Ten years ago, Michael Langley decided to grow his hair out. Langley is a member of The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Grand Ronde, Oregon, a tribe that was established, terminated, and restored by the federal government. Already a conglomeration of multiple tribes and various languages throughout the northwest, the Tribe has struggled for an identity amidst a generation of elders who were so successfully assimilated that their traditions, ceremonies, and oral histories were largely lost - their generation-weaving voices silenced.
Langley grew up in Tillamook, Oregon where his grandfather moved to find work; he attended Portland State University and now serves as auditor of the Spirit Mountain Casino. He has returned to the reservation with the vision of seeing his people create a new identity for themselves: an identity both relevant and meaningful.
In this piece Langley explains the symbolic context that growing his hair has provided to both his personal and tribal identity as a modern Indian.
The Tribe has created a great multimedia interactive tool that can be found at grandronde.org/ikanum/index.html