Indian Use of Hair

Search Fold3 for your
Native American Records

Indian Use of Hair – One of the most useful materials known to the Indians of the United States was hair, which, as a textile material, was generally more available than vegetal fibers. Hair w y as obtained from the dog, buffalo, mountain sheep, mountain goat, moose, deer, reindeer, elk, antelope, opossum, rabbit, beaver, otter, lynx, and other animals, and human hair was also sometimes employed.

In more modern times horsehair was used to stuff balls, drumsticks, dolls, pads, pillows, etc., and tufts of it, frequently dyed, were attached as ornaments to costumes, pouches, harness, ceremonial objects, etc. False hair was worn by the Crows, Assiniboin, Mandan, Mohave, and Yuma; and ceremonial wigs of black wool and bangs of natural or dyed hair, especially horsehair, were made by the Pueblos. Twisted or sometimes braided into cord, hair had a most extensive use, satisfying the multifarious demands for string or rope of great tensile strength, and was combined with other fibers in the warp or weft of textiles and basketry. According to Grinnell cow skin pads stuffed with the hair of elk, antelope, buffalo, or mountain sheep were commonly used instead of saddles by some of the Plains tribes in running buffalo and in war. Bourke (9th Rep. B. A. E., 474, 1892) says that mantles made of votive hair are mentioned as having been in use among the Lower California or southern California tribes in the 18th century, and quotes Parkman (Jesuits in North America, lxxxiv, 1867) to the effect that the Algonquians believed in a female manito who wore a robe made of the hair of her victims, for she caused death. See Adornment, Featherwork, Hair dressing, Quillwork. Consult Holmes in 13th Rep. B. A. E., 25, 37, 1896. (W. H.)

MLA Source Citation:

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906. Web. 19 December 2014. - Last updated on Jul 18th, 2012


Contribute to the Conversation!

Our "rules" are simple. Keep the conversation on subject and mind your manners! If this is your first time posting, we do moderate comments before we let them appear... so give us a while to get to them. Once we get to know you here, we'll remove that requirement.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Newsletter Signup

We currently provide two newsletters. Why not take both for a run?

Genealogy Update: We send out this newsletter whenever we feature a new, or significantly updated, collection or database on our website.

Circle of Nations: We send out this newsletter whenever we feature a new (or significantly updated) Native American collection or database on our website.

Once you've clicked on the Subscribe button above you'll receive an email from us requesting confirmation. You must confirm the email before you will be able to receive any newsletter.

Connect With Us!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!