The image of the feather can instantly be associated with the Native American Indian culture. Native Indians would collect feathers from various birds and in particular the eagle and make use of them in many ways. Indian feathers were primarily used to create different kinds of headdresses that were called by distinct names.
Feathers also had a spiritual significance for native Indian-Americans. Various tribes associated different symbolic meaning with feathers and utilized them in different ways. Even the current Constitution of the United States respects the Native Americans’ association with feathers and they are granted special permission to collect eagle feathers where as other people are restricted from doing so.
Some of the most popular Indian feather based traditional headdresses are as follows:
Indian Feather Headdresses
The Indian feather warbonnet is without a doubt the most popular feather headdress created by Native Americans. It is an impressive headdress that has been featured in many silver screen flicks and is instantly associated with Native Americans.
The interesting thing to note is that compared to other forms of headdresses the use of the warbonnet was restricted to only a few select tribes. Perhaps the most popular warbonnet is the trailer warbonnet. These kinds of headdresses feature either single or two rows of feathers that extended all the way down to make a long tail at the end. In some cases the tail would actually go all the way down to the ground.
The halo warbonnet is another popular Indian feather headdress. This was one of the more formal headdresses which is even used by modern Crow elders till today. This warbonnet features the feathers hanging out across the face making an oval shape.
The straight up feather headdress is yet another popular variety. This particular headdress was taller than most of the other varieties and had a rather narrow construction where the eagle feathers were made to stand up straight, and hence the name.
Not every native Indian was free to wear the feather headdress. On the contrary it was awarded to warriors that displayed extra ordinary acts of bravery in the battle fields.
Importance of Indian Feathers
In particular the feathers from the golden eagle were highly revered by the Native Indians and would only be awarded to the warrior that performed the bravest of all war deeds.
An elaborate ceremony for crowning warriors with feather headdresses would be held in which some warriors would even be painted red in honor of their acts.
Feathers were not the only elements of design used to decorate the traditional headdresses. They would often display intricate beadwork and other adornments made out of ermine skin.
However it was the feathers that were of most prominence and lent the headdresses their symbolic significance. Feathers continue to be a sacred item for the native Indians even today although the use of headdresses has become minimal.