War bonnet (or headdress) is a feathered headgear traditionally worn by male leaders of the American Plains Indians Nations who have earned a place of great respect in their tribe. Originally sometimes worn into battle, but now primarily used for ceremonial occasions. Now seen as a great spiritual and political importance, only to be worn by those who have earned the right and honour through formal recognition by their people. Native American tribes consider the presentation of an eagle feather to be one of their highest marks of respect. Any honored person must have earned their feather through selfless acts of courage and honor, or been gifted them in gratitude for their work or service to their tribe. Traditional deeds that brought honor would include acts of valor in battle, but also political and diplomatic gains or acts that helped their community survive and prosper. The esteem attached to eagle feathers was so high that in many cases, such as a warrior (e.g. Dog Soldiers of the Cheyenne), only two or three honor feathers might be awarded in their whole lifetime. Historically, the warrior who was the first to touch an enemy in battle and escape unscathed received an eagle feather. When enough feathers were collected, they might be incorporated into a headdress or some other form of worn regalia. Headdresses were usually reserved exclusively for the tribe's chosen political and spiritual leaders.
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