When one thinks of Native Americans, the picture of an Indian in an elaborate feather-covered headdress often comes to mind. Indians are frequently represented in headdresses on television, in paintings, and in products sold commercially.
Though the exact origin of the Indian headdress is not known, the history of the Indian Headdress is though to have begun with the Sioux tribe. Contrary to what people may think, not all Indians wore headdresses. Only males wore the headdresses, and they were only worn after many deeds of bravery had been done. In order to get a headdress, one first had to collect many feathers. Easy, right? Not so. To get a single feather, men had to complete acts deemed brave or righteous in some way. The first feather was usually not given until a boy had entered adulthood. And getting feathers was no small feat either. One could not get a feather without first going through many days of meditation and fasting. Once the feather had been given to him, he would either wear it in battle or keep it in a safe place. Once he had collected enough feathers, a headdress could be made and worn.
Headdresses varied from individual to individual and from tribe to tribe. Every tribe had a unique headdress style, which distinguished them from other tribes. Made by the warriors closest friends, the headdress was symbolic and special for those who received one.
Hardship, loyalty, and strength enabled select men to receive a Golden Eagle feather. Different than all the others, this feather could be equated to a Nobel Peace Prize today.
Joseph Paige © 2006