Salmon Amulet

Stone amulet from Hoonah depicting a salmon’s tail.

This item could be made into many different shapes and crest designs. This one is made from stone but could also be made from wood, shell, ivory, or bone. It could possibly be from an íxt’ but there is no evidence of this except for the museum description.

Cultural Narrative: 

An everyday personal item that has been embellished with Tlingit design elements.

Traditional Knowledge: 

This stone amulet was made for scratching one’s skin without using your fingernails. By using your fingernails to scratch with you could cause bad events to happen for yourself or your family.

Green stone; Shaman's Charm representing salmon's tail.

Tlingit [Hoonah (Huna)].  Collected by Lieutenant George T. Emmons (1852-1945, US Navy 1881-1899) at an unknown date; purchased by George Heye from George T. Emmons in 1915.


Notes: ORIGINAL OBJECT DESCRIPTION: Green stone; Shaman's Charm representing salmon's tail.

ACQUISITION INFO: Collected by G. T. Emmons

NOTE: OTHER TYPED: As described in Emmons’ object list (see 1915.0014 Source Catalog.pdf): "Small green stone scratcher ornamentally shaped and carved to represent a salmon's tail, from Gaudokari the Hoonah tribe of Tlingit of South Eastern, Alaska, living on the Chilkat river. Such charms of stone, wood, shell, ivory and bone were worn by all Tlingits in primitive times and were used to scratch with. The finger nail was never used. And this custom was most carefully observed by the wife of one who was on a war party for if she should use the finger the enemy's arrow or knife would wound the husband in that spot."

National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution