The manner in which Native American women has remained the same, traditionally speaking, through time, with the most commonly displayed basic one or two braids comprising the standard, and with specific placement and ornamentation further serving to define a manner of details, such as marital status, age, social position and more. Often, the precise way in which the hair of both women and men of any tribe is styled will communicate to you about which tribe the individual belongs to. A bit rarer, the women of some tribes distinguished themselves by total signature hairstyles of their very own that were absolutely impossible to confuse as coming from any other originating tribe.
A Few Signature Women’s Tribally-Identified Styles
The Seminole women, for instance, wore one of the oddest forms of hairstyles with their hair wrapped around a flat, disc-shaped board worn on their heads. The Creek and Chickasaw women wore their long, black hair twisted into a variety of styles of buns and topknots. More ornate hairstyles were stiffened by applications of bear grease and clay, and sometimes adding in soot to make the hair appear blacker. The Native American men actually had a good deal more options for wearing their hair, with some even being fully or partially shaven clean.
The Hopi Distinction
Among the Native American tribes known for the more distinctive hairstyles worn by their women, you’ll find the Pueblo Hopis of Arizona, whose form of styling the hair of the tribe’s unmarried women once they became of the age to marry. These were referred to as Squash Blossom Whorls or Butterfly Whorls. The closest thing you could compare them to from today’s culture might be Mickey Mouse Ears. After they married, these women would proceed to regularly wear one single braid down the back. The effects for unmarried Hopi women could get pretty elaborate, with the young woman’s mother winding her daughter’s hair around and around a curved piece of wood. This would give the tightly wound hair a distinctive shape, in different finished sizes, depending on the young lady’s hair volume. After the winding was completed, the wood was removed. To the Hopi Indians, squash blossoms represent fertility, and they hold an annual Soyala winter solstice ceremony, wherein squash blossoms are used as the decorations.
The Hopi Squash Blossom as Inspiration in Broader, Modern American Culture
The elaborate Squash Blossom Whorls have become the source of inspiration behind well-known public imagery. The way Bjork’s hair is eloquently styled on the cover of Homogenic–her album finds its origin from Hopi creativity, and the iconic Princess Leia, whose trademark hairstyle was those two, rather space aged side buns that we can not forget, no matter how hard we may try. Unlike the myriad of ways in which we wear our hair today, the Hopi women, as well as the whole of the Native American Tribal Nation took hair and the exact manner of styling as it varied from tribe to tribe, very seriously, with nothing but meaning behind every element.