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Forum Home - Go Back > General > Native Life What is the meaning behind a Native growing hair long? What is the meaning behind a Native growing hair long?

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Old 12-05-2010, 03:40 PM   #41
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Old 12-08-2010, 03:36 AM   #42
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I don't think for most it was spiritual to have the long hair... just you can't wear braids or some decorations in short hair. Sometimes the hairstyle identified your nationality. But the cutting off of indian hair by boarding schools and such was a spirit breaker because we were proud of our good looks and our beautiful hair and by them cutting it off it was saying now you are just like us and not the stinky ugly savage you used to be. And getting hair cut is such a personal thing too... Just this past spring I decided to just do it and got my hair cut above the shoulder (slightly) and donated to locks of love 17 inches of braided black hair. Im sure there's a sweet child out there now with a pretty wig but I was regretting it a week later and decided to grow it back out then and there. besides.. I got a shag haircut and had NO CLUE how to style it so it's just been in this little pony tail ever since.....lol
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Old 12-08-2010, 12:13 PM   #43
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The rationale for growing long hair lies in tribal tradition contraints, family history and personal preference.

In recent times, Natives serving in correctional institutions have challenged the legality of mandatory short hair. In some cases, the First Amendment of the Constitution, specifically the Free Excercise Clause prohibiting government from interfering with a person’s practice of his or her religion, has been used as an argument for allowing Native incarcerated to maintain long hair.

As far as the military is concerned, 11 Natives with long hair are recepients of the Medal of Honor.
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Old 12-08-2010, 03:30 PM   #44
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I think JD shold post a pic of his hair so we can have a hair contest eeeeeeeeeeeee
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Old 12-08-2010, 07:32 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by WhoMe View Post
The rationale for growing long hair lies in tribal tradition contraints, family history and personal preference.

In recent times, Natives serving in correctional institutions have challenged the legality of mandatory short hair. In some cases, the First Amendment of the Constitution, specifically the Free Excercise Clause prohibiting government from interfering with a person’s practice of his or her religion, has been used as an argument for allowing Native incarcerated to maintain long hair.

As far as the military is concerned, 11 Natives with long hair are recepients of the Medal of Honor.
I was under the impression ( and was always taught ) that if and when someone was convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison , they no longer had their civil rights. Wondering now when that changed ???
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Old 12-08-2010, 09:12 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by wardancer View Post
I was under the impression ( and was always taught ) that if and when someone was convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison , they no longer had their civil rights. Wondering now when that changed ???
Most states will not allow a felon to vote, but that may be changing in the near future, that's voting rights.

Some penal institutions have allowed sweat lodges to be built, according to the Native spiritual practices of inmates. That's affirmation of their civil right to practice their traditions.

Technically, a prisoner still has most civil rights, only that they are living under a sentence with specific terms of limitations; right of movement, submission to search of their person and possessions, etc.

Plenty of old school prison guards have gone to prison themselves for violating prisoners' civil rights.
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Old 12-09-2010, 01:51 AM   #47
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To add to the excellent post above, prisoners have their rights limited but not extinguished.

Up here in Canuckistan, the federal penitentiaries have allowed Native Brotherhoods and Sisterhoods to operate in the prisons. They can have sweats, circles, pow-wows, socials and are encouraged to pursue their individual cultures and traditions while serving their sentence. Some institutions allow inmates to keep medicines, feathers and have trained the staff to respect those items while tossing a cell for contraband.

Here's some historical articles if you're interested.

Native Perspective on Corrections

Strategic Plan for Aboriginal Corrections

Administrative Segregation - Commitment to Legal Compliance, Fair Decisions and Effective Results, Task Force Report on

Canada's Relationship with Inuit: A History of Policy and Program Development (continued)

Backgrounder: Aboriginal Inmates - Office of the Correctional Investigator Canada

Correctional Service of Canada - Healing Lodge Final Operational Plan

Correctional Service of Canada - Human Rights and Corrections: A Strategic Model

You Wanted to Know - Federal Programs and Services for Registered Indians

Back to the hair topic... I once was told by a Cree elder from Saskatchewan, that the Cree believe that when you go before the Creator, you must account for where all your hair has gone over the years. Folks found it easier to keep their hair long rather than cut and have to keep track of where it went.

In our adouli, we have been told that losing a parent or spouse required us to demonstrate how much grief we felt but cutting off one of our fingers. Over the years and with the insistence of missionaries, the self harm was considered too harsh and the cutting of hair took its place. Our period of mourning is for one year. When the death first occurs, we hold a burial potlatch with the opposing clan taking care of the arrangements. We would burn the fire plate of the person to seek his/her passage to the spirit world and give gifts to the opposing clan for their work (we really don't like indebtedness to anyone) A year later, we hold "The End of Mourning" potlatch where we place a headstone/marker over the spirit house which houses the remains of the relative.

Traditionally, we would cremate our dead at the location of their death. Missionaries changed that, along with not allowing cremations (with the exception of a medicine person.. we believe that their bodies will not burn so we bury them sitting up). What was used for a bug repellent, soot and animal fat was mistaken for a badge of mourning (circa 1840ish) - white officials banned it as well as banning the potlatches. My grandmother thought this may also have been the beginning of the hair cutting as an outward show of mourning.
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Old 12-09-2010, 11:54 AM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmigoKumeyaay View Post
Most states will not allow a felon to vote, but that may be changing in the near future, that's voting rights.

Some penal institutions have allowed sweat lodges to be built, according to the Native spiritual practices of inmates. That's affirmation of their civil right to practice their traditions.

Technically, a prisoner still has most civil rights, only that they are living under a sentence with specific terms of limitations; right of movement, submission to search of their person and possessions, etc.

Amigo,

Before I moved, I was a volunteer in our state's prison system. As a volunteer, I helped facilitate culture for incarcerated Natives. While there are many traditional Natives in prisons, many others who may not have been involved with Native communities on the outside, affilate with Native identity on the inside in order to challenge state prison rules, using the First Amendment as a defense. Of course while serving as a volunteer, it was none of my business. I was just there to help. But it was just something I observed.

Now, part of my job description is to answer letters from the public concerning culture. Often many of these inquires come from inmates. In many correctional facilities inmates are still fighting for recognition to carry on traditional ceremonies such as sweats, that other correctional facilities allow. It is my observation that there is no national consistency in allowing incarcerated Natives to grow their hair long. Some institutions allow it, others are still fighting for this priviledge.
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Old 12-09-2010, 12:23 PM   #49
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Sorry for any native who wants to look like a white man.Has it really come this far?Haven't they done enough to us?I think all native men should wear their hair long.It is proof they have become a man & they look very sexy.
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Old 12-09-2010, 04:35 PM   #50
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Most states will not allow a felon to vote, but that may be changing in the near future, that's voting rights.
What a lot of people don't realize is that very often background checks are not run on people registering to vote. There are many people who, although not "allowed" to vote because of felony convictions, would find no obstacles to registering or voting. My late brother never had a problem voting, and he was a felon several times over.
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Old 12-10-2010, 12:08 AM   #51
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Amigo,

Before I moved, I was a volunteer in our state's prison system. As a volunteer, I helped facilitate culture for incarcerated Natives.

Very honorable of you!

While there are many traditional Natives in prisons, many others who may not have been involved with Native communities on the outside, affilate with Native identity on the inside in order to challenge state prison rules, using the First Amendment as a defense. Of course while serving as a volunteer, it was none of my business. I was just there to help. But it was just something I observed.

That's a fine line, sticking up for rights? or just fighting the power? The Rasta guys want dreads, and beards, and file as a religious reason.
I'm not sure why the system resists this.


Now, part of my job description is to answer letters from the public concerning culture. Often many of these inquires come from inmates. In many correctional facilities inmates are still fighting for recognition to carry on traditional ceremonies such as sweats, that other correctional facilities allow. It is my observation that there is no national consistency in allowing incarcerated Natives to grow their hair long. Some institutions allow it, others are still fighting for this priviledge.
Gov't is very inconsistent, even on the federal level...only taxes and death are certain LOL (actually Un-LOL) LOL

We can't just wharehouse these people and expect their bad habits to go away. The traditions and cultural activites, to include activity defined as "religion" can be a positive reinforcement to break a cycle of bad behavior. We are creatures of habit, and "recidivism" is an on-going problem with our prison system.

The street gang culture has spread throughout the U.S. and that is mostly because it is filling the void left when people lost their original traditions.

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Old 12-10-2010, 10:46 AM   #52
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Sorry for any native who wants to look like a white man.Has it really come this far?Haven't they done enough to us?I think all native men should wear their hair long.It is proof they have become a man & they look very sexy.
Ah yes, the brainwashed fallacy.

Let me try to decipher:

1. Long hair makes you "look" Native.
2. Long hair makes you sexy and masculine.
3. Exercising "choice" is to be eschewed.

What short-sighted and romanticist bunk.

Query: should Natives ride horses to work? Should Natives even have jobs or just be hunter/gatherers?

You sound like the sort of person who is unwilling to admit that Lewis and Clark were assisted by a bald and pre-pubescent girl as opposed to the flowing lock Disney model...

LAME.
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Old 12-10-2010, 01:33 PM   #53
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Old 12-10-2010, 02:40 PM   #54
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What is the tradition of Natives growing hair long? I've been told that the hair reflects the spirit, so the longer the hair, the stronger the spirit.

Am I on the right path with this idea?

White,

Back atcha'...

What is the tradition of White people growing their hair long... just not on their heads?

Am I on the right path with this idea?
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Old 12-11-2010, 12:43 AM   #55
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So meet Adriel Arocha, cute little Indian kid whose school is making a huge deal out of his braids. Rest of the story here.

The two parts pretty much sums it up.
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Old 12-11-2010, 08:35 AM   #56
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With respect, after reading the article, the school is making an issue about "hair," not his hair. (We Natives, and other minorities, tend to personalize everything.)

If his parents don't like the school's policy, they should send their child to another school, not theorize that a general policy is specifically designed to subvert the social identity of Natives.

Heck, if we actually considered that our brains are what define us -- and not our hair -- this wouldn't be an issue. (Yes, one could argue that hair is a physical manifestation of Nativeness but, well, "it's not." Our acceptance of this fallacy is what gave such power to shorn locks in the first place.)

Overall, I just don't see the issue.

To wit, if full/pure blood has to undergo chemotherapy and loses all their hair, do they cease to be Native?
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Old 12-12-2010, 02:03 AM   #57
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Zeke, did you read the first part? The author pretty much said what you said a few posts ago.

Quote:
It’s interesting. I wonder about the perception(s) of hair within our Native societies. I remember in college, when a Native had long hair, there was a presumption that the long-haired Native was “traditional;” I think that there’s usually a perception that a Native with long hair IS, in fact, somehow more Native (or Nativer) than a short-haired Native. In that school context, sometimes the long-haired Natives in school would play into that perception that they were, in fact, “traditional” so that they could spew off some pseudo-religious babble and make the giggling little hippie girls think that were “deep.”

Interestingly, the vast majority of the older “traditional” people that I know tend to have very neatly cut hair. Of course, some have braids, and some have mullets—business up front, party in the back. Many women have the hair hanging down and parted in the middle, straight out of a Cher video, some of the serious “rez” bangs and some have more contemporary hairstyles. Point is, there is no one style—fortunately—that defines Natives. Still, in some people’s eyes, the hair makes the Native.
I think the author (and JD way back in the thread) hit on something that the hair thing may not be attributed by anything in our traditions but by the imposition of others and their hair beliefs.. Samson and Delilah types of beliefs. If those types of folks believed that our hair somehow held mystical powers for us, then making us chop it off once they had our kids under their control was their way of displacing their beliefs on us.
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Last edited by yaahl; 12-12-2010 at 02:12 AM..
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:51 AM   #58
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I think the Samson and Delilah story has worked out in the dominant culture as another cautionary tale about the polluting power of female sexuality -- particularly foreign females sexuality. The story has been variously held up as an example of: the sensual temptress bringing down a man of God; a man led around by his -- uh -- passions until he violated every restriction of his vow to God; and recently repentance and grace.

It seems to me that hair in the dominant culture is profoundly symbolic of gender roles and societal norms. Long hair on a man is associated with deviance and rebellion. The 1960's counter-culture took long hair, particularly male long hair, as a external sign of rejection of the dominant culture. Indeed the hit musical of that era that attacked nearly every value of the larger Euro-American society was called Hair. Bikers, fans of certain alternative music, and other "outsider" groups use male long hair as a sign of identity.

These small town school district vs. long-haired Native boy lawsuits spring up fairly often here in Texas. And if you read the comments of the school board and town citizens you run into two common themes: perceived rebellion against the community standards , and once the legal wrangling starts, anger at outsider interference.
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Old 12-13-2010, 10:39 AM   #59
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Zeke, did you read the first part? The author pretty much said what you said a few posts ago.
Yes.

I have no issues with the author, but the parents annoy me.

Why?

For me, it's a microcosm: "I have no issues with society, but our (Natives) plaintive response to it makes me ill."

It's the same model.
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Old 12-13-2010, 04:11 PM   #60
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So meet Adriel Arocha, cute little Indian kid whose school is making a huge deal out of his braids. Rest of the story here.

The two parts pretty much sums it up.
I remember when this hit the papers, but I'd never seen Adriel's picture. What a cute little boy! Before that it was some (White) kid with a rat tail.
He wasn't nearly as photogenic as Adriel.

I don't care what race the person is, what religion, etc.. The public schools need to stop searching for things to be upset about. Back in the olden days when I was in school, the dress code said that our hair had to be clean and we had to be groomed. That's it. No restrictions on length, style, color...

Other than basic cleanliness, I really don't see how a student's hair is any of the school's business. Perhaps if school districts would stop wasting money trying to defend their right to style other people's children's hair, they'd have more money for school supplies, textbooks, toilet paper, teachers' salaries, and all those things they (justly) claim are underfunded.

Last edited by RDNKJ; 12-13-2010 at 09:35 PM.. Reason: Sloppy job of using bold.
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