Mohawk * Oneida * Onondaga * Cayuga * Seneca * Tuscarora


Mike McDonald


Members of the Thunder Hawk Dancers

Written by Kanatiiosh

Haudenosaunee Men's Clothing

In describing Haudenosaunee clothing, let me begin with the headwear.  Many people mistakenly think that all Native American Indians wore plains style war bonnets, which is untrue. 

This myth began in the early part of the 1900's to the 1950's when photographers wanted Haudenosaunee people to wear war bonnets when posing for pictures because they thought it looked more "Indian."  This has lead to old pictures of Haudenosaunee people in war bonnets and even some showing us in tipis, which is misleading.  I even have a picture of my great uncle wearing a war bonnet. 

The Haudenosaunee did not live in tipis, we lived in bark covered longhouses.  The Iroquois men did not wear plains style war bonnets.  

The Haudenosaunee have their own type of feathered headwear, which is quite beautiful.  In the Mohawk language, this feather style hat is called a Kastoweh (gah sto wha).  These hats are still worn today.   


Kastoweh (Feathered Hat)

The Kastoweh has a frame that is made from three black ash splints. One splint wraps around the head. The second splint runs from north to south, and it is bowed to fit over and around the top of the head. The third splint runs from east to west, and it is also bowed. Then both strips are secured to the splint that runs around the head with sinew. This makes a wonderful frame.

 Sometimes the top of the splint frame is covered with deer skin, or today it is covered with cloth. The outside of the headband was traditionally decorated with Haudenosaunee symbols, and it was usually done with porcupine quills or wampum beads.

 In later years, after European contact with traders, a band of silver was designed and attached. When glass beads were introduced, some kastoweh bands were beaded. 

Today one might see any of the aforementioned bands attached to the Haudenosaunee feathered hat. The Haudenosaunee also wore fur headdresses as well as deer hair roaches.

My 6 mo. old nephew Sawatis wearing a kastoweh that I made for him

Click picture to go home

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Created February 18, 2000; Updated August 2001


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