Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

 
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Body armor

xáa daaka.ádi “warrior’s body armor”
Language: Lingít

Aagáa áyú héenx hás wdudlikéil’ yaa jishagóon yéi hás áyá oowu.aa hás. (They were forced into the water, the ones wearing body armor). Yoo héen á‎yú hás du yát kaawadaa ach áyú dléixx wusitée. (The current was rushing into them and these warriors became vulnerable.) Akáa dáx shakeel.á - jinák ixdéi guxsagóok (Untie the armor - it will float down river.)

—George Ramos, 2005

Tlingit fighters dressed in body armor made of wooden slats or rods, under which they wore thick vests of moose, elk, or sea lion hide. The hardwood slats of this armor are bound together with nettle fiber. In 1904 the clan leader Katishan said that war began in ancient times when Raven directed the people to “go there and kill them all, and you will have all the things in that town.” Raids against rival clans and villages were launched to capture treasure and slaves, settle unpaid debts, and retaliate for trespass. In the story told by George Ramos, Tlingit men discard their armor after being forced into a river during a battle with the Eyak.

Culture: Tlingit
Region: Southeast Alaska
Village: Sitka
Object Category: War
Dimensions: Length 55cm
Accession Date: 1908 (collected ca. 1868)
Source: Edward G. Fast (collector)
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 018735.000