Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge



xáa s’aaxwú “warrior’s helmet”
Language: Lingít

No one comes into your land until they’ve got an agreement to come there or have been invited. If you go into anybody else’s land it’s a battle. That’s one of the strongest laws of the Tlingit.

—George Ramos, 2005

Tlingit warriors wore battle helmets depicting crest animals or ancestors, along with wooden visors, thick leather tunics, and body armor made of wooden rods or slats. They armed themselves with bows and arrows, spears, clubs, and daggers. This helmet depicts a wrinkled human face once embellished with bear fur whiskers and human hair. Pierced hands stretch across the front, joined to a stylized body in the back. Helmets were carved from hard, dense spruce burls to withstand blows from clubs and even shots fired from Russian muskets.

Culture: Tlingit
Region: Alaska / British Columbia
Village: Taku
Object Category: War
Dimensions: Length 27cm
Accession Date: 1893
Source: Herbert Ogden (collector), Bureau of American Ethnology (donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E168157