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Headdress

niaquġun “headband”
Language: North Slope Iñupiaq

It would be worn during the solstice, when the two stars – the aagruuk – show up over the horizon…. And the other [occasion] would be the Kalukaq (a dance held during during Kivgiq, the Messenger Feast), where something like this would be used.

—Ronald Brower Sr., 2002

Headbands decorated with Dall sheep teeth or caribou teeth were historically “the badge of a whaleman,” worn by the umialiq (boat captain) and harpooner for spring preparatory rites and during the hunt itself. Tooth headbands are also associated with a traditional ceremony to mark the autumn equinox “when two stars appear” (aagruuk) – referred to as the Iñupiaq New Year – as well as the Messenger Feast. This headband is made of bleached skin, sheep teeth, red beads, and sinew thread.

Culture: Iñupiaq
Region: Northwest Alaska
Village: Point Barrow
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length: 25.0cm
Accession Date: 1901
Source: H. Richmond Marsh (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E209841