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naqugun “belt”
Language: Central Yup'ik

Women are supposed to have belts. That’s what we were told. If a woman has children, it’s mainly to keep them alive, so you won’t lose their spirits. Even before that, [you wear one] when you become a woman.

—Virginia Minock, 2002

This woman’s belt is decorated with glass beads, brass bells, and rows of front teeth from hundreds of caribou. A caribou tooth belt reflected the hunting skills of a woman’s husband and she wore it during dances, ceremonies, and rituals. The belts were believed to hold powers of curing and spiritual protection, and were passed down as family heirlooms.

Culture: Yup’ik
Region: Bristol Bay, Alaska
Object Category: Clothing
Dimensions: Length 115.5 cm
Accession Date: 1916
Source: Museum Purchase
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 050635.000