Possibly Nimi’puu (Nez Perce) or Niitsitapii (Blackfoot/Blackfeet)


  • About 1900
  • Native-tanned hide, golden eagle feathers, wool cloth, glass beads, weasel fur, ermine, yarn, thread, and overlay-stitch beading
  • Overall: 64 9/16 in.

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Gift of Mrs. Guido Rahr, Sr., Class of 1951P; 986.45.26658

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Feathered headdresses evolved from an old custom, common to many Native American groups, of attaching feathers to the hair. Plains groups sewed the feathers into headbands and elaborated on them throughout the nineteenth century, creating the striking style of backward-sweeping and trailing feathers as seen in this headdress.

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Until the late 1800s, the Plains headdress was an article of prestige, worn only by experienced warriors and men who were highly regarded in their communities. Each golden eagle feather was earned for an act of bravery or leadership. By about 1890, with war honors no longer attainable in the reservation setting, the military significance of the headdress faded. Many non-Plains groups then adopted the feathered headdress for official and public appearances as a mark of their Indian identity.

Detail. Sioux, Pictorial buffalo robe, about 1870. Buffalo (American bison) hide, paint, ink, and sinew, 86 × 102 3/8 in. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through the Florence and Lansing Porter Moore 1937 Fund; 2009.13

Full-length headdresses, such as this, were meant to be worn while on horseback. A’aninin scholar George Horse Capture once stated, “There is only one thing more impressive than a warbonnet made from the beautiful feathers of the golden eagle with a long trailer: one with two long trailers.” (Interview, 2010)

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Image GW - golden eagle.jpg

Research the golden eagle.

What special qualities does it possess as a hunter?

Why do you think its feathers were awarded to Plains men as war honors? 

Plains: Clothing & Regalia