Beaded Dentalium Shell Headdress

Created by Christalina Jager from Port Graham, this beaded headdress is made from a variety of colored beads and dentalium shells.

Headdresses were symbols of wealth and status and typically made of beads and dentalium shells. The more successful hunter was able to trade their pelts for beads, which in turn allowed the women to make longer beaded headdresses. 

Headdresses are typically worn by women at dances, feasts and special occassions. Sugpiaq headdresses have dangling pendants on the sides and long tails in the back. Small beads are concentrated near the head while heavier beads can be found further along the tail. 

Crowell, Aron L. Amy F. Steffian and Gordon L. Pullar. Looking Both Ways: Heritage and Identity of the Alutiiq People. Fairbanks: Univ. of Alaska Press, 2001. Pg 206

Cultural Narrative: 

“Traditionally, the longer the beaded headdress would indicate the wealthier or higher status you were in the community. The chief’s daughters would have headdresses that sometimes reached their ankles! You can see a similar long headdress located in the Chugach Alaska Corporation office, it is very beautiful!” –Mary Babic, Cordova