Yellowstone County Museum director Benjamin Nordlund discusses the importance of the Native American headdresses with in the warrior culture and how it was earned.

In this Montana History Minute, Yellowstone County Museum Director Benjamin Nordlund explains how headdresses were earned in the warrior culture and how important they were.

“Specific types of warriors would be able to where the headdress, you wouldn’t be able to just go out and make your own buffalo horn headdress, you have to earn it,” Nordlund says in the video for the Billings Gazette.

So, to all those celebs and models who think it’s a way to honor the Native culture, we say again—it is not.

Feathered war bonnets (also called warbonnets or headdresses) are worn by honored Plains Indian men. In the past they were sometimes worn into battle, today they are worn primarily for ceremonial occasions. They are seen as items of great spiritual and magical importance. The eagle is considered by Plains tribes as the greatest and most powerful of all birds, and thus the finest bonnets are made out of its feathers.

Its beauty was considered of secondary importance; the bonnet's real value was in its supposed power to protect the wearer. Warriors wore the headdress in the belief that the power of the feathers would help them avoid injury. The feathers were commonly secured by capturing young eagles from nests and plucking their tail feathers when they reached maturity. This could be done three times before the feathers did not grow back. This method would allow the collection of as many as thirty six feathers. If care was taken in not disturbing the nest, this meathod could be repeated yearly.


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