Besides ear piercings, the Tlingit have long practiced lip piercing as well. Lip piercing, however, was practiced solely by females in Tlingit culture. Lip plates were installed when girls reached the age of sexual maturity, and was a signal of her readiness to marry. Labrets, on the other hand, were reserved, as with ear piercings, as a sybol of status and wealth. Only the elite Tlingit females in society were allowed to wear them.
The Tlingit were known by neighboring tribes as "wooden lips" or "lip pugs," leading to the Russian name for the tribe of "Kolosh," which means "labret." FYI, the word "Tlingit" itself translates to "human being."