Where did Mohawk Warrior haircuts come from?

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.

Responses to "The Truth About Mohawk Hair and Why Mohawk Warriors Shaved their Heads"

  1. casey says:

    Wow great history. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Protecting women and children by shaving, really? Bounty hunters were also after women and children scalp as well. Did they shave them also?

  3. MrsLee says:

    The bounty hunter sees the family unit, but the man's hair and ornamentation made for the most valuable scalp. Therefore the scalpers goes after the brave and gives the women and children more time to escape

  4. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous for an obvious reason..

  5. Unknown says:

    The hair was cut in this style, because when you take a scalp, you will cut front, near the hair line. It was usually the middle piece of the skin , on the head, what was cut away. By cutting your hair " Mohawk" style, it was a message to the enemy, Here is my scalp, come.and take, if you can.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful brave people. Glad that this violence is relegated to the past.

  7. Thanks for the info

  8. Anonymous, we still are subjected to much violence. A different sort but violence still. Look at the videos of Standing Rock. Many protestors, our Water Protectors, had many of their Civil Rights violated by the militarized private police force (Tiger Swan) and the public Morton County Sheriffs Department employees.

  9. Donny says:


  10. Highly implausible. The Iroquois were allies of the Dutch, the British, and the Americans. They fought other tribes using guns supplied by the Dutch. Their warfare was almost entirely with other Natives. It makes no sense that this hairstyle became associated with the Mohawk as protection against whites.

  11. Very interesting

  12. Ron says:

    It makes sense. Though I don't imagine it would matter much to a warrior. What colour or nationality the Enemy was. If you don't kill them . They'll kill you.

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