11 Things You Should Know About Mohawks
Perhaps one of the most known Native American tribes – for a hairstyle are the Mohawks. In as much as the hairstyle of warriors going into battle with the sides of their heads shaved is a distinction - for the Mohawks, there are many other interesting tidbits that set them apart from other tribes on Turtle Island than just their locks – or lack thereof.
Thanks to Public Information officer Aimee Benedict and tribal historian Arnold Printup at the St. Regis Mohawk tribe who made themselves available to answers questions about Mohawks. As a result of their contributions they were able to help us at ICTMN compile 11 things you should know about the Mohawks.
(Not including correspondent Vincent Schilling is also an enrolled member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe)
Mohawk Warriors and those cool haircuts. To address the namesake of the Mohawk people, it goes without saying that we should recognize the haircuts of the warriors preparing to go into battle. History dictates Mohawk warriors cut the sides of their heads with a strip of hair remaining in the familiar shape of today’s Mohawk. This style is also called the scalplock.
What history doesn’t say however is that this was NOT the only style of hair and as in any culture, styles varied. Many warriors did cut their hair, but in various ways such as cut on one side, in front and more. According to Arnold Printup – who himself sports a scalplock, “Our ancestors wore several styles to their liking. According to our oral traditions one historian said there was a warrior who also had a strip down the middle shaved out. The majority shaved our heads in some way. We valued the length of hair for its strength, spirituality and power,” said Printup.
Warriors shaved heads to protect women and children. Mohawk Tribal historian Printup also says at a time when scalps were desired by settlers for bounty, Mohawk warriors decided to cut their hair in various ways to make their scalps more desirable to bounty hunters. “It was an in your face bold move as if to dare bounty hunters to seek their scalps. It was a distinction and a way to protect women and children.”
To throw a bit more confusion into the fire, Mohawk author and historian Darren Bonaparte says Mohawk isn’t a Mohawk word, because “M isn’t one of our letters.” Bonaparte says the hairstyle was originally Huron, yet old movies and Mohawk warrior paratroopers shaving their heads on D-Day inspired the namesake attached to the haircut.
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