There’s a root in there and you bite it, hold onto it with your teeth, so that [the collar] doesn’t slip too far down. And if it appears somebody is going to club you then you raise your shoulders up; the helmet hits [the collar] and your head doesn’t get banged. There’s room inside the helmet so you don’t get hurt.
—Clarence Jackson, translating George Ramos, 2005
This wooden collar fit beneath a warrior’s helmet to cover and protect his face and neck. Notches at the top allowed him to see out, and a small round hole in the center was provided for breathing. Inside the collar is a spruce root loop that he gripped in his teeth. To make this collar a craftsman first shaped a piece of hard spruce burl into a plank, then scored it with parallel grooves and bent it in a circle. Crest designs are carved on the front.
Region: Baranof Island, Southeast Alaska
Object Category: War
Dimensions: Width 31cm
Accession Date: 1884
Source: John J. McLean (collector, U.S. Signal Service)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E074343
Clarence Jackson: That [helmet E168157] fits on top of that one [armor collar].
Rosita Worl: Those pieces are together?
Aron Crowell: They were not collected at the same time but—
Clarence Jackson: That’s what they’re supposed to do.
Rosita Worl: Yes, because you have to have the right fit.
Clarence Jackson: Looks like they bent that one too. . . . It was a piece of board that was bent maybe after boiling it. See how the cuts are the on there.
Delores Churchill: What kind of wood was it?
Clarence Jackson: Probably spruce, spruce or cedar.
Clarence Jackson: Waasá duwasáakw Lingiít xeináx yaax’?
(What is this called in Tlingit?)
George Ramos: Yaat’áa áwé káx xéiwxwaawoos’ yaat’áa. Shadak’wát yoo ahéi akwshá? Shadak’wát.
(I had asked him about this one. Did we say it’s called ‘folds around the neck’ in Tlingit? It’s called ‘folds around the neck’ in Tlingit.)
Clarence Jackson: Shadak’wáts.
(It’s called ‘folds around the neck’ in Tlingit.)
George Ramos: [Sets helmet on armor collar.]
Yaat’áa ku.aas hél xwásaku.
Kaa shadáax’ yán kusteeych. Tléi yaa i.éen kaxanéek. Yisatéeni I shakagaxdut’éixee Yéi áyá wóoch toox.
(This one [helmet] though I don’t know [the word for]. It sets on your head. That’s what I was telling you. When you see that you’re going to be struck in the head, it goes like this together.)
Clarence Jackson: Wóoch toox yeidgátch’.
(Collapses on each other.)
George Ramos: Aaa, há. Aagaa áyá Yaat’aa wdut’éix’ee Yaat’aa áyá kindéi yoondusnéekch’yisateení. Yaanáx kakgeetees’ch’.
(Yes, and then when this one [helmet] is hit, this part here [neck armor] is pulled up when you see it coming. You can look through here [two notches along top edge of neck armor].
Naskee kaadéi I gáx dujaak Yaatát yei ee oowú. Tleix’aa anáx yéi ikawduléedik, Yá jiyéenáx áyá I gáxdutáak. Ách’ áyóos, daxnáx kaax’w hél’ dudéx’ yán kooháanch. Ch’á Waasá yán uháani akáx hás adélx. Tleix’aa ku.aa aýáas Yaat’áa, sheidí kawawáal’í. Aagáa tsú igaxdujáak yaat’áa kawawáal’i yaa shayéit.Tleix’áa ku.aa aýáas I x’ás’ hél ultséeni. . . . Ách áya iwakshayéex’ yeixwasínee yaadú.a. Á áyá yéi dustáx’kch. Aa.há, hél yisatáax’i ku.aas Yaa diyeedé áyá jikakgw’axéex. . . . Yáa i x’ás’ wdaxwéidlee Ku.aa aýáas x’éyináagee yaa dayéedei kakgwaxéex.
Aagaa áyá yáanáx aýáas gaxdutáak.
(You can be killed three different ways when you are wearing this. If you miss the first blow, you can be struck under your arm. That is why two young men don’t just stand beside him. Whichever way he turns, they stand guard over him. The other part now, this helmet here, if it’s broken. You can be killed if this helmet is broken. The other one now is if your jaw isn’t strong. . . . If your jaw gets tired and you let this go from your mouth, it will fall down your neck and not protect you. Then through here he could be speared.)
Clarence Jackson: . . . There’s a root in there or a line and you bite it – hold onto it with your teeth – so that it doesn’t slip too far down. And if it appears somebody is going to club you, then you raise your shoulders up and then the mask hits and your head doesn’t get banged.
You know there’s room inside the headpiece so you don’t get hurt.
Suzi Jones: How do you see?
Clarence Jackson: There’s two holes there. See these two [two notches along top edge of neck armor]. This [hole in front center] is where you breathe out of.
George Ramos: Yaa hél k’idéin kéeteeyéech áyáas. Daxnáx natéech i t’ák kaawú.
(As you can see your visibility is blocked. That is why there are two persons beside you.)
[From discussion with Delores Churchill (Haida), Peter Jack, Sr. (Tlingit), Clarence Jackson, Sr. (Tlingit), Anna Katzeek (Tlingit), George Ramos (Tlingit), and Donald Gregory (Tlingit) and Rosita Worl (Tlingit) of the Sealaska Heritage Institute at the National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of the American Indian, 4/18/2005-4/22/2005. Also participating: Aron Crowell and Bill Fitzhugh (NMNH) and Suzi Jones (AMHA).]