How to Indian Braid

Written by genevieve van wyden
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How to Indian Braid
Learn how to braid hair. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Native Americans have worn their hair in a wide variety of styles, from topknots to pompadours, roaches (the Mohawk or Mahican, depending on the tribe), chongos or braids. Braided hair was sometimes reserved for tribal members with high status in the tribe or for American Indian women. The braid style for women signified whether the woman was a maiden or married, as well. Once the hair has been combed out, the actual braiding process follows a set of repeated steps.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Comb
  • Ponytail holders
  • Feather
  • Beads
  • Leather

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Instructions

    Single Braid

  1. 1

    Comb the hair, removing all tangles and smoothing out the strands.

  2. 2

    Run the comb toward the back of the person's head, pulling the hair from the face toward the back of the neck.

  3. 3

    Gather all strands of hair into one bunch. Run the comb through the hair once more so it is smooth. Continue holding the hair in one hand at the back of the neck.

  4. 4

    Pick up a ponytail holder and stretch it around the fingers of the other hand.

  5. 5

    Place the ponytail holder around the hair at the back of the neck and loop it around the hair until it is snugly on the hair.

  6. 6

    Divide the hair into three sections.

  7. 7

    Move the section on the right over the centre section and grab it with the fingers of your left hand. Transfer the centre section to your right hand and use your fingers on your right hand to grip the centre section.

  8. 8

    Move the section on the left over the new centre section with your left hand, grabbing it with the fingers of your right hand. The centre section becomes the left section. Hold this in your left hand.

  9. 9

    Return to the right section of hair and repeat the last three steps until you get to the end of the hair. Place a ponytail holder on the end of the hair.

  10. 10

    Adorn your braid with a feather, beads or a length of leather.

    Two Braids

  1. 1

    Comb the hair until all tangles are removed and the hair is smooth. Part the hair down the centre from the forehead to the back of the neck. Put both sections of hair over the person's shoulders.

  2. 2

    Divide one section of hair into three sections.

  3. 3

    Move the section on the right side over the centre section with your right hand. Grip that section with your left hand and grab the new right section with your right hand. Transfer the new centre section to your right hand and grip it with your fingers.

  4. 4

    Move the section on the left over the new centre section with your left hand, grabbing it with the fingers of your right hand. The centre section becomes the new left section. Hold it with your left hand.

  5. 5

    Move the new right section of hair over the centre section and repeat the final three steps until you are finished with this braid.

  6. 6

    Secure the end of the braid with a ponytail holder.

  7. 7

    Move to the second section of hair and make a braid on that side using the same steps.

  8. 8

    Adorn your hair with a feather, beads or a length of leather.

Tips and warnings

  • Both Indian men and women wore braids in different tribes.
  • In some tribes, braids signified the status of the person wearing them, according to the Indian.org website.
  • Native Americans of some tribes place a high spiritual value on their hair. Braids and long and flowing styles are still popular, writes the Native-Languages website.

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