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The tribal significance of long hair.

 
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loveternal
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Posted:     Post subject: The tribal significance of long hair.

I am aware that for some native nations, having long hair was spiritually significant. Does that still matter in the modern world or no? Should it matter at all?

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chosnazzy
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Posted:     Post subject:

In Lakota tradition, hair has something called "tun", which is the essence of the soul. The only time you are to cut your hair is when a close relative or best friend has died. In the ancient way of doing this, you wear your hair loose and grab half of it. Then cut that half off. So from the back, your hair looks half long on one side. This lets everyone know you are in mourning. This way, they will not try to joke with you or anything like that. (Note: In these modern days, people go to a hair salon and get a short hair style to show they are in mourning. I think this is ridiculous and vain, and not traditional at all).

Then you place your lock of hair with the deceased relative of friend. The belief is that the "tun" from your hair will travel with the soul of the deceased person. This way he or she is not alone as they continue their soul journey, the way I described in the topic about reincarnation.

Also, there is a ceremony called Nagi Gluha, in which a lock of hair is cut from the deceased person. And a wise relative is chosen to watch over this lock of hair for a year, as the relatives begin their year of mourning (after they cut off half of their hair).

The relative keeps this deceased person's lock of hair in a special place, and those in mourning may visit it and speak to it. The deceased person's "tun" is also still in this lock of hair, so when you speak to it, the soul of the deceased person can hear what you are saying to him/her, no matter where that soul is located, because time and space are not applicable to the spiritual reality. Also, sacred information may come from the deceased person through his/hair that is being kept in the special place. And this information maybe helpful to the people.

This helps the relatives to slowly adapt to this new situation of that relative being away. After a year has passed, that deceased person's hair is disposed of in a sacred way. Then the mourning relatives are brought inside a huge circle consisting of members of the community.

Certain people are chosen to bring water and a comb to the mourners. Then these people wash the mourners' faces, and comb their hair. They bring them water to drink, as well. After this is done, the Nagi Gluha ceremony is over. Then sometimes Heyoka (sacred clowns) will come and dance for the people so they can laugh again, as laughter is a cleansing medicine.

This last part of washing the mourners faces and combing their hair is called Wiping The Tears, but this is only the ending of the much bigger and more elegant Nagi Gluha ceremony. Unfortunately, today most people only do that last Wiping the Tears part. They don't do the complete Nagi Gluha ceremony.

So you see, in the Lakota tradition, having long hair is not a fashion statement. It is part of our identity. So from this ancient perspective, when someone cuts their hair really short for no reason and no relative has died, this means they are wishing for one of their relatives to die. When you attend a Lakota ceremony and the people all have short hair, this is not a good thing if they are not in mourning. Among the many reasons why there are so many problems on the reservations, having short hair might also be a contributing factor.

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loveternal
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Posted:     Post subject:

Ok I am keeping my hair long because I love my friends and relatives! I love this tradition Smile

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chosnazzy
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Posted:     Post subject:

`But I do cut off my split ends, though Smile

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chosnazzy
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Posted:     Post subject:

Another Lakota tradition concerning long hair concerns when a man asks a woman to braid his hair. Because of this "tun" in hair, when a man asks his woman to braid his hair, he is saying to her is that he trusts her wholeheartedly, even with his soul. He is signaling to his woman that he wishes to be with her from now on. In other words, he is declaring his love to her. The first time he asks her to do this, this could be a marriage proposal. And every time during their marriage when he asks her to braid his hair, it's like he is renewing that proposal. And of course, this same custom is true when a woman asks her man to braid her hair, as well. That means so much more than a "ring" with a "rock" on it Smile

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chosnazzy
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Posted:     Post subject:

Also, a person's "tun" comes out from the palms of his/her hands. And when a woman braids her man's hair, her love is flowing through her hands and into him, through his hair. And the same is true for when he braids her hair, as well. So when a couple braids each other's hair, they are sending their love into each other. And as they do this throughout their marriage/relationship, their love will always be growing for each other. This is one of several ways in which they nurture their relationship.

When this couple has children and the parents braid their children's hair, they are sending familial love into their children. This is a very important part of the parent+child bonding process.

During the boarding school experience of the early 1900s, Native children were forced to have their hair cut off. As I said in a previous post, most Natives only cut their hair when a close relative died. So when all these children were forced to stand in line and get their long hair cut, this was very traumatizing for them, as they thought all their families back on the reservations had died. And they were forced to keep their hair short after that.

Many of these boarding schools were christian and catholic, and these churches forced their religions into these Native children. This is spiritual abuse. This is the reason why many Native children never had an opportunity to learn their own tribal traditions. Hence, they do not know the traditions regarding having long hair. Now, here we are several generations later, and most Natives of today have short hair. This could be one of the many reasons why there are so many family problems on the reservations, as well.

So again, long hair among Lakota people is not a fashion statement. It is a part of our identity.

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loveternal
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Posted:     Post subject:

All of this information is so profound! Thank you very much for sharing it. I have always been conscientious about how I care for my hair. And now this information makes me even more so Smile

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theresasky
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Posted:     Post subject:

Wonderful information. I believe the lost of tradition could be a problem too.

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loveternal
(deleted)









Posted:     Post subject:

To me, long hair looks really cool. However, from reading the words of Chosnazzy, which are posted above and which I also really love, it goes without saying that people who are very emotionally unhealthy will also have unhealthy "tun" (energy) in their hair.

Just because a man has long hair, this is not good enough for me. He must also be a virtuous and emotionally healthy man. Otherwise, I will be unable to completely connect with him. He has to have the patience to take the time to get to know me, so I can also know him. Otherwise, he will be unable to receive all of my love. And if that is not important to him, it shows he is selfish.

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