Native American Beauty & CULTURE

There is so much history, culture and tradition in the indigenous hair and fashion aesthetic. There are common themes such as flowing hair or long braids, but there are styles, particularly in pre-colonial times that were popular in a particular band or village. For instance, women from southeast tribes often wore their hair in topknots, while southwestern women from tribes such as the Navajo or Pueblo wore their hair in a popular style called a Chongo. Chongo styles involved twisting the hair in an updo placed behind the head and held with tribal ornaments. Men also wore culturally identifying hairstyles. For instance, in Western tribes such as the Sioux, men only cut their hair to show shame or grief. Where eastern tribesmen such as the Iroquois were known for wearing a single lock of hair in the center of the crown known as a scalp-lock. Some wore roaches, which was a stiff runway of hair down the center of the scalp. Southwestern men wore their hair in hair-rolls or what we call dreadlocks today.


We believe that there is no American history without the contributions of Native American people. Let’s explore American history through the lens of hair and fashion and discover how deeply connected the journey of Native American, African American, Latin American and Asian American communities truly are.

Native American, also known as Indigenous Americans, communities includes territories such as Hawaii, and Alaska. There are 574 federally recognized tribes living in the United States.The US Census Bureau classifies non-American Indian natives as Native Hawaiians, Samoans, Chamorros or as Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander.

Native Americans arrived in what we know as the United States about 15,000 years ago or earlier. European colonization introduced disease, war, ethnic cleansing, and enslavement which created a decline in the Native American population in America.

Native American and indigenous people all over the world, have managed to uphold traditions and customs and have also influenced the western world through integration.

The Traditions of NATIVE AMERICANS

Native American hair traditions carry significance importance and connection to identity. Hair in Indigenous culture is sacred to each individual, family and community. For instance, long hair is thought to represent strong cultural identity which in essence encourages self-esteem, self-respect, a sense of belonging and a sense of great pride. Because of the connection to self-respect and pride, grooming practices are extremely important. The care of the hair, dressings and ornamentation is linked to family and tribal values but is also a form of self-expression. Even at pow-wows and special ceremonies, it is common to see family and friends in indigenous communities grooming and styling each other’s hair, which is also a time to bond and reinforce relationships. Even braiding practice is tied to community values.

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