The Mohawk

Paunee or Omaha Chief

This man is a Pawnee or Omaha Chief, not Mohawk.

I grew up in, or at least, very near the traditional home of the Mohawk Native Americans, who were in turn part of the Iroquois. You are most likely to have heard of the Mohawk because of their famous hair style, a strip of hair like a crest down the middle of the head, with the rest of the head shaved.

You may also know of the Mohawk because of their famous ironworking in New York City. We who grew up along the Hudson-Mohawk confluence learned of the Mohawk because it was their river, and their valley, and the stories that had been passed down told us that they were more powerful than the Algonquin, and also, the bad-ass-est of all of the tribes in the region. Well after the American Revolution and maybe even after the Civil War, Mohawk warriors were said to travel around the area being tough, engaged in tricky balance between acting as security and acting as actors for the numerous travelling “Indian Shows” and “Wild West Shows” of the day. Of course, the reality of the Mohawk Tribe and its history is far richer and more interesting than that, but here, I just want to say a word or two about their hair.

The Mohawk did not wear Mohawks, and a Mohawk is not what you might think.

JT Eberhard's Girlfriend, Michaelyn

Michaelyn will get a Mohawk if you give JT Eberhard money.

First, Native Americans who ‘shaved’ all or parts of their head usually used plucking instead of shaving. All that bald area … that hair was torn out not shaved off. Just so you know. Second, Mohawk Indians did not wear that crest thingie that is now called a “Mohawk.” They wore something more like a patch of hair near the back of their head. The Pawnee and Omaha Indians wore something more like the “Mohawk” crest. Nobody seems to mind, these days, though calling this hair style a Mohawk. I’m not certain, but I don’t think people are too overly concerned about cultural patrimony or ripoff. The Mohawk is today a respectable haircut, if you want that special fierce look, and it is cool enough that a lot of younger Mohawk have taken the tradition on as “real” either because it’s been around so long, or because it isn’t worth correcting people, or they have a rather post-modern view of it all.

But more relevant to the moment is this: The woman you see in this photograph is planning to get a Mohawk haircut, to make her look more like the dude in the painting. And she is doing it for money. Your money. JT Eberhard has the details. Michaelyn will cut her hair into a Mohawk if they can raise $1,000 cash for the upcoming SOMA Reasonfest.

Last year’s Reasonfest drew 700 people, and this year looks to be even bigger! There will be a game room for socializing and good times all around – and it won’t cost anybody a dime to get in.

However, free to get in does not mean free to produce. Putting on an event like this takes a LOT of leg work and a LOT of fundraising by the organizers – and they do it all for the benefit of this movement. Right now they’re a few thousand short of covering the event, which is where we fit in: we’re going to help them with the fundraising.

My girlfriend, Michaelyn, who is part of SOMA, will get a mohawk and dye the tips red if we can raise $1,000 in two weeks.

So click here and learn more and give a few bucks. And help turn Michaelyn fierce.

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3 Responses to The Mohawk

  1. JT Eberhard says:

    Oh hell yes. I love you.

  2. Emily says:

    Where did you get your research regarding Native American hairstyles?

  3. Greg Laden says:

    Emily, this is trivia pursuits level stuff I found inside my PhD in Anthropology most likely. Are you doing research and want to know more, or have you done research and want to add more?

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