Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge


Hunting hat

ugtarcuun “bentwood hat, conical wooden hat”
Language: Central Yup'ik

Makucit pissurcuutekait makut imarpigmi qayanun. Una-ni wani cikut waten ayuqngata ayuqelingnaqluki. (These are all used for hunting in the ocean on the kayak. Since the ice looks the way it does, they tried to make them look like ice.)

—John Phillip, Sr., 2002

Men wore conical bentwood hats for hunting seals amid floating sea ice. According to John Phillip Sr., the pointed shape was to make the hats “look like ice,” disguising the hunter. They were decorated with feathers, paint, or ivory carvings, which here include a seal and several long, toothy fish. The fish are marked with nucleated circles, a symbol of enhanced spiritual vision and of the movement of people and animals between levels of the cosmos. Hats provided protection against weather and waves and collected sound from the watery environment, improving the hunter’s ability to hear.

Culture: Yup’ik
Region: Alaska
Village: Nushagak
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length 46cm
Accession Date: 1910
Source: U.S. Department of Interior (donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E260555