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  #1  
Old 06-28-2010, 12:07 PM
Stink Fish Pot Stink Fish Pot is offline
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Do Native American men have facial hair?

In all the pictures of Native Americans I've seen, I can't remember one sporting a mustache and/or beard.

Hollywood has perpetuated this in their movies. I can't imagine the average Native American man got up in the morning and shaved his face clean before starting his day, but I can't discount it since I'm not one.

So, what's the Straight Dope?
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  #2  
Old 06-28-2010, 12:13 PM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is online now
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Most native americans have light facial hair. That makes shaving and plucking a lot easier. I grew up in Alaska, and lots of native guys I knew had a scraggly thin beard and mustache, but none of them could grow a thick full beard.
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Old 06-28-2010, 12:15 PM
Si Amigo Si Amigo is online now
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This may be a myth as well, but I recall reading that native american's did have some facial hair, but that it was not as thick as ours and that it was a cultural practice to actually pluck out what little they had with shellfish fragments. But this was from info I recall from the late sixties when they still had white guys like Chuck Conners playing Geronimo.
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Old 06-28-2010, 02:10 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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As has been said, male Native Americans often have some facial hair, but it is normally not nearly as dense as in male Caucasians or Africans. Often it amounts to a thin moustache and maybe a few strands on the chin. In some groups, it is the tradition to pluck it out; in others, many men may wear a moustache.
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  #5  
Old 06-28-2010, 06:30 PM
Stink Fish Pot Stink Fish Pot is offline
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
As has been said, male Native Americans often have some facial hair, but it is normally not nearly as dense as in male Caucasians or Africans. Often it amounts to a thin moustache and maybe a few strands on the chin. In some groups, it is the tradition to pluck it out; in others, many men may wear a moustache.
Before the days of the tweezer, did they pull or pluck the hair out as Si Amigo suggested with shellfish fragments?

Actually, there are two questions that come up here now that the first one was answered:

1) Was it the Native American culture to pluck the hairs out and keep the face clean, was it a matter of personal choice for each male, or did each nation (Sioux, Hopi, Seminole, etc) have their own rules for this?

2) How DID one pluck hair before the tweezer? I can't imagine plucking my mustache hair or beard hair with tweezers, yet alone something not designed to do it. (For an experiment, I used tweezers today and plucked a few hairs out of my face. NOT a pleasant way to shave).
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  #6  
Old 06-28-2010, 06:36 PM
AClockworkMelon AClockworkMelon is offline
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Originally Posted by Stink Fish Pot View Post
2) How DID one pluck hair before the tweezer? I can't imagine plucking my mustache hair or beard hair with tweezers, yet alone something not designed to do it. (For an experiment, I used tweezers today and plucked a few hairs out of my face. NOT a pleasant way to shave).
Keep in mind that you're soft and weak. I'm assuming it hurts for women who pluck, but, well, they get used to it.
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  #7  
Old 06-28-2010, 07:19 PM
CateAyo CateAyo is online now
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All of the above is true to a degree. Our beards are not very thick at all, but perhaps more uniform in some cases than one may be led to believe. I shave about once a week. I have a goatee but it was a several year project to make it look passable. Many Native men have whiskers.

Here is a picture of Swimmer, a Cherokee medicine carrier of the old days, taken in 1888. I have always heard he was full blood, but I don't know it for a fact. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sw...rvationist.png

Here is Leonard Peltier, a Sioux http://www.leonardpeltier.net/theman.htm
BTW, support of Leonard's cause and legal fees would be much appreciated.
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Old 06-28-2010, 08:10 PM
Stink Fish Pot Stink Fish Pot is offline
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Originally Posted by CateAyo View Post
All of the above is true to a degree. Our beards are not very thick at all, but perhaps more uniform in some cases than one may be led to believe. I shave about once a week. I have a goatee but it was a several year project to make it look passable. Many Native men have whiskers.

Here is a picture of Swimmer, a Cherokee medicine carrier of the old days, taken in 1888. I have always heard he was full blood, but I don't know it for a fact. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sw...rvationist.png

Here is Leonard Peltier, a Sioux http://www.leonardpeltier.net/theman.htm
BTW, support of Leonard's cause and legal fees would be much appreciated.

CateAyo, thank you for the post and the links!

Do you know of any tribe/nation rules or traditions pertaining to facial hair growth, or was it a matter of personal preference for each man?
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  #9  
Old 06-28-2010, 09:29 PM
Tarwater Tarwater is offline
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
As has been said, male Native Americans often have some facial hair, but it is normally not nearly as dense as in male Caucasians or Africans. Often it amounts to a thin moustache and maybe a few strands on the chin. In some groups, it is the tradition to pluck it out; in others, many men may wear a moustache.
I'm Native American, and your description is pretty accurate as to my ability to grow facial hair. It comes in thickest at the bottom of my chin and just beneath my lower lip, but by thickest, I mean it'll be a little longer than stubble if I go more than a week without shaving. Lately, I've been trying to see how long it will actually grow. I've gone six months without shaving. I have growth on the knob of my chin that extends slightly beneath my jaw but nowhere else. A very small moustache that's only slightly longer than the average male would keep a trimmed goatee. A small amount of hair just beneath my lower lip that is now 3/4 of an inch long and grows from a very narrow area that's basically a thin horizontal slit beneath the lip - there's no growth between that area and my chin. I cannot grow hair anywhere else on my face.

The hair on my arms and legs is noticeably thinner than other men's.

My experience is true to most male members of my family on my father's (Native) side.
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  #10  
Old 06-28-2010, 09:35 PM
JillGat JillGat is offline
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I had a boyfriend who was full-blooded Native American; Navajo on his dad's side; Pueblo tribe on his mom's side. He had very sparce facial hair, practically no hair on his arms, but hairy legs.
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  #11  
Old 06-28-2010, 09:40 PM
NetTrekker NetTrekker is offline
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It's pretty much the same with Asians, and Native Americans presumably crossed over from Asia...seems like there would be a pretty simple genetic explanation..

Not all Caucasians have thick beards either, but it seems every Middle-easterner does..
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  #12  
Old 06-28-2010, 10:03 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Originally Posted by NetTrekker View Post
It's pretty much the same with Asians, and Native Americans presumably crossed over from Asia...seems like there would be a pretty simple genetic explanation..

Not all Caucasians have thick beards either, but it seems every Middle-easterner does..
Fairly burly mustaches are common in Mexico. I'm not sure whether that indicates mixing with Europeans or if people further South evolved the ability or came from a line with more facial hair.
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Last edited by Sage Rat; 06-28-2010 at 10:04 PM..
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  #13  
Old 06-29-2010, 12:54 AM
Nava Nava is online now
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Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
Fairly burly mustaches are common in Mexico. I'm not sure whether that indicates mixing with Europeans or if people further South evolved the ability or came from a line with more facial hair.
In Mexicacn mestizos or whites, not on "indian faces". The Pancho Villa moustache pretty much requires a grandfather from Europe to be able to grow.

Last edited by Nava; 06-29-2010 at 12:54 AM..
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  #14  
Old 06-29-2010, 02:00 AM
Alessan Alessan is offline
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Is there an element of social status involved? Did the Mexican custom of growing moustaches come from a desire to prove European ancestry?
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  #15  
Old 06-29-2010, 02:01 AM
Nava Nava is online now
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No idea, it's not like you need it to show the ancestry; it comes from a time when men in the Western world would usually have beards, moustaches, handlebars... and hasn't disappeared as much as it has elsewhere. The moustache's nickname is a clue about why its popular: it's sort of a patriotic moustache, for some of its wearera. And there's always the possibility of a full-blooded indian getting the "facial hair" gene, but it might lead to arguments about who the actual father really was, if the actual Dad doesn't have it.

Last edited by Nava; 06-29-2010 at 02:05 AM..
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  #16  
Old 06-29-2010, 07:57 AM
Toxylon Toxylon is offline
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Many West Coast Natives had substantial facial hair, up to long, full beards, based on photos from the 1800's / early 1900's.
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  #17  
Old 06-29-2010, 05:30 PM
CateAyo CateAyo is online now
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Originally Posted by Stink Fish Pot View Post
CateAyo, thank you for the post and the links!

Do you know of any tribe/nation rules or traditions pertaining to facial hair growth, or was it a matter of personal preference for each man?
I've never heard of specific tribal norms, one way or the other. They may very well exist, but no one I associate with seems to be aware of prohibitions. Native America is, and was, however, very diverse.
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  #18  
Old 06-29-2010, 05:35 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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I once jokingly asked a Navajo acquaintance of mine why he had facial hair. He told me it "comes from eating the white man's food."
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Old 06-29-2010, 06:06 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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In this movie with an all-Inuit cast, The Fast Runner, many of the male characters had mustaches.
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  #20  
Old 06-29-2010, 06:12 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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General Ely Parker (a Seneca and Union General who was at Lee's Surrender)

While I've seen many Asians with beards and moustaches, it's not nearly as common and they're usually not as thick as those of people with European and African ancestry. I wonder if there was an adaptation advantage to them not growing thick facial hair. (It seems a no-brainer that people whose ancestors lived in cold climates for umpteen thousand years probably develop thicker facial hair, but it doesn't seem to be evidenced by the Inuits or Siberians.)
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  #21  
Old 06-29-2010, 06:14 PM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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Since only males have thick facial hair, it would seem to be more of a sex selection thing than an environmental adaptation.
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  #22  
Old 06-29-2010, 09:50 PM
conurepete conurepete is offline
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Married a man with Blackfoot blood. He did not shave regularly before age 30. My grandmother could grow a mustache quicker.
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  #23  
Old 11-13-2013, 01:08 PM
sailaway sailaway is offline
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Do Native American men have facial hair?

In 1974, I did my first real exploring of Florida. One night on Alligator Alley between Hollywood, FL and Naples, my car broke down late at night and I was taken in with my young son by a Seminole woman who lived nearby. I got to know several bands of Seminoles after that...lucky me. I was struck by the men's facial hair, much more evident than in any other tribe I have ever seen in the Americas. Not thick or lush, mind you...just more over the lip and on the chin, especially. I remember an old book in the Dade County library special collections written by a minister-teacher at the beginning of the 20th century who postulated that they were of a lost tribe of Israel due to such things as facial hair, their name for the Great Spirit sounds just like Yahweh and they have a day of atonement. Charming book. They are a very private and interesting people. The only tribe that never made peace with the US govt and which has never gotten one 'red' cent from them.
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  #24  
Old 11-13-2013, 01:31 PM
harmonicamoon harmonicamoon is offline
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The Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula don't have facial, axillary, or pubic hair.
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  #25  
Old 11-13-2013, 01:35 PM
md2000 md2000 is online now
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http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/winnipe...told-1.1401245

This fellow was in the Canadian news the last few months due to the inquest... there's a picture of Murray Sinclair halfway down. He seems to have the typical "Charles Bronson" look, and IIRC he's full native. This would be northern Cree I think.

(I think I read once that he suffered from type II diabetes like many of the natives not yet adapted to a high-carb modern diet.)
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  #26  
Old 11-13-2013, 04:55 PM
Sarabellum1976 Sarabellum1976 is offline
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Didn't the Sioux/Lakota have a word for "white people" that translated more closely as "hair-mouths"? Indicating that this was a notable difference of the groups, even way back when.
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  #27  
Old 11-13-2013, 05:31 PM
snowthx snowthx is offline
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Just now I was wodering if zombies have facial hair as well.
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Old 11-13-2013, 06:57 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailaway View Post
I remember an old book in the Dade County library special collections written by a minister-teacher at the beginning of the 20th century who postulated that they were of a lost tribe of Israel due to such things as facial hair, their name for the Great Spirit sounds just like Yahweh and they have a day of atonement.
Rather unlikely, since the Seminoles as a tribe didn't even exist before the 1700s. They were originally made up of refugees from other tribes plus some escaped slaves and a few whites. They most likely have more African and European ancestry than many other tribes which could account for their facial hair.
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Old 11-13-2013, 07:23 PM
rogerbox rogerbox is offline
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/winnipe...told-1.1401245

This fellow was in the Canadian news the last few months due to the inquest... there's a picture of Murray Sinclair halfway down. He seems to have the typical "Charles Bronson" look, and IIRC he's full native. This would be northern Cree I think.

(I think I read once that he suffered from type II diabetes like many of the natives not yet adapted to a high-carb modern diet.)
Charles Bronson is not native at all, his parents are Lithuanian.
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  #30  
Old 11-13-2013, 07:44 PM
sisu sisu is offline
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I'm sure it varies across populations, as I am half eastern Finn (karelian) I have very little body hair compared to a lot of my peers from other parts of Europe. So to say Native American is a single genetic group sharing common characteristics may not be accurate?
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Old 11-14-2013, 07:02 PM
TBG TBG is offline
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Originally Posted by snowthx View Post
Just now I was wodering if zombies have facial hair as well.
Only if they had it while still living.
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  #32  
Old 11-15-2013, 06:30 PM
hmarvin hmarvin is offline
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Charles Bronson is not native at all, his parents are Lithuanian.
His father was Lithuanian Tatar.
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  #33  
Old 11-15-2013, 06:35 PM
hmarvin hmarvin is offline
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I'm sure it varies across populations, as I am half eastern Finn (karelian) I have very little body hair compared to a lot of my peers from other parts of Europe. So to say Native American is a single genetic group sharing common characteristics may not be accurate?
This might surprise you, but the Finns hacve a hundred and two genes, if I remember right, that aren't found among Europeans, Asians, or Africans. but are quite common among my people (Native Americans).
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  #34  
Old 11-15-2013, 07:43 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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This might surprise you, but the Finns hacve a hundred and two genes, if I remember right, that aren't found among Europeans, Asians, or Africans. but are quite common among my people (Native Americans).
It surprises me so much I would like to see a peer-reviewed cite for that. I have never heard anything like that, and it seems extremely unlikely based on the history of those populations.
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  #35  
Old 11-16-2013, 08:01 AM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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Accounts from early explorers to the Amazon basin (Francisco Orellana, e.g.) describe indigenous men as having almost no facial hair. Indeed, the full beards of the Spanish set them apart quite distinctly.

The extent of admixture and extinction of "pure" native genes makes it difficult to find very good representatives of those original indigenous peoples. However if you look at (nearly) uncontacted groups, you can get an idea of how sparse facial hair is.

I believe this guy is a Dslala, from the Vale Javari area in Brazil near the Quixito River.

Smithsonian article on that group here , with some photos.

Another article w/ photos.

Last edited by Chief Pedant; 11-16-2013 at 08:04 AM..
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  #36  
Old 11-16-2013, 12:12 PM
Steophan Steophan is offline
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It surprises me so much I would like to see a peer-reviewed cite for that. I have never heard anything like that, and it seems extremely unlikely based on the history of those populations.
I don't see anything that suggests that that particular claim is true, but the Sami are a distinct population in northern Scandinavia and Finland. Here's a Wiki page on them.
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Old 11-17-2013, 10:52 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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I don't see anything that suggests that that particular claim is true, but the Sami are a distinct population in northern Scandinavia and Finland. Here's a Wiki page on them.
I'm aware of the Sami (better known as Lapps). However, the majority of them live in Norway and Sweden, with only a comparatively small number in Finland. The article on their population genetics indicates a relationship with Europeans and Asians, and none is mentioned with Native Americans.

In any case, hmarvin's claim was about the Finns themselves, rather than the Sami. Finns show some genetic relationship to Siberian peoples, but there is no mention of any relationship to Native Americans.

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Finns show very little if any Mediterranean and African genes but on the other hand almost 10% of Finnish genes seem to be shared with Siberian populations. Nevertheless more than 80% of Finnish genes are from a single ancient Northeastern European population, while most Europeans are a mixture of 3 or more principal components.[42]
I could believe that some alleles are shared between Finns, northern Asians, and Native Americans that are not shared with other Europeans. However, it would be very unlikely for alleles to appear in only Finns and Native Americans while not appearing in any Asians.
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