Bear Amulet

Ivory amulet owned by a Hoonah Íxt’ depicting a Brown Bear and Land Otter.

The Brown Bear is depicted with the Land Otter coming out of its mouth while standing on the head of the frog. There are different messages that can be conveyed when depicting an animal coming out of the mouth of another animal or coming out of the mouth of a human. Only the Íxt’ would know the significance of how these creatures are portrayed. This object was also stolen from the same Hoonah Íxt’ grave by G.T. Emmons. No local person would have condoned the taking of these objects then or now. Íxt’ grave sites are sacred ground.

Cultural Narrative: 

It was common for an Íxt’ to wear amulets around their neck, waist or both. They could be worn individually or in groups. These amulets could be commissioned from an artist or carved by the Íxt’ himself. When a piece was commissioned from an artist, they did not have to worry about the spiritual power of an Íxt’ object because the Íxt’ had not brought power to the object yet.

Xoots (Brown Bear)

Kooshda (Land Otter)

Traditional Knowledge: 

Land Otter were the most powerful supernatural creatures and only the Íxt could control them. The bear is depicted sitting on the frog’s head. Both bear and frog could also be controlled by the Íxt’ and they both had supernatural abilities. According to the record these creatures came to the Íxt’ in a dream. Dreams were one of the ways an Íxt’ would communicate with the spirit world.

Shaman's charm of ivory, inlaid with haliotis shell, carved to represent a bear with a land otter coming out of his mouth, and a frog's head below.