The headdress known for it's roots in Native American culture has gained a lot of attention in mainstream as well as counterculture. We can thank Victoria's Secret for the fashion show that angered our natives to the extent they spoke against the women wearing headdresses.
The belief that is upheld by Native Americans about headdresses is that they are only to be worn by Native American men that have earned the headdress through an act of courage or valor. This is troubling for non-natives that are inspired by the beauty of the headdress as well as a symbolism that the headdress means to them, personally.
Americans have been trying to find their own culture since our ancestors arrived here, by whatever means. My family has been here for just three generations with my Grandfather arriving here in 1904. While my family has done well to preserve our authentic Italian traditions, we still are influenced by the culture we live in now, American culture. Culture is determined by the people we are surrounded by, the towns and cities we live in as well as the technology we have access to. Americans, dwellers of the great melting pot, have learned through the years the values of respecting eachother's differences to accepting them and eventually adopting them as values of their own. This is essential for peace in a society with so many differences. In a way, we are all striving to see a little of ourselves in eachother.
Let's ask ourselves a couple of questions. Is it possible for the love of headdresses to exist among the American culture as well as the Native American culture? The answer is of course, we love beautiful things, especially handmade. Why put out that fire?
Do warriors still exist in American culture? A warrior is someone that has succeeded in a battle and has attributes of bravery and strength.
If you believe a warrior can be someone that has had to summon inner-strength to overcome health issues, family or personal struggles, spirituality, status or economic difficulties and fully utilized it as empowerment to defeat the odds, then warriors exist in all cultures.
What is is about a headdress that means so much? This can be broken down into the contents. The feathers, that once belonged to the ever symbolic bird. The feathered creature, Phoenix arises out of the depths and continues with new life. The bird that flies above, from tree top to tree top, has complete control of it's placement in life. We have always been infatuated by the bird's abilities. It could be argued that the roots of wearing feathers could be an act of our trying to adopt another culture, possibly of our aviary friends? Also, how did the person making the headdress gain access to the feathers?
The method for obtaining the feathers should absolutely have meaning with respect to the headdress. It is possible that the warrior killed the bird for food, for family and then used the remains of feathers to create a headdress to be worn out of respect for the bird that gave the ultimate gift, this should be reflected in the headdress. It is also possible that instead of survival, the headdress was made out of the pure respect for beauty, using naturally molted feathers. There are some that collect the feathers off the ground, that have fallen from the bird that no longer requires them. Collecting these feathers for use in a headdress is simply to say that we admire the beauty of the feathers and the birds that they came from. There are also headdresses that have been made as a mockery to Native American culture, mass produced, with roots in slaughter houses, assembled in factories and popping up on mart shelves and craft supply stores. As a side note, I would say that it is as important to know where your supplies come from as it is to know where your food comes from.
A headdress is a fashion statement that is associated with power, status and respect. These are all areas in our lives that we seek to dwell in, even for a few hours. It is in our desire to explore our own connection with divinity. It is in our respective physical space. One simply cannot enter into buildings with short ceilings while wearing a headdress. We need room to grow, room to contain our ever expanding consciousness.
To see headdresses I have created through naturally molted feather, head over to In Fine Feathers' Headdress Collection