Since the day I I became Xakiji (Chief) I have worn a cowboy hat. It has become my trademark and I am seldom seen without it.
So why the hat? Quite simply, It is a symbol of leadership.
Leadership has many symbols. Within our Nation there is also “long ago societies” that still exist. Societies were there to guide people into roles that had responsibilities to keep the people alive and prosper. It determined society structure, leadership, police and warrior roles, spiritual guidance, Hunting and gathering duties, and place within the community. Everyone learned and knew what they were responsible to and for.
Many Chiefs on the prairie will wear a hat and in other areas of the country they will use another symbol to distinguish themselves. For some it will be a medallion and others it will be a vest or article of clothing. Wearing a war bonnet would be impractical now wouldn’t it?
The hat also represents belonging to a particular society now known in modern times as the “COWBOY SOCIETY” in our community. Nowadays, all those that participate in the sport of rodeo belong to that society and special recognition is always given to them.
It is the continuation of an older society known as the:”TALL HATS”. Before everything was either taken away, sent to residential school, or otherwise discouraged there had to be a way of keeping things alive. So instead of wearing large headdresses they converted them to the Old style cowboy hats that had high crowns and then became known as the tall hats because they focused on horses, and ranching.
The “Tall Hat/Cowboy Society” have their own songs and they are sung in public events. They are always to provide many things for the Nation and held a high responsibility to the people.
I am part of the Cowboy Society.