Credit: National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center 2
This Tlingit war helmet found in Taku, Alaska in 1893 is one of the more than 600 objects on display in the new Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center. Tlingit warriors wore battle helmets depicting crest animals or ancestors. This helmet depicts a wrinkled human face once embellished with bear fur whiskers and shocks of human hair. Helmets were carved from hard, dense spruce burls, so that “sha wduxeeji tlel kuwal’x (when the head is clubbed, it doesn’t break),” according to elder Peter Jack.