get in touch with them. Maybe also try looking for Cree and Ojibwa reservations around? Im sure you could try talking to them there.
Gosh this thread is already over a year old, hopefully you did get answers about your specific heritage and hair traditions. :)

Audrey Horne
July 23rd, 2011, 09:29 PM
An other woman (not Native American) said to me that I should have long hair because long hair is a connection with the cosmos.
It's something I've heard many times in Eastern Europe... I can't wait to be connected :)
This thread is so interesting...

gthlvrmx
July 23rd, 2011, 10:41 PM
It's something I've heard many times in Eastern Europe... I can't wait to be connected :)
This thread is so interesting...
I cant seem to find much online, it's extremely interesting for me as well :D

QueenJoey
July 23rd, 2011, 11:02 PM
Hmm, this is an interesting thread! I myself am 1/4 Blackfoot Indian, but I've never felt a connection to that part of me, as my dad didn't meet his dad (the one who makes me Native American) until he was 18, and he doesn't come around all that much.

I would like to learn about the traditions, especially if they give me an actual logical reason for wanting long hair.

Audrey Horne
July 23rd, 2011, 11:08 PM
I cant seem to find much online, it's extremely interesting for me as well :D
Must be especially interesting for you. I hope to educate myself here on another cultures :D But I haven't found much as well :(
Sometimes I think that hair isn't just hair... Occultists use it for various practices. I don't practice but I knew someone who did. And my great grandmother was a "healer" (not a commercial one, she never took money) and she had floor length hair as my grandmother said (I'm totally proud of it). I never really thought of hair before in a way I do now. I think I just start to "see" it.
Yes, and don't let your shed/cut hair fall on the floor because you'll have a headache :D

gthlvrmx
July 23rd, 2011, 11:22 PM
Must be especially interesting for you. I hope to educate myself here on another cultures :D But I haven't found much as well :(
Sometimes I think that hair isn't just hair... Occultists use it for various practices. I don't practice but I knew someone who did. And my great grandmother was a "healer" (not a commercial one, she never took money) and she had floor length hair as my grandmother said (I'm totally proud of it). I never really thought of hair before in a way I do now. I think I just start to "see" it.
Yes, and don't let your shed/cut hair fall on the floor because you'll have a headache :D

Wow!! That's amazing! That is so inspiring for me, i've always wanted to be the guy with the magic plants that can heal you from his lil pouch of natures secrets :)
You'll get headaches?! That explains everything then.:p


Hmm, this is an interesting thread! I myself am 1/4 Blackfoot Indian, but I've never felt a connection to that part of me, as my dad didn't meet his dad (the one who makes me Native American) until he was 18, and he doesn't come around all that much.

I would like to learn about the traditions, especially if they give me an actual logical reason for wanting long hair.

That's great! Native pride!! You just reminded me of my ex bestie who was african american that was part Irish, she claimed to have Blackfoot ancestry. Well, i saw a documentary on African-americans and their ancestry and that a common myth is when they say, my great gran-whatever was part cherokee/blackfoot. The most common ones, and they tried getting down to the genetic truth to it and found out a majority of them have no traces of native american in them, instead, they had more Caucasian in their blood! It was a fun documentary, finding out your roots can be mind-boggling. Just a random note :P

I have a few native american friends that i am going to ask on hair traditions, i will report back later!

gthlvrmx
July 24th, 2011, 05:31 PM
My friend is native american and a part of a tribe, she's a mix of different tribes, the main one is couer d'alene in the NorthWest of the US. Overall, she says both men and woman have to wear their hair long and only cut to shoulder length when a family/friend/spouse dies. The men nowadays usually wear it naturally down or in a braid, the woman braid it as well. They were beads, hair jewelery, and feathers to represent the wealth they have over others because they are coastal tribes, they had more shells than anything, so it guess they had to trade with tribes from far away places to get them. She also says they think longer hair makes them more "attractive". They don't cut it because it's all natural and they are for that, only out of respect for anothers death will they cut.

flourish
July 24th, 2011, 05:45 PM
My dad was Chickasaw and his mother still tells me stories about going to her grandma's house and listening to her speak Chickasaw and brush her hip-length hair; of how that was always the ultimate example of feminine beauty to her. Personally I don't know the exact reason why long hair was important---it was just what you did. My grandmother always said you were trying to pass as white when you cut your hair and going back to your tribe when you grew it out.

Personally I'm growing my hair long because it makes me feel connected to that part of my heritage.

gthlvrmx
July 24th, 2011, 10:06 PM
My dad was Chickasaw and his mother still tells me stories about going to her grandma's house and listening to her speak Chickasaw and brush her hip-length hair; of how that was always the ultimate example of feminine beauty to her. Personally I don't know the exact reason why long hair was important---it was just what you did. My grandmother always said you were trying to pass as white when you cut your hair and going back to your tribe when you grew it out.

Personally I'm growing my hair long because it makes me feel connected to that part of my heritage.
:) That's great flourish! Connecting back to your roots is good

JellyBene
July 24th, 2011, 10:30 PM
Well I am totally white but my boyfriend is Native American and I go to the village all the time with him and most people there do have long hair, however, some keep it short just out of preference. I have not heard them speak of any special significance of their hair being long other than it is just how they like it. We must also realize that not everyone CAN grow long hair and honestly I have never seen a Native America with bad hair (so jealous!), so maybe they grow it long because they simply can!
Also in response to the possible theories of cutting hair when someone close dies, I know at least in my boyfriend's tribe this is not the case because they recently lost a very close uncle and everybody's hair remained long.

IanB
July 25th, 2011, 04:07 AM
Hello everyone. As I stated in my introduction thread, I'm a Native American male who is getting in touch with my heritage. One of the ways I'm doing this is by growing my hair long, and hopefully it will be a ponytail eventually. However, I'm not exactly sure why Native Americans grew their hair long. I think it was because they believed long hair was a part of you and it almost had a soul, but I think I'm probably wrong. Can anyone help me understand why Native Americans grow hair long?

HI Wolfn, Sorry to say, I don't now the answer to your question, but thanks for such and interesting post. I'm interested to read any answers and theories as I am a great admirer of the Native North American People. Good Luck, Ian

ktani
July 25th, 2011, 04:58 AM
I wish you the best with connecting to your tribe or nation.

Here is some information on the Cree people, http://www.native-languages.org/cree_culture.htm

taken from this page, http://www.native-languages.org/home.htm

Some traditional hairstyles, http://www.native-languages.org/hair.htm

These pages are all connected and very interesting, http://www.native-languages.org/languages.htm