Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge


Hunting hat

awirnaq “spruce root hat”
Language: Koniag Sugpiaq (Kodiak Island dialect)

Their hats are woven very skillfully and stoutly from fir [spruce]-roots, with wide brims and a low crown slightly pointed at the top, and they are decorated with various designs.

—Gavriil Davydov, from “Two Voyages to Russian America, 1802-1807”

Sugpiaq men wore woven spruce-root hats decorated with glass trade beads and dentalium shells. Weaving on the brim was patterned to make radiating diagonals, zigzags, or diamonds, while the crown was smoothly woven for painting. The image on this hat represents an animal – possibly a hunter’s helping spirit – with its face forward and teeth displayed; its body wraps around the crown. The eyes look like goggles, a style also seen in Yup’ik and Deg Hit’an spirit art. Men wore spruce-root hats both at sea and during winter hunting ceremonies.

Culture: Sugpiaq (Alutiiq)
Region: Kodiak Island, Alaska
Village: Karluk
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length 40cm
Accession Date: 1872
Source: Vincent Colyer (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E011378