Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge


Baby belt

tł’ôot’aii “baby strap”
Language: Gwich'in

When a baby was born, friends of the family would do beadwork for the baby like baby boots, slippers, hats, and mittens. Beaded baby straps were made mostly by the grandmothers. It was like saying, “Welcome into our rich culture,” to give a baby beadwork.

—Dixie Alexander, from “Skins, Trees, Quills, and Beads,” 1984

A baby belt supports a young child as she rides on her mother’s or sister’s back. This Gwich’in style belt has square ends and short ties. The beading is an “old style” open floral pattern on black velveteen. The beads are strung on sinew and tied down with thread. Beaded red wool tassels hang from the belt, which is backed with smoked moose hide.

Culture: Athabascan
Region: Yukon River (upper), Alaska
Object Category: Clothing
Dimensions: Length 54cm
Accession Date: 1906
Source: Edward A. Preble (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E238534