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The fourth type of head covering in use on the Plains was the skins of animals in their natural form. Some of the societies, whose vision helpers were powerful animals such as the buffalo, would make ahead and back covering of the long hair and skin taken from the buffalo' s brow.

The horns were then attached to the gracefully formed headpiece, and the completed head covering was worn at society functions---and sometimes to war.

Bear Cult members often made head coverings of entire bear heads, wearing these in accordance with the ways they had seen them in their visions.

The wolf was a superb hunter, and on the other hand very difficult to catch. Therefore, his skin became the ideal covering for scouts serving as lookouts for raid and war parties.

Ordinarily, the Indians did not line their animal head coverings with trade cloth.


Left, grizzly bear headdress with head worn upright and complete bear's body hide left attached. Right, grizzly bear headdress worn by Bear Cult member in more traditional fashion.  Thomas E. Mails, Mystic Warriors of the Plains

Left, wolf, front view. Right, timber wolf, side view. Animal headdresses like these were usually, though not always, held on with straps which tied under the chin.
Thomas E. Mails, Mystic Warriors of the Plains
Left, buffalo hair headdress taken from hump of animal, front view. Right, side view.
Thomas E. Mails, Mystic Warriors of the Plains

NEXT- Storage of Headdresses

PAGES IN THIS ARTICLE Introduction~Four Types ] Horned Headdresses ] Pictures of Horned Headdresses ] Golden Eagle Feather Headresses ] Pictures of Golden Eagle Feather Headdresses ] Hat~Cap~Roach ] [ Animal's Skin Headresses ] Headdress Storage ] Conclusion~Footnotes ]


The buffalo horn bonnet is one of several collected by Chief Joseph White Bull, nephew of the renowned Sitting Bull. It is assumed they were acquired during the reservation period shortly after the famous Custer battle in 1876.

Joseph White Bull, a Miniconjou Sioux, participated in the battle, and later claimed to be the one who actually inflicted the fatal shot upon Custer-a claim supported by the authority Stanley Vestal in 1934, and also by James H. Howard in a recent book entitled
The Warrior Who Killed Custer.

This bonnet fur is bobcat. It has an eagle's head mounted on top, plus a quilled ring and many dyed eagle breath feathers. The side and horn feathers are hawk. The long plume at the back reveals that the wearer has made his renowned Sun Dance one or
more times.

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