The Porcupine Headdress
No other headgear, with the exception of the Plains warbonnet, personifies the North American Indian as much as the hair roach. Historically, its distribution and use covered virtually all tribes of the Plains, Plateau, Great Lakes, and Eastern Woodlands cultural areas.
Paintings by artists in the 1830’s reflected the use of the hair roach at that early date, and contemporary use of the porky roach may be seen in the outfits of the Grass Dancer, Oklahoma Straight Dancer, Oklahoma Feather Dancer, Northern Traditional Dancer, and the Old Time dancer.
Among some Northern tribes, hair roaches were also made using moose hair and among the Missouri River tribes, short roaches made from the beards of the wild turkey were, and still are, quite popular.
Over the years, porky roaches have evolved in several ways. Many modern roaches have a base that is much longer than historic styles which ranged in length from 6″ to around 12″. Today, base lengths as long as 24″ are often used and rather than a solid color of red or white deer hair trim, many roaches feature bright colors such as turquoise, yellow, purple, pink and others. Another modern innovation is the use of “flashes” of color, which are basically stripes of different colors that are tied into the outer and/or inner row of deer hair.