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Native American Women and the Importance of Braids

Native American women of the Plateau region, which encompasses parts of present-day Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and surrounding areas, have a rich cultural tradition that often found expression in their attire and personal grooming. One striking aspect of their hairstyle was the practice of wearing their hair with a middle part, usually divided into two braids. This distinctive hairstyle symbolized profound cultural values of balance and equality. The middle part represented a perfect equilibrium, both in the physical sense of parting the hair down the center and in a deeper spiritual and societal sense. It embodied the idea of harmony between individuals, tribes, and the natural world. Native American societies, particularly in the Plateau region, placed a high premium on collective well-being, cooperation, and unity, and this hairstyle was a reflection of those principles. It wasn't until later that one-sided parts, influenced by external fashion trends and colonial influences, began to gain prominence. Despite these changes, the traditional middle-parted, two-braided hairstyle remains an enduring symbol of the enduring cultural heritage and values of Native American women of the Plateau region.

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