Instructions for Native American Hair Braiding

By Darren Bonaparte

Many Native American tribes, like the Navajo, Cayuse, Sioux, Blackfoot and the Hopi wore specific hairstyles like double and single braids. Some Native Americans keep true to their tribal heritage by braiding their hair into a long, thick braid. Though there are many hairstyle variations, the single braid was widespread throughout many tribes and especially popular in Crow tribes. Both women and men wore their hair in braids. Braids were a standard, gender neutral, everyday look that allowed manageable hair. The braiding creates a sleek look that can easily be achieved at home.

Native American hair could get long, so braiding was a simple and elegant way to keep the hair tidy.

Step 1

Create the simple and classic braid by combing and pulling all hair back toward the farthest part of the back of your head, on a direct diagonal from your chin.

Step 2

Secure the hair with an elastic and separate the remaining hair into three equal sections.

Step 3

Pull the right portion of hair over the central section, so that it is between the center and left sections.

Step 4

Alternate by grabbing the left-most section and cross it over between the center (formally right section) and the right-most section. Continue by crossing the far right between the two left and the left between the two right. Always cross over the top.

Step 5

Weave colorful yarn, ribbons, or feathers through the hair as your braid if you desire. Several tribes adorned their hair with color and texture. Pueblo men would adorn their braids with ornamental headbands. Navajo men would weave a ribbon that held specific, special meaning.

Step 6

Secure the end of the hair with an elastic.