Aleut costume
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Aleut Hunter.
Aleut men honored the sea mammal spirits by wearing highly decorated hunting costumes. This hunter is dressed in a gut-skin kamleika ornamented with yarn, applique designs, and hair embroidery. Sea lion whiskers on the hat indicate the hunting ability of its owner. Large glass beads, most of Chinese origin, attest to his wealth. In his hands are a sea otter dart and throwing board.

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map of Aleut settlement areas
The Aleut, or Unangan, as they call themselves, inhabit the Aleutian archipelago, a 1,300-mile-long volcanic island arc extending from the Alaska Peninsula west nearly to Kamchatka.

Aleut settlements were, as a rule, located on bays where there was a good gravel beach for landing skin-covered watercraft. Village locations on necks between two bays were preferred, as such locations provided at least one protected landing for any given wind direction and served as an escape route in the event of enemy attack. A good supply of fresh water nearby was a necessity, as a good salmon stream was indispensable; other considerations were availability of driftwood and access to stone materials suitable for tool- and weapon-making and mineral paints, sea mammal hauling grounds, and an elevated lookout post from which one could watch for enemies and whales.

Aleut society was ranked, with hereditary classes of high nobles, commoners, and slaves. The leaders were recruited from the high nobles or the chiefly elite. This ranking was reflected in allocation of living space within the longhouse and in burials. The "east" and the "above" were the sacred dimensions associated with the creator - Agugux. At dawn Aleut men emerged on the rooftops of their houses and faced the east to greet the day and "swallow light."

At sea, Aleut men wore wooden hunting hats. The shape of the headgear indicated a man's rank; a short visor was worn by the young and inexperienced hunters, an elongated visor by the rank-and-file, and open-crown long-visored hats by important mature men.

- Lydia T. Black and R. G. Liapunova
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