A:  (Per Anton Treuer in Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask)

There are around five hundred distinct Indian tribes in North America, and their cultural beliefs are diverse. For many Native Americans, hair was viewed as a symbol of spiritual health and strength. Leonard Moose, an Ojibwe elder from Mille Lacs, said that hair was like medicine and if someone’s hair was cut, his or her medicine would leak out. Moose claimed that when he was a child, if someone had a haircut, the parents would usually use a hot rock to cauterize the wound on the child’s hair and prevent his or her medicine from draining away. Hair was a manifestation of spiritual strength or power but also a visible symbol of that power, and thus a source of pride and even vanity. All of these elements combine to provide a distinct cultural perspective about hair.

For most Indians, hair was only cut under certain circumstances. Meskwaki and Mohawk warriors plucked hair on the sides of the head, a developing tradition in wars where scalping was commonly practiced. Many Diné, or Navajo, cut children’s hair on their first birthday and then do not cut it again. They believe that the purity of childhood preserves spiritual strength and that the haircut will enable greater development of that strength as the child grows. Among some tribes, hair was cut as part of tribal mourning customs, but this practice was not universal.

You can imagine how it must have felt for many native children to have their hair cut against their will upon entrance into U.S. government–run boarding schools. Today, there are still many Native Americans who wear their hair long and carry the cultural belief that the hair is a symbol of spiritual strength.