Porcupine Roach

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I looked up roach on the various search engines and all I got was Papa Roach, Roach clothing, and cockroaches. Not a peep about porcupine hair roaches not even on Wikipedia. That’s awful.

Here’s the history of the porcupine roach which is a Native American headdress made out of porcupine guard hair and deer hair. Sometimes roaches are made out of skunk hair (instead of deer hair) and I’ve heard the very early ones were made out of turkey beard hair.

Porcupine roaches are what essentially every modern Native American pow wow dancer wears on their head, except for the women and not all Southern Straight dancers (who wear a hat made out of otter fur).

Most roaches are between 15″ and 24″ long, mine is 24″. It’s broken down like this, an inside layer of deer hair, a main row of porcupine hair, another row of porcupine hair in the front, and then a layer of deer hair on the outside. Traditional deer hair colors are red all around or white all around but modern roaches have some bits of color on them.

Roaches cost about $300-$500 or $75+ for a roach kit. I’ve made two roaches, one I still have and one that was 15″ that I sold a long time ago. They take forever to make. The hardest part is sorting the hair. You have to sort the hair in .5″ groupings from 5″ all the way to 11″ – that by itself could take you a week to do. Probably takes a month to build out a roach.

To put on a roach the right way, you have to have long hair. You take a braid of your hair, put it through the hole in the roach, and secure the roach down with your hair and a roach pin. I’m talking about a different roach pin…I don’t have long hair so I use leather laces.

The finishing touch to the roach is a couple of eagle feathers secured via a spreader. The spreader is supposed to spread the roach hairs so that it fans out and looks cool, versus sticking straight up and looking not so cool.

So that’s a porcupine roach.

58 thoughts on “Porcupine Roach”

  1. Thank you for the information it is good to see more info out there. I myself have a hard time finding things.

  2. Hi,
    I am having a problem, my mother-in-law, has been trying to make a roach from her grandson, and the instructions and pictures dont help. All she needs is someone to show her how to do it, then she can finish it on her own. If there is anyway you could help us. I know their video’s out there, but they are like 25+. You help is appreciated.

    Amber

  3. Well, where are you located? Putting a roach together isn’t easy, there’s a reason why they cost $500 – $1000. My roach isn’t great, though the one I have now is my 3rd roach I’ve made and I think it’s ok. I haven’t built a roach in years though.

    Probably best to buy one from a roach maker. Talk to someone directly, don’t go through a store.

    Send me an email if you want to talk about it some more.

  4. I’ve been making roaches since I was a kid. The reason why roach instructions aren’t that good to follow is because they were designed from a white man involved with scouts. Don’t get me wrong because I’m a mixed blood, but nothing beats oral one on one traditions. It usually only takes me 3-8 hrs to make a roach and that’s even for a 22 inch inside/outside. I will be listing a lot of roaches coming up if any one wants one. But I’m fluent in over 3,000 types of crafts. So, I like to make a variety of regalia items.

  5. Crazy Crow has some good roach kits. Wesly TwoEagles, Come on bro’, 3-8 hrs? Anyhow, later, from the true Plateau region and home of the Pendleton Blanket—Umatilla Rez, Pendleton OR.

  6. I am a single mom with 2 boys and I’ve been trying to help my boys keep up their traditional dance – both boys need a roach headdress – and we are willing to learn how to make them – but we need some direction – please help – thank you

  7. They’re not easy to make. Crazy Crow has kits that are pretty good, as Cliff mentioned. They take a long time to make. I’m no means a roach maker, and this is my third roach above (I sold my first two).

    I would try and buy them if you can afford it.

  8. Hello i just came across this site.. i too have been making them aLL my life and i can tell you its hard and a long process if done right.. it takes me about hmm at the very least 20 to 30 straight hours to make one.. about 20 inches long.. the old package kits give the crapy hair so.. hers a few tips.. porkies breed in the night of fall where i live.. if you go out at night you can always catch them on the roads or feilds.. push their heads down and pluck what ya need.. get whitetails from hide drop boxes in the winter.. freeze em till you need em.. and use hot water die.. the cold swater stuff suks.. it comes off easy. as for the actual technique of it all. well its a trial and earror thing.. but use synthtic sinue for the thread.. and the lil cotton stuff for the middle. contact me if ya need more help.

  9. I need to know how to secure the roach feathers into the spreader. I have a metal spreader with two places for feathers which have thin flat rods coming up. I figure you put the shaft of the feathers down over the thin flat rods, but is that secure enough to hold them in place for a Straight dancer, especially after several dances?

  10. good info, I’m getting my supplies together to make my first roach this winter. I’ll start gathering porky hair and deer tails in Oct. Hopefully I’ll have enough by December and I’ll see how it goes. I dance with a small roach that was gifted to me a few years back. I’m making a Traditional Bustle and I want a larger roach to go with it.

  11. I remember the first time I tied deer hair it took me all night to tie 8″ I was not going to bed until my tying looked like my husbands (who had been tying hair since he was 16 and even then it took him 2 years to finish his first roach)I thought it look oK for a first timer but far from my husbands. I am not a person who you can say “can’t be done” I struggled through that first string, but I had the time we were expecting our first child and wasn’t working. Our oldest is 17.5 and I am still tying. If my husband and I have an order we have a race he will tie the porky hair and I the deer hair. Guess who wins?…..he does! I am usually busy with getting dinner on or helping the children with something but this has only made me faster…..I can tie a 39″ string of single color deer haird in 2.5 hours or if it has many colors it will take me 3.0 hours. If I am tying porky hair it will take me 3 to 4 hours for the 39″ sting due to breaks and the different hair lengths. I have yet to master or even attempt to sew them together. My husband is the expert at that one.

  12. BEWARE OF WESLY TWO EAGLES, HE IS A FRAUD, HE CLAIMS TO BE A REGISTERED CHEROKEE, BUT HE HAS NO INTEGRITY. HE SOLD A ROACH TO A YOUNG MAN ON EBAY FOR $207 BUT NEVER DELIVERED THE ROACH THAT HE TOOK THE MONEY FOR. HE PROMISED THE YOUNG MAN’S MOTHER, ELIZABETH WHITE DOVE LOPEZ, THAT HE WOULD SEND THE ROACH, BUT IT HAS NEVER COME. HE NEEDS TO DO THE RIGHT THING, EITHER SEND THE ROACH OR THE MONEY. I WILL CONTINUE TO PURSUE HIM UNTIL HE DOES. I WILL CONTACT EVERY POWWOW, EVERY TRIBE EVERY ORGASNIZATION I CAN TO WARN THEM OF HIS DISRECPECTFUL AND DISHONEST BEHAVIOR.

  13. I unfortunately am another victim of Wesly Two Eagles. My son worked hard to purchase a roach. We paid the 220.00 for a rainbow roach and have yet to recieve it. We have tried many times to contact him and he promised to deliver. but we have yet to get anything. the good thing is that this person that takes money and does not deliver closed his website. He is however advertizing via My Space. So as the statement before mine says buyer beware of Wesly Two Eagles.

  14. If anyone knows how to get in contact with this phony thief, Wesly Two Eagles Wright, please let me know. This person claims to be a Cherokee and Apache, he is dishonest, has no integrity or honor. He is ripping people off and needs to be stopped. He claims to be a traditional dancer, if he shows up at any events he needs to be run off. He is nothing but a fraud. He will not return emails, his phone has been disconnected, but he is still trying to “sell” items.Please help stop this disgrace. I wounder what his Uncle, who he claims to have lived on a reservation with, would think of how he is stealing and lying? If I don’t hear from Wesly soon I will be calling his Uncle & BYU-Idaho, where he claims to be a student.
    Marty Soaring Eagle Martin

  15. I have a current address for Wesly Two Eagles Wright. I sent a certified letter and his address was posted by Beth Wright on the return letter. If anyone would like it let me know I would be happy to send it. It seems we are all having the same issues with this person. If you hear from him please let me know as well. Thanks, Diana

  16. Yes, Diana I definitely want Wesly’s address. I have been posting evry where I can to try to get the snake to come out of his hole and act like a man. Evidently he is not only a liar and a thief but he is also a coward. He is really sitting a great example for his children.

  17. I HAVE SENT A LETTER TO THE THIEF’S WIFE IN HOPES THAT SHE CAN GET HIM TO DO THE RIGHT THING AND SEND BACK THE MONEY HE HAS STOLEN. I HAVE ALSO EMAILED THE PRESIDENT OF BYU-IDAHO TO INFORM HIM OF THE UNEWTHICAL PRACTICES OF THIS LOW LIFE. I SHALL NOT REST UNTIL HE ACTS LIKE A MAN AND RETURNS ALL THE MONEY.

    Marty Soaring Eagle

  18. hi,I have been makeing roachs for over 20 yrs,yes it is not easy to make,I have got it down to 5 hours for 22″ roach.but my first roach took me 1 mouth half,my oldest son was only 3 yrs old,he is now 24.my youngest son is 21,he helps me with roachs.together we can build 4 to 6 roachs in a week.I came across this site looking for porcupine guard hair,so if anyone knows of anyone selling,please contack me at yazzieroach@yahoo.com I also build for people,if thay there own hair I only charge for laber.

  19. Well, I am happy to say Mr Wright has contacted White Dove, the mother of the young man that he sold a roach to on Ebay, and has promised, once again to ship the roach. If it comes, and is worth the money that it cost, I will gladly inform everyone and see if I can have my posts removed. I hope that he will also contact the other person who stated that they too were owed a roach.

  20. Well, it looks like the lies continue, Mr Wright has done wrong again and now I am really upset. He called White Dove almost a month ago and promised the roach would be forth coming, well guess what no roach, no call, no email, nothing. I was willing to retract everything I had posted about him, but now I shall increase my efforts to get the lying, thieving snake to come out of his hole and do the right thing, either the roach or the money. I shall next be contacting his grandfather to see if he can get him to be a man and do the honorable thing.

  21. You know it’s bad enough when a white man cheats, lies and steals from a Native American, but we have come to expect that, but when it is someone who claims to be a Native American who does the lying, cheating and stealing, it is hard to swallow. Come on Wesly, be a man, even if you aren’t a Human Being, show a little honor and integrity for once and give the young man what you owe him, either send the roach or the money, but this thing has gone on long enough. You won’t be able to get back into college until this matter is settled. At least call me and let me know why you aren’t fulfilling your promise. My number is 502-966-9049, you can even call me collect.

  22. Well, he finally did it. I am happy to say that finally after almost a year, Wesly has come through with the roach. From what I have been told he did a good job on it. I hope that he will do the right thing for the other young man he owes a roach. I also hope that from now on he treats all of his customers in an ethical manner with hnor and intergrity.

    Marty Soaring Eagle

  23. What people don’t realize is sometimes my orders can get backed up to a year and a half… All my items are hand made, and sometimes I get large orders from trading posts, museums,collectors,and whole families that order fully beaded regalia of all kinds, so 1 order could take several weeks to make… I do have a list of back orders but I try to get them out as soon as possible… Sometimes supplies run dry, and I have to wait until they come in due to seasons, or molting… I am working on getting my websites redesigned, so that they will be more professional, and of easier usage… If I owe you a order, then I promise you it’s being taken care of!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Being 26 and having the responsibility of a full family,higher education,and running a business is hard enough when my diabetes isn’t slowing me down, but that’s the curse that I have taken on, and I focus more on helping my people than making large profits… So, if anyone thinks that I’m a thief, or a liar, then I’m sorry, but everything takes time, and there are only 24 hrs in a day… What happened to being on indian time…. Just Kidding! But seriously, if someone has ever placed an order you will be guarenteed the items… And if it’s a roach, and it’s been after 6 months to a year, then I always upgrade the size to allow for growth periods of an individual.

    Tali Awohali(Two Eagles)

  24. Wesly,
    I am reminded of two old sayings, “don’t bite off more than you can chew,” and” if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” When you do business with people, whether it be a business or an individual, they want the product they have paid for in a timely manner. If you don’t have the materials of time to fill their order, than don’t take on the order. Also you need to learn to communicate with people, I sent you at least 6 emails with no response, that looks like you were avoiding the issue. Your post hurts your business, if you are almost 2 years behind on filling you orders why should anyone place an order with you.I’m sorry about your physical problems, but we all have situations to deal with and you made the choice to start a business, therefore you willingly took on the responsibility of operating it properly.

  25. I seen someone on a comment said they needed help makin a roach i’m currently making a 40inch porky roach for myself if they still need help stringing up the hair or stitching it to the roach base please feel free to email me at millelacsdecent@yahoo.com “miigwetch”

  26. No and I never will order from you. Also I, unlike you, was elected Chief. And I serve the People, not fleece them.

  27. We make roaches from 4″-36″. If your looking for a good quality roach give us a ring. We have roaches listed on powwows.com in the trading post section under outfits.
    Sgi
    Brad

  28. If your looking for quality Turkey Beard Roaches, or Bone spreaders please stop by Cattail Trading Post cattailtradingpost.com We have a large selection of Indian Made Turkey Beard Roaches. We also have other items as well. If your looking for help in selling your roaches give send us an email and we can talk about that as well.

    Thank you,

    Tom

  29. With respect I post my thoughts on the above problem. If a person has a business, and they make good work, Traditional work, respecting the “Old Ones”, one might consider my way of doing this business. If a man comes to me and asks me to make him a Roach or any other piece and offers to give me money up front, I refuse to take it. I tell him that I will make what he wants and when I am done, if he likes it, then he can pay me. I do my work in the Old Ways and have belief that if I try hard , my Brother will like what I have made for him. So far I have had no bad feelings as I tell them up front, “I am slow but with prayer,and sweat it will be worth the wait”, Yokoke, from an old man.

  30. Well, I went out last weekend and got guard hairs from 5 porcupines. I just ran ’em down the tree and yoked them with a forked stick. I pulled what I needed and released the porcupine. Unlike some people who call a white person a liar, a cheat, a thief, or anything else mean spirited…………it’s time to quit with this kind of garbage. Like myself, I have a respect for the Lakota people and have many friends on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Instead of lumping people into a category why not make friends instead of ignorance. As far as that goes, I also bring semi-tractor loads of clothing, blankets, building materials, and food for people who don’t have anything on the Pine Ridge. My buddy Marty came down to Colorado to help me gather the guard hairs needed to make a roach so I could learn how to make one and let him take it to the Black Hills Pow Wow this weekend.

  31. I learned to make roachs from my dad I like him have it down to 5 to 6 hours. But supplies do run scarce and family gets in the way from time to time. Not to mention work and other things. Point being is yes i owe a few roachs to people and it will get done in a good way soon. But if you dont know or cant make a roach or do bead work or have the slightest crafty bone dont get down on people. Bashing people makes you look ignorant and pestery like a little kid. Ruining someones life of college over a shitty 300 or 400 dollars that can be replaced is stupid. They print money everyday and everday its spent stolen and still more money is made. Right it off and learn from it dont be dumb and ruin someones college and cry to everyone that is willing to listen.

  32. Marty Soaring Eagle i dont think you can talk i have emailed you i don’t know the times and have got nothing back from you i been getting emails saying you want me to donate some money to your so called tribe.i have email you back ever time that i have gotin one of this emails to tell you that if i was in your tribe i did not get a letter or any thing saying that i was.. and on your tribal application why would you ask for the last to number in some ones social security i just don’t think that’s a good thing to give to someone.WADO

  33. I liked the comment by Gerald C. He takes an order but no cash up frontand if the customer likes it, fine! If not, that’s O.K. too. He still has a piece of craftwork to sell. What I like to do if a person is on a tight budget is work out a payment plan well within their budget so I can fill their needs without handycapping them in any way.
    Bob E

  34. from what i know growing up i was told that roaches are made from porcupine guard hair and buck tail hair.which porcupine has the longest guard hair?i was in vermont and saw a lot of roadkill porcupines and it seemedt5hat the hair wasnt long at all.maybe the ones from out west are longer.and the buck tail the same thing.out west seems they are longer hair?could you answer my question?

  35. Yeah the claim to do a big roach in 8hrs is insane. out here the way we do it is to take the hair directly from the hide(AFTER you remove the quills!) as opposed to buying bundles of unassorted hair. the porcupine itself arranges them by size fairly well and its still gonna take a good bit more than 8hrs(!), but this does cut down on the time required to make one.We trap out here, but you can usually get a good size hide without quills for $30-40.

  36. I was to find some insight into roach making so I maybe see some tying methods, and stitching methods. Different people have learned different ways of doing things for the result. Anyway a lot of controversy going on, as usual. Aye. The one fellow says you can pin the porky down with a fork stick or whatever and strip the hair you need off ’em. Like my sister in law used to say, her “Ugga’s” use to throw a old blanked on a porky or a burlap, and a million quills would come off that way. I’ve shot and trapped a couple over the years. But you can’t get in front of a lively Porkypine. He’ll turn on a dime and keep his back to you, his eyes see to behind him. He’ll whirl and whirl, and take off for a tree. Good luck with the stick trick, you’ll have to be fast. See you.

  37. Still no history. In all likeliness this word comes from a middle French word for a rolled up brush of hair, or bristled hair. De Champlain, De Rochfort, and LaSalle were known through the Great Lakes regions as documenting our peoples ways from Canada into the Carribean. In the early 1800’s Charles Bonaparte (Napoleon’s nephew) came to the Americas recording newbird species and may have used the name roach because of the spiked bristles (te origin of the fish roach is sketchy, but dates to this period). The French were known to be close allies among the Great Lakes people. From our perspective it seems obvious this object denotes some sign of power, or energy, like a crown. The only other culture with such a comparison are the Hindu chakres signifying energy permations from atop the brain, or skull. The Osage continue the practice of “roaching” during their Hethuska ceremonies. Please send me comments. I have spoken. Aho!

  38. anyone wanting to make a porky roach, there are many kits on crazycrow.com simple real looking fiber optic (easier to build) to the more traditional porcupine hair. these also come with detailed instructions. I’m starting mine next week.

  39. The wanderingbull.com store has everything you need to make a porcupine hair roach. Owner has been making them for 35 years and can help with questions on how to. Worth checking out this family owned co.

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