Friday, July 12, 2013

Eastern Woodland Feather Headbands

Native American Headdresses
Native Americans are well known for their headdresses.  Iconic images of Native Americans often include Feather Headbands, but the men and women of the  Eastern Woodland tribes were the only ones that wore them.  Plains men often wore elaborate feather warbonnets.  These also have become almost caricatured by modern depictions, but to be permitted to wear one of these was a high honor earned by a brave warrior.  In contrast, Pacific coast tribes did not wear feathers at all.  Their headwear was more cap-like, and woven from local roots and vines. Unlike the Plains headdresses that were worn only by men, California and Plateau tribal hats were reserved for women. Almost no children in any tribe wore headdresses; they were reserved for adults or warriors.

Most headdresses helped people identify each other.  The Woodland headbands and the western hats were often designed to reflect the wearer's tribe and accomplishments.  Southern Plains men wore a ceremonial hat made of otter skin that would record their achievements as warriors, or as descendants of a great chief.  However, while the Plains and western natives headdresses were reserved for great honors, the Woodland's feathered band was an accessory worn to show off the beautiful designs they contained.  Most were made out of beaded or woven leather, tied above the brow, and a feather or two tucked in the back.  Any beautiful feather was worn, though tribes that bordered the Plains borrowed the customs of their neighbors and reserved eagle feathers for warriors.

In the spirit of the Lenape tribes who settled in our area, we made Eastern Woodland feather bands.  Ours are made of brown Kraft paper*, and decorated with less-traditional ribbons, glitter, and plastic jewels.  Tucked in the back are bright feathers.  This craft can be adjusted for multiple ages - simple glue-on decorations for the younger ones, or copying/coloring more elaborate details for older students.  For younger ones, it's also a great time to work on pattern copying.

*We found a roll of brown Kraft paper was best for making these headbands from.  It's already leather colored, and very sturdy.  The rolls also provide the ability to make strips long enough to fit around the wearer's head without piecing smaller ones together.

Feather Headbands

Materials Needed:

Roll of Kraft paper
Items to decorate with (crayons/markers, glitter, beads, ribbon pieces, etc.)
Craft feathers


Unroll a length of paper. (You may need another set of hands to help.)

Cut a one to two inch wide strip from the roll of paper for each person.

Wrap it snugly around the wearer's head, leaving a one inch overlap. Trim excess.

Decorate the strip with drawn designs, glitter, pieces of ribbon, beads, etc.  Allow to dry completely.

making Eastern Woodlands style headbands
Tape two to four feathers to one end.

Wrap strip around your head again,  overlapping the ends.  Lap them so the feathers are sandwiched between the layers. Tape the ends together to tack the size.

  Remove the band and staple the ends to secure well.

feathered headbands in the style of the Lenape

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  1. Those turned out great!

  2. These are great! I love the teamwork in the pictures.

  3. Awesome They look great!!! :)

  4. Wow, what a great post and I love the headdresses! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

  5. What a cute way to make personalized head bands!

  6. I love how the feather headbands turned out! They look beautiful.

  7. Thanks for linking at Pintastic Pinteresting Party. These are cute.


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