‘Keep the medicine going’: Polson teacher inspires boys to wear hair long

Rod First Strike, cultural specialist in Polson, is encouraging young boys to wear their hair long. 


In 2021, when Rod First Strike was working as a cultural specialist at Linderman Elementary in Polson, he noticed a lot of kindergarten and first-grade boys were being teased for wearing their hair long.

Hair holds significance in Indigenous cultures. It’s seen as a source of strength, connecting Native Americans to their ancestors. And often, when a loved one dies, Native people may choose to cut their hair short to symbolize the profound loss. Some say long hair is a sign of resilience, as Native people were forced to cut their hair short as a form of assimilation in government-run boarding schools. And in some places, long hair remains controversial. A network of charter schools in North Carolina has a policy prohibiting male students from wearing long hair, and the Native American Rights Fund intervened, urging the school to “permanently remove the discriminatory and outdated assimilationist policy.”

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