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Dagger

shak’áts’ “double-ended dagger”
Language: Lingít

After you become a warrior, the knife is always on you. It’s the first thing that you put on in the morning, the last thing that you take off at night. It’s called jaxán át, “something close at hand”; it is there to protect your people at all times.

—George Ramos, 2005

Tlingit warriors possessed iron-bladed knives long before Western contact, crafted from metal found on Asian ships that drifted across the Pacific. Sophisticated indigenous iron-working techniques produced honed and tempered blades, often with ground-on flutes. The double-ended war dagger was worn around the neck in a leather sheath and used in hand-to-hand combat. George Ramos said that a warrior tied his knife to his wrist before going into battle so that it would not be lost.

Culture: Tlingit
Region: Southeast Alaska
Object Category: War
Dimensions: Length: 60.7cm
Accession Date: 1870
Source: A. H. Hoff (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E009288