Hairstyles of the Plains Indians — and an excerpt of WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH

Good afternoon or evening & Happy Tuesday!

Did you know that most American Indians (before the advent of European civilization pushed in upon them) could tell from a footprint, a piece of clothing, the style of bow and arrow or other facets, what tribe the article came from?  How many of us could tell by simply looking at a person, where that person was from and what he or she did for a living?  We share so many common traits today (one state to the other), that it might be hard to tell, let alone pick up an article and tell at a glance where it was from and what tribe.  Anyhow, I thought that it might be fun to have a look at a few of the Western tribes and how they were not only similar, but how they were different.  Oh, I’ll be giving away a free book today, also.

I thought we’d have a look at the different hair styles:

This young fellow here to the left is Crow.  Notice the hair straight up on top, the loop necklace, the braids starting high and going straight down.  The hair going up like this was called pompadour style.  Here are some other images of the Crow:

Notice the looping necklace, the braids starting high mostly and the pompadour style of hair.  The Crow men were known to be very proud of their very, very long hair and their hair frequently touched the ground as they walked.  The women, due to cutting their hair when a relative died, women often had to augment their hair by adding to it in order to get the length.

Then there were the Sioux or the Lakota, Dakota or Nakota (depending on the dialect).  Now the picture to the right is a favorite of mine — it’s Adam Beach, who is not Sioux.  However, his style of hair and dress could be Sioux.  What we generally think of as Western Indian is often the image of the Teton Sioux.  The men wore their hair in many different styles, but often left it loose.  Two braids with a center part was common.  Here are some images of the Sioux:  Notice that the braids start a little lower down on the face and note the part in the middle.

The Sioux men also made a habit of wearing a bone choker and what I’ve always referred to as a breast plate made of bone.  Notice that the young man nearest wears this bone breast plate.  Also note that the image on the far right is that of Sitting Bull.

Handsome, handsome people the Sioux, and they still are.  Notice this young man on the left wearing traditional hair-style with a superman T-shirt. 

And then there were the Cheyenne.  The young man to the left (nearest) is Cheyenne.  Because the Cheyenne were allied to the Sioux, often their style of dress and hair-style often mimicked the Sioux.  The Cheyenne were fearsome warriors.  Interestingly, they once were farmers, but moved West, or were pushed West and once settled there, they became some of the most famous warriors in all of American history.  Here are some other images of the Cheyenne:

Notice that the images of these men look to me to be as if they might be Sioux as well as Cheyenne.

And then there were the Blackfeet.  The Blackfeet men sometimes wore their hair in the style of the pompadour, but one would never have confused them with their traditional enemies, the Crow.  Like other tribes, the men wore braids (and the women, too), but the men wore their hair in three braids (one in the back).  Shell earrings (white but often pink) were traditional styles for both men and women.  And often the Blackfeet wore the choker and the looping necklace as well.

The picture to my far right is Blackfeet, also.  Notice, too, the manner in which the Blackfeet wore their war bonnets…straight up — a little different than the Sioux.

Now, because the book, WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH has just hit the ebook bookstand, and to celebrate, I thought I’d include an excerpt with this post.


by Karen Kay

An Excerpt

Has a right?”

Katrina leapt to her feet. Benjamin Lloyd followed her up onto his, the man’s slight stature detracting from, rather than adding to the strength of his argument. At five-foot-five, the lawyer’s eyes were just level with hers. “Has a right?” Katrina repeated. “Do you think so? What does the law say about my uncle’s abandonment of me? About desertion?” 

“Katrina, you know that your uncle did not truly desert you.” 

“Didn’t he? I have not seen him for fourteen years. What is that, if not abandonment? Or are you speaking of the succession of nannies and governesses, the multitude of servants he hired?” 

She puckered up her face and leaned forward. “This can’t be truly legal.” 

“It most certainly is.” Benjamin Lloyd slapped his hand on his desk. 

“Benjamin, don’t you talk to me this way.” 

“Then start speaking sense.” 

Katrina blew out her breath, shaking her head at the same time “I am I . . .Does my uncle hate me so greatly?” 

“Hate you? Cease this sort of talk at once. I’m sure that isn’t the reason–” 

“He must,” Katrina insisted, her chin hiking up into the air. “I have always suspected it to be so. Why else would he never visit me, never write to me, never . . . ?” 

She stopped, her glance falling away from Benjamin’s before she continued, “Do you know that when I was a child, I used to write to him? I used to think of him as something of a knight. Did you know that, Benjamin? I used to dream of him coming to get me here; I used to envision . . .” Katrina glanced away into a corner of the room. It was some moments before she spoke again, saying, “But that was all so long ago, wasn’t it?” 

“Katrina, I didn’t know that–” 

“How could you?” She sighed. “He wants me to go there, you say? He is demanding that I travel out West and meet with him, if I desire my inheritance?” 

“Yes, he–” 

“And he would provide my transportation there?” 

“Yes, he–” 

“I know of no reputable coaches that travel that far.” 

“You are right,” Benjamin Lloyd was quick to note, “but I have looked into this, and I could make travel arrangements that would be quite comfort able for you. Firstly, I could hire a private coach that would carry you all the way to St. Louis. I would ensure your comfort and your safety, that is, if you decide to make the trip.” 

“If I decide? I thought I had to–” 

“You don’t have to go, Katrina.” 

“But didn’t you just say that–” 

“You wouldn’t have access to your dowry, of course, nor to the whole of your inheritance, until you are twenty-five, the age your father set down in his will as the time to receive the remainder of your legacy.” 

“Twenty-five. Six years away . . . You know that I can’t wait that long. I barely have enough funds to pay my current bills. What would I do for six years?” 

“You would have to be most frugal, my dear.” 

“Frugal? Penniless is more the correct word.” 

“Yes, well. . .” 

“Benjamin, this carriage that you would hire for me”–Katrina returned her glance toward her solicitor–“would it see me all the way to the Northwest Territory?” 

“Well, no, there are no roads that travel that distance, but it would take you to St. Louis, and from there, I could arrange your passage aboard a steamboat to Fort Union in the Northwest Territory. And there you would meet with your uncle.” 

“I see. Whatever, do you suppose, possessed my father and uncle to become traders?”

“Hmmm . . . What did you say, Katrina?” 

“Traders,” Katrina glanced away. “It’s a savage and uncivilized life that they chose for themselves, wasn’t it? Trading European goods for the furs of the Indians. Why do you think they chose it?” 

“Perhaps for the adventure. Mayhap for the money. They did accumulate quite a fortune for themselves . . . and for you, my dear. Might I re mind you that all the wealth and enjoyment that you have possessed thus far in your life has come down to you from the richness of that trade?” 

“Yes,” Katrina said on a heavy breath, “all my enjoyment.” Then, lowering her voice, she whispered, “And all my sorrow.” 


Katrina didn’t answer. Instead, she raised her chin, and asked, “Is that all, then? I have only to go there and meet my uncle and then I might have–” 

“And your fiance.” 

“Excuse me?” 

Benjamin Lloyd cleared his throat. “Didn’t I mention that to you?” 

“No, you did not.” 

“Oh, yes, well, your uncle here stipulates that he must meet and,” Benjamin Lloyd lowered his voice, speaking quickly, “. . . and approve of said fiance before the distribution of–” “Meet? Approve?” 

“Yes, well…” Katrina leaned over the desk. “What further madness is this?” 

Benjamin Lloyd fingered his collar. He leaned backwards. “I was certain I had told you that. I was . . . why, here it is. This document says”–he shook out a piece of paper–“when the party of the first– your uncle–shall meet and approve of matrimonial choice of said ward–that is you–any hitherto obligation of said ward will be discharged and the distribution of funds shall commence–” 

“He wants to meet my fiance?” 

“Yes, I–” 

“Why does he want to . . . This makes little, if any sense at all. First, he asks me to place myself in danger to go and meet him, and now he is demanding to approve of my fiance?” 

“In danger, my dear? I’m not sure I would use those terms to…” 

Katrina no longer listened to the lawyer’s ramblings. No, she had already lifted the hem of her pink satinet dress, stepped away from her chair, and begun to pace beside the solicitor’s desk. 

She stopped suddenly, intercepting the lawyer, as she said, “Well, I am certain of it now. My uncle hates me.”

“Katrina . . .” 

“It’s the only possible explanation. Perhaps my uncle hated my father, as well as me, and it is only in this way that the awful man can seek full revenge.” Katrina hurriedly dropped the hem of her skirt and turned around, stepping briskly to her solicitor’s desk, the bustle under her skirts swaying with her movement. 

Benjamin Lloyd, however, watching her, did nothing more than swallow noisily. 

“Well, at least I understand my uncle, now,” she said. “He hates me, has hated me all my life, and this is his way of getting back at me.” 

“Katrina, I’m not sure that I–” 

“I always wondered why my only living relative never came to see me, why all the nannies and servants . . .” 

“Now, Katrina, I don’t see that this makes any difference to what is being asked now. The servants and the maids, the–” 

“Don’t you?” Katrina interrupted, turning away and presenting her back to the spectacled solicitor. Briefly she glanced into a corner of the room. A moment passed. Another. At last, though, she took a deep breath and, pivoting to confront her lawyer, looked directly at him. “You’re probably right, Benjamin. None of the past matters anymore.” 

“Please, my dear, I know that this is all so unexpected. Naturally you are upset and–” 

“I will go.” 

“Now, now. Don’t make too hasty a decision. It’s best to think it over carefully before . . . You will?” 

“Yes, I will. My uncle wants to see me. I will go. He never came here to see me, but I will go to him. Besides, what choice do I have? If I don’t do this, I will lose all reputation here, what with no more available funds to draw from.” She turned so that the pink bonnet she wore did not obstruct her view of the solicitor. “My uncle has played an excellent game with me, I think. A game of chess, if you will. He has laid siege to my queen for the moment. Do you know that? I thought to marry in order to avoid my uncle and draw upon the rest of my inheritance without ever a word to him. I thought I had placed my uncle’s king in checkmate. Now I see that I had a more worthy opponent than I had at first envisioned.” 

“Katrina, what are you saying? You might be taking this too much to heart. Perhaps, my dear, it would be best not to judge your uncle until–” 

“He will not win, though.” 

“Katrina, I don’t think that…” 

But Benjamin Lloyd might as well have remained silent. Katrina had already collected her purse and umbrella, marched to the room’s door and flung it open before she turned back toward him. Her lips parted for a moment, as though she might say something further, but with a definite shake of her head, she merely stated, “Good day, Benjamin.” 

And with that said, she delayed no longer. Picking up the front of her dress, she swept through the door, her head held in a stiff, defiant angle. 

And there was no one, not a single person at this moment, who would have interfered with her without cost. 

At least no one in New York City. 


On sale at:


And so to close, I thought I’d offer you a bit of a challenge.



The photo above isn’t as large as I would have liked, but I’m wondering if you can guess which tribe is represented?


Can you guess?  All of the following books of mine were all written about this tribe:  Gray Hawk’s Lady, White Eagle’s Touch, Night Thunder’s Bride, Wolf Shadow’s Promise, Soaring Eagle’s Embrace, The Princess and the Wolf.  I’ll be giving away one of these books to a lucky blogger today — and it doesn’t matter is you get the tribe right or not.  :)   So come on in and make a stab at this — I’ll announce the tribe when I announce the winner


Website | + posts

KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
Please refer to for all contest rules.

17 thoughts on “Hairstyles of the Plains Indians — and an excerpt of WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH”

  1. I agree with you on the Sioux and how handsome those men were/are. You can tell they have such strength and spirit. Just magnificent. And I love their hair. Congratulations on the new e-book release. White Eagle’s Touch looks wonderful. You have some of the prettiest covers I’ve seen. Very nice. I’m wishing you lots of luck with these.

  2. Your posts are always so great, Karen! I love to see what you have in store for us each time. And I have to agree with you and Linda, the Sioux are such good-looking men!

    Loved the excerpt from “White Eagle’s Touch.” You are such a talented author.

    My guess for the last picture would be that the man is a Blackfoot warrior.

  3. Hi Kirsten!

    Thanks so much for your warm compliments. You are so very gracious. I would let you know about your guess, but I’m going to wait till the end of the day. 🙂 Thanks so much for leaving your comment. 🙂

  4. Hi Pamela!

    How wonderful! I love ancestry and all that goes along with it. And thank you for your compliment – it deepens the strength of my heart. 🙂

  5. Saw where you had a post today i don’t get on the internet much anymore but i had to leave a comment saying hello and hope you have much success with your new release You’ll always be a special lady. My guess is Sioux?

  6. Hey! Haven’t seen you in ages! Hope all is well. BTW – I am part Choctaw! It is in the family Bible that my Great Great Grandfather was a full blooded “injun”.

    Peace, Pam

  7. Hi Lori!

    Gosh, it’s great to see you here today! Great guess, by the way. And how’s your mother?

    So hello, hello, hello to you! At the end of the night, I’ll be picking a winner and I’ll announce the name of the tribe. 🙂

  8. Hi Pam!

    It’s great to hear from you! I’m going to be in Clearwater soon — in just a couple of weeks. I’ll be there also for a couple of weeks, and so of course I’ll need to get together with you! Are you still selling at the Farmer’s Markets? I hope so.

    Okay, Pam, so I’m Choctaw, also. It’s on my father’s side of the family, my grandmother. I even have the picture of the lady who brought the heritage into the family. Somewhere on one of my computers — an older one, I think.

    So I’ll see you soon! 🙂

  9. He is most likely Lakota. I do wonder about the bear claw necklace. They were primarily a plains nation although their territory did go up into the Bighorn Mountains. Never mind, I just checked the historic grizzly range and it overlapped the Lakota range. That isn’t the type of item that was usually traded. A bear claw necklace was a sign of hunting prowess and bravery. It had to be earned.

    Thanks for the excerpt. I enjoyed it. I will have to check my TBR shelf and see which ones of yours I have waiting for me.

  10. Hi Kay!
    I love all the info on the different tribes. I agree with the others that it must be Sioux. I am Powhatan and Cherokee on my father’s side. It’s a few generations back but it’s there. Love the excerpt!

  11. Hi Patricia!

    Yes, well I will reveal all very soon. I usually have the drawing in the late evening,in order to allow those who get home late on the West Coast to respond, also.

    The Bear Claw necklace is beautiful,isn’t it?

  12. Hi Lisa G!

    Powhatan, Pocahantas’s tribe. And Cherokee — probably a beautiful combination. And thanks for your compliments. 🙂 You are most kind.

Comments are closed.