Roach Headdress

War Paint on Iowa Warrior

The Roach Indian Headdress
Facts and information about the History of Clothing and regalia of Native American Indians and their Roach Headdress. The traditional Roach Headdress was worn by the warriors of many Native Indian tribes including the Sauk, Fox, Ponca, Pequot, Osage, Omaha, Lenape (Delaware), Kansa, Crees, Mohawk, Huron and the Pawnee.

Different pictures of Native Indians wearing various styles of roach headdresses can be found via many the above articles.  The Roach headdress, also called porcupine roaches, was often worn by warriors, together with war paint to intimidate their enemies.

Roach Headdress Fact Sheet

  • Roach Headdress Fact 1: The term 'roach' was given to the headdresses because it reminded early colonists of the spikey effect that resulted after clipping or cutting off the mane of a horse, called 'roaching'
  • Roach Headdress Fact 2: Warriors shaved their hair leaving a 'scalp lock' (one long lock of hair in back) to which a roach headdress was attached
  • Roach Headdress Fact 3: It is believed that the style was adopted by many Native Indian tribes because it made it more difficult for an enemy to take your hair (scalp) as a trophy
  • Roach Headdress Fact 4: The headdress stood straight up from their heads like a crest
  • Roach Headdress Fact 5: The crest was held open by comb-like object called a roach-spreader.
  • Roach Headdress Fact 6: The crest and spreader were held in place with a pin stuck through a lock of hair that was pulled through a hole in the roach, or by laces that were tied around the head and neck
  • Roach Headdress Fact 7: The spreader was made of bone, metal, or leather and was often carved and painted
  • Roach Headdress Fact 8: Feathers, often dyed red, were attached to the headdresses
  • Roach Headdress Fact 9: Other articles, such as arrows, were also added to the headdresses
  • Roach Headdress Fact 10: They were traditionally made from porcupine guard hair, turkey beard hair, moose hair and white deer-tail hair
  • Fact 11: Many warriors used a single eagle feather as a decoration.
  • Fact 12: A feather from an eagle was believed to possess supernatural powers and this powerful emblem symbolized great strength, courage and prestige
  • Fact 13: The different styles of the 'roaches' were often related to the locations of the Great Plains tribes. The central and southern plains style was the smaller version with the front hairs standing erect with a gradual outward flare. The tribes of the northern plains wore larger roach headdress with the front hairs flaring outward at an almost horizontal angle
  • Fact 14: The modern hairstyle most commonly associated with the roach headdresses is incorrectly referred to as a 'Mohawk' or a 'Mohican'. The men of the Mohawk tribe plucked, rather than shaved their hair leaving short tufts which they then dyed with red ochre and then braided.
  • Fact 15: This type of hairstyle is ancient and worn by many people all over the world. The TV series 'Vikings' features the hero Ragnar Lothbrok sporting such a hairstyle
  • Fact 16: The common perception of the "Mohawk" or " Mohican" hairstyle is actually taken from the Pawnee tribe who are attributed with its introduction
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Updated 2018-01-01

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