Where Did the Mohawk Hair Style Originate?

did-mohawk-hair-style-originate Credit: Oona Raisanen/CC-BY 2.0

The hairstyle known as the "mohawk" comes from the Native American tribe of the same name, the Mohawk tribe of the Iroquois Confederation. The warriors from this tribe wore a distinct hair style that was plucked on either side with the middle left to grow long. This length of hair was then braided and decorated. The Pawnee Indians wore a similar style, which was shaved at the sides.

The Mohawk tribe were known for their bravery and unusual choice of hairstyle. They were the appointed keepers of the Eastern Doors, the borders of the Iroquois nation in the east. They protected the Iroquois nation from invasion from early U.S. settlers.

The name "Mohawk" actually comes from the Dutch settlers living near the tribe during their early years of settlement. The tribe were called "Maw Unk Lin," which means "bear people." The Dutch reportedly translated this to Mohican, giving the tribe the name that they are most commonly associated with.

Both the Mohawk and Pawnee warriors wore distinctive hairstyles, but only the Pawnee shaved their heads for an effect similar to the style known as the mohawk today. The Mohawk tribe actually plucked the hair off of their heads until only a single square was left. This hair was left to grow long and then braided and decorated to distinguish the warriors.