Two Native Americans, recruited during the Vietnam War for their exceptional tracking skills, are involved in an extraordinary training exercise. One has the traditional long locks of First Nation people, the other has a standard G.I.’s buzz cut. “Enemies” creep up on the two men who are separately bivouacked for the night. The long-haired recruit disappears before the men sent to “kill” him arrive. The Native American with the buzz cut is captured stone cold.
So what was this bizarre experiment all about? Researchers mounted the experiment described to test the validity of a seemingly bizarre claim. It had all started after the Native Americans with their special tracking skills were recruited. Shortly after joining the army, they lost that phenomenal sixth sense that apparently underpinned their particular skills. What was going wrong?
Some of the First Nation soldiers believed they knew what the problem was. They claimed that the reason their powers had evaporated was down to their shorn locks. The Native Americans believed that their hair was an essential part of their nervous system, helping them to be ultra-aware of their surroundings and any movements around them. Cut off the hair, these men said, and you lost those uncanny “superpowers”.
And those army experiments seemed to prove the point that the Native American soldiers had made. In the experimental training exercises which pitted a man with flowing locks intact against a crew-cut G.I., the results appeared to be conclusive. The long-haired G.I. would either escape his would-be attacker or apprehend him and “kill him”. The short-haired Native American would be seized.
And the tests had shown that even when the First Nation soldier was asleep, as long as he had his hair, he could respond to the threat of an incoming “enemy” effectively. So the U.S. Army made the only sensible decision it could. Native American recruits, unlike other Americans, were given a special dispensation to keep their hair long.