Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge


Crest hat

yéil s’áaxwu “raven hat”
Language: Lingít

There are three possibilities with this hat. First, it might have been a gift to the Haida people who put their designs on there, including the Raven…The second is that a Raven didn’t pay a debt, so they put him on top…And the third is that a grandchild can use a grandfather’s regalia, but I only saw that once in my life.

—Clarence Jackson, 2005

This woven spruce-root crest hat is topped with the head of Raven, yet the design painted on the crown is the Killer Whale, a crest belonging to the Eagle moiety. The combination of symbols from opposing moieties on a single hat is rare. It might represent trade with the Haida, where this combination is allowed, or mockery of an unpaid Raven debt to social opposites. Even more rarely a child may be given permission to use a crest of his grandfather’s clan, always of the opposite moiety, creating a mix of designs.

Culture: Tlingit
Region: Southeast Alaska
Object Category: Clothing
Dimensions: Length 43cm
Accession Date: 1903
Source: George T. Emmons (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E221177