Whether sifting through sand, or scrambling over a rocky shore, it's about finding treasures in every day. 

Alaska Native Cedar Bark Hats

Alaska Native Elders and clan leaders dancing at Shakes Island in Wrangell.

When the canoes landed at Shakes Island for the Rededication Ceremony (see more on that here) I was intrigued by the cedar bark hats that people were wearing. I had never seen so many of these amazing, precious hats in one place. You can't just walk down to the corner store and buy one. Each hat represents many, many hours of skilled work, and each hat starts as bark on a tree.

Cedar bark hat embellished with ermine pelt and abalone button.

Some of the hats are woven so tightly that they are waterproof!  The Alaskan Native people have practiced this work for utility and art for centuries.

An abbreviated description of how these hats are made goes like this. Long strips of cedar bark are harvested in the spring or early summer when the sap is running.  The brittle outer bark is peeled off of the strip and then the more flexible inner bark is split. Those pieces are then split into very thin strips, which are soaked in water and then woven.

Sometimes Alaska Native weavers use spruce root or cedar root to make hats, but more often those materials are used for baskets and other items. 

What caught my eye were the woven designs and embellishments as well as the variations of the basic shape that the weavers created. 

Alaska Native woven hat Wrangell

The hat above left (with red and black designs) is likely made of spruce root. I couldn't quite catch up to him to ask about it.  

I think each of the hats are beautiful, and hope that you enjoyed a closer look!

The beaded hatband can also be worn as a headband.