Who Was Allowed to Wear Feathered Bonnets and What Did They Signify?

ask the marshall true west

Who was allowed to wear feathered bonnets and what did they signify?

Ken Sellers
Evant, Texas

Warriors were awarded feathers as the tribe’s acknowledgment of acts of bravery and honor—much like ribbons worn on military dress uniforms today. The meanings of individual feathers range from taking a scalp to counting coup (touching an enemy in battle) to capturing an enemy to being a battle leader to being wounded in battle.

feathered bonnets headdress medals black horn james lone elk sioux warriors true west magazine
Black Horn (seated) and James Lone Elk, both wearing headdresses and medals c1900.
– Library of Congress –

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu.

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