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Unangax̂ Bentwood Hat-Making videos

Unangax̂ men of the Aleutian Islands wore hunting hats and visors that were shaped from carved, boiled and bent planks of driftwood, intricately ornamented with paint, beads, walrus ivory and sea lion whiskers. The hats were practical headgear for kayak hunters and at the same time works of art expressing the spiritual connection between human beings and animals of the land, sea and air. In 2012, the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska hosted a bentwood hat making residency at the Anchorage Museum where Unangax̂ hat makers Patricia Lekanoff-Gregory and Michael Livingston worked with advanced apprentices Delores Gregory and Tim Shangin. They examined bentwood hats and visors from museum collections, and they carved, bent, and decorated their own, sharing their expertise with visiting students and museum guests.

The video set presented here provides step-by-step instructions on how to make a bentwood hat and information on the use and significance of these hats in the past and today, along with artist interviews that provide first-hand information about the Aleutian Islands region and this important art form. Links to a selection of Unangax̂ bentwood hats and visors from the Smithsonian collections are included below.

Tags: Aleutian Islands, Alaska, Alaska Native art, Indigenous, Unangax̂, Unangax, Unangan, Sugpiaq, Aleut, bentwood hat, bentwood visor, chief's hat, Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska

Studying a Museum Object

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Aleutian Islands Bentwood Hats (1 of 9): Introduction

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Aleutian Islands Bentwood Hats (3 of 9): Mike Livingston

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Aleutian Islands Bentwood Hats (4 of 9): Delores Gregory

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Aleutian Islands Bentwood Hats (5 of 9): Timothy Shangin

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Aleutian Islands Bentwood Hats (6 of 9): How-to Steps 1 - 4

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Aleutian Islands Bentwood Hats (7 of 9): How-to Steps 5 - 8

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Aleutian Islands Bentwood Hats (8 of 9): How-to Steps 9 - 12

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Aleutian Islands Bentwood Hats (9 of 9): How-to Steps 13 - 14

Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Alaska

Hunting hat

National Museum of the American Indian

Hunting Hat

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.

Hunting Hat

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.

Hunting visor

National Museum of the American Indian