Going Native at "Indian Head"

Every summer growing up, our parents used to take us up to a popular spot in Franconia Notch NH called "Indian Head" just a few miles down the road from what (sadly) used to be "the old man of the mountain" natural monument. For anyone who doesn't know from your New Hampshire state quarters, "the old man of the mountain" or "profile rock" was a cliff side off of Cannon Mountain in the White Mountains that from a certain angle looked like a face. Sadly this New Hampshire icon fell down a few years back, but there's another profile rock worth checking out if you're ever in that "neck of the woods" (literally) called "Indian Head"-- a mountain cliff that looks like an "Indian's head." We used to stay at the Indian Head Resort up there, and while there's enough about that to warrant its own post (in time), I'm going to focus this one on something no less amazing to me, albeit far, far less grand. I'm talking about cheap paper hats, plastic bows, and rubber drum sets.

Flamingo feathers??
The Indian Head Resort had its own gift shop (just like everything does) where they sold various Native American-related gifts, toys, shotglasses and the like, and believe it or not, perusing this little overstocked alcove was the height of any four day stay in the White Mountains for me. The reason? Namely, cheap paper Native American headdresses, plastic bows, and rubber drums sets. These were a MUST have. There was no question about it. The headdresses were just a red paper front with an "eh, close enough..." Native American pastiche design on it tied around the back with an elastic string which always broke out of its staple 20 minutes after wearing it, and poised atop would be five or six colored feathers. I could put this thing on and feel like I was the "Brave Chief" for the day (as it said on the hat)... or at least for 20 minutes.

My parents usually passed on the drum kits and archery sets because they were expensive (and eBay doesn't lie), and you have to consider that getting one of anything always meant getting two of anything (because close-in-age brothers always want what the other one has!). But I do remember getting the bow and arrow and the drum kit at least once, and I even have photographic evidence of this fact. The archery set came with a couple of "suction cup" arrows that would get lost 10 minutes after they were torn from the package, a flimsy bow with a string that wouldn't send them any decent distance anyway, and a fake plastic knife that probably found its way under the car seat for the rest of the trip. The drum kit was one of those mock "hide drum" cans with some rubber stretched over both ends to make it look more "Indian" I guess. It wasn't loud enough to annoy my parents but was damn cool enough to keep us entertained in the backseat of the car as we jotted down the Kancamagus.

And I say that in all respect, because I don't for a second think any of these things communicate any significance about actual Native American history or culture, which I was genuinely interested in as a kid, but to the 8YO me, these little trinkets were just the coolest toys I could imagine having in a place called "Indian Head" up in the scenic splendor of the White Mountains. I may have once or twice walked all of "the Flume" with my feathery gear intact. If you don't know what that is, you're just going to have to check it out for yourself... or wait until I tell the tale.

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