‘Yellowstone’ Season 5: The Meaning Behind Monica Cutting Her Hair Off in Episode 3 Explained

Yellowstone Season 5 got off to a sad start for Monica Dutton (Kelsey Asbille). After the time jump between seasons, Monica was just three weeks away from her second baby’s due date when she started having painful cramps. On her way to the hospital, she and her son Tate (Brecken Merrill) were involved in a terrible car accident that ended in tragedy.

Yellowstone season 5 star Kelsey Asbille poses as a very pregnant Monica Dutton
Kelsey Asbille as Monica Dutton | Paramount Network

Kayce and Monica Dutton lost their baby in the ‘Yellowstone’ Season 5 premiere

While Kayce (Luke Grimes) was away at work as Montana’s Livestock Commissioner, his wife Monica and son Tate attempted to make it to the hospital in Billings after she started cramping. 

With teenager Tate in the passenger’s seat — and Kayce promising to send an ambulance to meet her — Monica raced down a dark two-lane highway as her pain got worse. There was also a pickup truck coming toward her from the opposite direction, and a huge wild buffalo standing in the road between them.

The first hour of the Yellowstone premiere ended with a nasty car accident that resulted in the death of Monica and Kayce’s baby — a son they named John.

In episode 3 “Tall Drink of Water,” Monica was distraught as she continued to grieve the loss of her son. As she waited to bury him at the Dutton Ranch, Monica had an outburst that led to her cutting off her hair.

The meaning behind Monica Dutton cutting off her hair in ‘Yellowstone’ Season 5

Yellowstone Season 5, Episode 4 “Horses in Heaven” will feature baby John’s funeral. The speculation is that Monica cut off her hair because of Native American tradition. It’s possible that she will bury the hair she cut off with her son. 

It’s not clear what tribe Monica is part of. But many Native Americans hold their hair to a higher purpose and believe the hair is a physical manifestation of the spirit. 

“It’s often tradition in some tribes to cut your hair and bury it with the deceased when someone close to you dies,” Vox explains.

The significance of long hair in Native American culture

According to The Long Hairs blog, Native American tribes and people have a wide range of beliefs — but many believe in the power of uncut hair. Both men and women are encouraged to grow their hair long, and some tribes have special ceremonies for the first haircut.

The long hair beliefs are tied to nature, symbolizing a connection to mother earth. And in Native American culture — with growing hair being a physical manifestation of a growing spirit — some believe the hair allows for a connection to all things in nature, as well as extrasensory perception.

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Cutting the hair when someone close to you dies is considered a symbol of deep sadness and a physical reminder of the loss. The cut hair is treated with respect, and is often placed in a river, buried, or burned. The cut hair represents the time they had with their loved one who died, which is now over. New hair growth represents life after the loss.

Yellowstone airs Sunday nights on the Paramount Network.