When people heard about Native American headdresses, the first thing that comes to their mind is the full eagle-feather headdress such as the Lakota Sioux headdress. In reality, Native Americans in most tribes did not use feather headdresses. The best known Native American headdresses are the feathered warbonnets but they were not used frequently because there are a lot of headdresses that Native Americans used.
Types of Native American Headdresses
Native American Warbonnets. These are the notable feather headdresses that we usually see in movies and TV shows. Although these are the well-known type of Native American headdresses, only a few of the Indian tribes wore the war bonnets such as the Great Plains, Sioux, Blackfeet, Crow, Cheyenne, and Plains Cree. The three kinds of warbonnets were the trailer warbonnet, the halo warbonnet, and the straight-up warbonnet. All these three kinds were made of Golden Eagle’s tail feathers where each feather should be earned through good deed or an act of bravery. The warbonnets were an important ceremonial symbol that only chiefs and warriors can wear. Only men were allowed to wear war bonnets.
Roach Headdresses. The roach headdresses, also known as porcupine roaches, were the most commonly used among the Native American headdresses. These native headdresses were made of animal hair such as the porcupine hair, moose hair, and the deer’s tail hair. Roach headdresses were often worn by dancers and warriors. Like warbonnets, roach headdresses were traditionally worn by men. This was used differently from tribe to tribe. Native American tribes used roach headdresses in battle, dance regalia, or sports events.
Basket Hats. These were the most common Native American headdresses among the tribes of the Rocky Mountains. Indian tribes made various basket hats in different styles and shapes. In some tribes, basket hats were usually worn by women and girls and the designs were mostly decorative. On the Northwestern Coast, both genders wore basket hats for dance ceremonial purposes and dance regalia. Their hats often conveyed details about their clan, status or achievements.
Feather Headbands. Unlike the other Native American headdresses, feather headbands were worn by both men and women and they were not associated with wars. The type and number of feather did not have special symbolic meaning although, in some tribes, Eagle feathers were saved for warriors. Some tribes wore the feather headdress for beauty and decorations such as intricate patterns, quillwork, beads, and wampum were added.
Buffalo Headdress. Buffalo headdresses were usually worn by warriors. Buffalo headdresses were made using buffalo’s horns, fur, and tail. This type of headdress was important for ceremonial and spiritual celebrations. Only well-known male warriors wore buffalo headdress. Only a few Native Indians wore this horned headdress because only a few tribes used this and only warriors of particular clans or people who had accomplished brave deeds can wear bison horns.
Otter Fur Turbans. These are headdresses worn by men during ceremonies. Otter Fur turbans were round hats made using otter fur and otter tail. The turbans were usually decorated with beads and paints to symbolize the owner’s war honors. Otter fur turbans were formal headdresses that had a very symbolic significance. They were usually worn during ceremonies or other occasions. Warriors going into battles could not wear otter fur turbans. Today, these headdresses are worn during formal occasions of the Native American tribes.