Although no specific Native American word or phrase is used to identify the term “Hair Drop”, this was a common fashion in many Great Plains Tribes (Sioux, Cheyenne, Kiowa and Blackfoot). The term was coined by European Trappers and Traders around the 1830s. The Hair Drop was a fashion style used by both Men and Women. The use of Buffalo Tail Hair was preferred. Interwoven or braided, thus created a long, extension piece. In some cases, the length was 2 feet long. The Hair Drop was decorated with a variety of stone beads, feathers or bone. When contact and trade came with Europeans, glass beads were quickly adopted. Sometimes, beaded panels were interwoven in the “hair”, providing a kind of tapestry. With early trade with German Trappers and Traders, German Silver (usually in disk or circular shape), were highly sought after by Tribesmen and Women. Suitably pierced, these too were added to The Hair Drop.
Often associated with religious ceremony, The Hair Drop was used to invoke good luck with one’s Horse or Tribal Herd – especially I War or on The Hunt. Although not specific side The Drop was worn on, it seems to have been favored for “left sided” wear. Some zero best and Clans even adopted it’s wear on both sides. Only Adult Men wore The Hair Drop. Although they were removed. Elderly Men wore them often continuously. Despite popular myth, Women did not wear their Hair Drops on their heads. Theirs were tied to a waist belt. The loss of a Hair Drop, especially in Battle, was considered the ultimate in “bad luck”. Most were buried with theirs.
While Native Americans are noted for their long hair traditionally, The Hair Drop added to the legend of their incredibly long locks. Many Europeans and American Settlers assumed their “hair” was on fact the actual length of The Hair Drop. Still seem in use by Traditionalists, The Hair Drop is an iconic piece of Northern Plains Tribal Culture.