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Old 04-11-2009, 11:15 AM   #1
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Hair Roach Spreader

“A ‘roach spreader’ is usually worn with the (hair roach) headdress. They are sometimes beautifully carved and decorated, and are made of bone or silver”...“It is inserted inside the long fringes of the headdress, spreading them outward in some cases; hence the name ‘spreader’.”
(Howard, 1958, p. 91)

The early carved and painted elk shoulder-blade or elk antler spreaders had a piece of hollow wing bone from a golden eagle attached toward the front, to hold the roach feather. Today, reproductions of this style are frequently made from cow shoulder-blade and a hollow chicken leg bone.

Since the beginning of the 1900s, the roach spreader has often been made of eastern trade-silver, also known as German-silver with tooled or stamped design work. Although many commercially available trade-silver spreaders seen today have two “sockets” for holding the tail or roach feathers, typically these would be for other dance styles such as modern traditional or fancy feathers outfits.

Traditionally, the Omaha/Ponca Hethuska, Osage Inlonska, Pawnee Iruska dancers used a roach spreader with only one socket.

In either the bone or the silver style, when a roach spreader is used with the hair roach, it is traditionally held in place by inserting the same lock of braided hair which holds the hair roach headdress in place, through a hole in the front part of the spreader, usually just behind the feather socket. Then a long pin of carved bone or wood is thrust through the braid, locking the hair roach and the spreader to the head.

If a man’s hair is not long enough to provide a braid, a thong or string is tied to the pin and after passing through the holes in the spreader and hair roach, the thongs are brought around each side of the head and tied under the chin. The tail end of the hair roach headdress will often times have another set of thongs to tie around the neck to hold it firmly in place.

Some examples of bone or antler spreaders. (Some with and some without sockets.):


























(Early German-silver roach spreader.)


Howard, Dr. James H.
1958. The Roach Headdress. American Indian Tradition Newsletter, Vol. 5.
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Old 01-25-2010, 03:06 PM   #2
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:50 PM   #3
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