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  • Grizzly Bear Claw Necklace

    According to Norman Feder,

    “...grizzly claw necklaces were apparently never vary numerous within any one tribe because of the difficulty in obtaining the claws.”
    (Feder & Chandler, 1961, p. 7)

    Even at a time when the great plains family of the grizzly bear species was abundant, it was difficult to hunt the animal. An early writer in the 1838 to 1840 period states,

    “This famous grizzly bear is so ferocious that when the Osage wish to attack it, they raise a war party often fifty men strong”...“The victorious hunter is entitled to wear a necklace made with it’s claws.”
    (Tixier, 1940, p. 248)

    A common style of making the grizzly bear claw necklace among the Ponca, Osage, Iowa, Kaw, Omaha, Pawnee, Otoe and Missouri tribes has been described by Norman Feder as,

    “...claws with double perforation, mounted on a core and covered with otter fur”...“a core that forms a continuous circle, and a tail composed of a separate otter skin pendant down the back.”
    (Feder & Chandler, 1961, p. 11)

    In addition, Thomas Mails makes reference to grizzly claw necklaces in “The Mystic Warriors of the Plains,” when he writes,

    “The combined otter skin and bear claw necklaces”... “were made with broad bands of otter skin, and the long tail of the swift and cunning otter was arranged to hang down the center of the warrior’s back.”
    (Mails, 1972, p. 372)

    In most claw necklaces still in museum collections, there are an average of 40 claws in a necklace of this type, and usually only the longer front claws were used as the grizzly bear hind claws are much shorter. Large glass trade beads are often used as spacers between the claws, strung halfway down the claw at the secondary perforation alluded to above.

    In latter years, with the depletion of the Great Plains Grizzly Bear (now extinct), many tribes made claw necklaces from Rocky Mountain Grizzly Bear, or from carved elk antler. In fact, as an example of how they became so popular, one of these grizzly claw necklaces made from carved elkhorn and collected at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas as early as 1838, is on display at the American Museum of Natural History.

    Historically among the Ponca, as an example, it was usually notable warriors who gained the honor and right to wear a Grizzly Bear Claw Necklace. Either by killing two or more Grizzly Bears and making a necklace of the claws, or by killing an enemy warrior who wore a Grizzly Bear Claw Necklace, thus giving you the right to wear his. (Abe Conklin, 1986)

    While seen occasionally among straight dancers today, the Grizzly Bear Claw Necklace may not have the same meaning associated with it's use back in the day.

    Some examples:

    Mesquakie
    http://pro.corbis.com/images/WF00324...1D6476F1A48%7D



    Necklace of the Iowa Chief called The White Cloud, displayed by the Iowa tribe of Kansas and Nebraska in their museum.


    The White Cloud painted by George Catlin in 1845


    Mesquakie - 1860 (Courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian)


    Carved Elk Antler necklace




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    Duncan, Jim.
    1997. Hethushka Zani: An Ethnohistory of the War Dance Complex. MA thesis. Department of Anthropology, Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, OK.

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    2003. A Dancing People: Powwow Culture on the Southern Plains. University of Kansas Press, Lawrence, KS.

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    1957-a. Costume of the Oklahoma Straight Dancer. The American Indian Hobbyist Newsletter, Vol. 4, No. 1.
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    1961. Grizzly Claw Necklaces. American Indian Tradition Newsletter, Vol. 8, No. 1.

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    1959. Ponca Dances, Ceremonies and Music. Ethnomusicology, Vol. 7.

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    1914-a. Osage Songs and Rituals. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections and Explorations, Vol. 65, No. 6, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
    1914-b. Ceremonies and Rituals of the Osage. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, Volume 63, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
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    1932. Wa’-Kon-Tah, The Osage and the White Man’s Road. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK.
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    1914. Pawnee Indian Societies. Anthropological Papers, American Museum of Natural History, Vol. 11, No. 7, New York, NY.

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    "Be good, be kind, help each other."
    "Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

    --Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)

  • #2
    More examples:

    Brave Chief - Pawnee - 1858


    Pipe Chief - Pawnee - 1858


    Man Chief - Pawnee - 1858


    The Chief Whom They Look Upon - Pawnee - no date


    L-R: Sun Chief, A Fine Horse, Lone Chief, Struck By A Tomahawk, One Aimed At - Pawnee - 1868


    Brave Chief - Pawnee - no date


    Boss Sun (aka Sun Chief) - Pawnee - 1884


    George Kit-kah-hak with son, William Pollock - Pawnee - no date


    Roaming Chief - Pawnee - 1902


    *******

    Medicine Horse - Otoe - 1869


    Little Pipe - Otoe - 1869


    Crawfish Maker - Otoe - 1880


    Far Away - Otoe - 1884


    Standing Eating - Otoe - 1884


    Makes A Noise - Otoe - 1884


    Big Black Bear - Otoe - 1884


    Robert Headman - Otoe - 1898


    William Faw Faw - Otoe - no date


    Brother of John Pipestem with wife - Otoe - 1906


    Red Bear - Otoe - 1908


    *******

    Medicine Horse – Iowa – no date


    Victor Dupee – Iowa – 1900


    Blue Hair – Iowa – 1900


    *******

    Standing Hawk, Little Chief, Rattling Thunder - Omaha - 1866


    The Chief - Omaha - 1869


    The Chief - Omaha - no date


    Pa-de-gi-he - Omaha - no date


    Shon-ga-skah - Omaha - no date


    Standing Bear - Omaha - no date


    *******

    Keokuk - Sauk & Fox - 1847


    Rising Fish - Sauk & Fox - 1858


    The Grey Fox - Sauk & Fox - 1858


    Sauk & Fox men – 1866


    Wah-Com-Mo - Sauk & Fox - 1868


    Fish Floating To The Shore - Sauk & Fox - 1868


    Many Scalps - Sauk & Fox - 1868


    Moses Keokuk - Sauk & Fox - 1868


    Cannot Do It - Sauk & Fox - 1890


    Cannot Do It - Sauk & Fox - 1890


    Shining River - Sauk & Fox - 1890


    Shining River - Sauk & Fox - 1890


    Winding Stream - Sauk & Fox - 1890


    Po-Ga-Ha-Ma-We - Sauk & Fox - 1896


    Po-ga-ha-ma-we - Sauk & Fox - 1896


    Fish Rub Against Something - Sauk & Fox - 1896


    Fish Rub Against Something - Sauk & Fox - 1896


    Push-E-To-Neke-Qua and Joe Tyson - Sauk & Fox - 1899


    *******

    Standing Bear with wife and child - Ponca - 1877


    Standing L-R: John Baptiste Barnaby, (Interpreter) - Otoe/Pawnee; Charles LeClaire, (Interpreter) - Ponca/French Canadian
    Sitting L-R: Big Elk, Standing Buffalo Bull, White Eagle, Standing Bear - Ponca - 1877


    Standing L-R: Big Snake, John Baptiste Barnaby (Otoe/Pawnee), White Eagle, Charles LeClaire (Ponca/French Canadian), The Chief
    Sitting L-R: Black Crow, Big Elk, Standing Bear, Standing Buffalo Bull, White Swan, aka Frank LaFlesche, Sr.(Ponca/French Canadian), Smoke Maker
    Reclining: Hairy Grizzly Bear - Ponca - 1877


    White Eagle, Standing Bear - Ponca - no date


    Little Eagle – Ponca – circa 1880


    Standing Bear - Ponca - 1881


    *******

    Pa-thin-non-pa-zhi – Osage – 1868


    Osage man – 1868


    Osage men – 1868


    Black Dog – Osage – 1876


    Black Dog, Not Afraid of Pawnees - Osage – 1877


    Reaches The Sky – Osage – 1877


    Osage men - no date

    "Be good, be kind, help each other."
    "Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

    --Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)

    Comment


    • #3
      MAN those look keen!!

      Noticed lots of them are those "turban wearing fools".



      .
      Traditions.....keep them and keep them sacred!

      I am NOT Indian. I have never been to India, nor has any of my family before me! I have met these people from India, of whom you speak, and I am nothing like them. Why do you call me an Indian?

      .

      Comment


      • #4
        Now I understand the carved antler claws were due to the depleted bear population, and that the right to make/wear a bearclaw necklace came from killing 2 or more bears. Who has the right to make/wear a necklace made from the carved antler? Also how popular were/are the carved necklaces?

        Comment


        • #5
          is this a beaded turban in the photo of "Little Pipe - Otoe - 1869"
          Last edited by rezcar3; 10-09-2009, 11:47 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            YES...that is fully beaded "turban" for lack of better words.

            I have an extended family member that has one that is exactly like Little Pipes but he won't wear it any more because people call him "princess". It is sad that our own people don't know their own traditional clothing styles.

            I was hoping Historian would have answered the question about who could wear the carved antler necklaces.
            I've seen just a few pictures of carved antler necklaces in my many years of looking at old photos.


            .
            Last edited by Mato Mahe; 10-09-2009, 02:20 PM.
            Traditions.....keep them and keep them sacred!

            I am NOT Indian. I have never been to India, nor has any of my family before me! I have met these people from India, of whom you speak, and I am nothing like them. Why do you call me an Indian?

            .

            Comment


            • #7
              thanks for the info. it looks good. i think i saw a northern traditional dancer with something similar at gathering of nations a couple of years ago. ill look for the photo.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Tx_grass_dancer View Post
                Now I understand the carved antler claws were due to the depleted bear population, and that the right to make/wear a bearclaw necklace came from killing 2 or more bears. Who has the right to make/wear a necklace made from the carved antler? Also how popular were/are the carved necklaces?

                *L

                ... Phishing for answers, cause you're thinking of getting one?
                Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by WhoMe View Post
                  *L ... Phishing for answers, cause you're thinking of getting one?
                  Or Maybe I Just Like Learning New Things, Or Having A Discussion On A Topic Thats Not Who Should Have Won Or Bashing Another Hob.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As far as I know, today, the right to wear a set of grizzly claws, or even a set of imatation claws made from elk antler, is determined by families, clans or societies within each tribe who still hold that tradition. For the most part, men who wear a set of claws are usually veterans, or someone who has been given the right to wear them by a veteran.

                    "Be good, be kind, help each other."
                    "Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

                    --Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)

                    Comment


                    • #11

                      "Be good, be kind, help each other."
                      "Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

                      --Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have only seen pictures of men wearing bear claws. Were women ever allowed or given the right to wear bear claws?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SiriusSpiritWmn View Post
                          I have only seen pictures of men wearing bear claws. Were women ever allowed or given the right to wear bear claws?
                          I've never seen or heard of women wearing a set of Grizzly Bear claws.

                          "Be good, be kind, help each other."
                          "Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

                          --Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            thank you for your input Historian I was curious about that.

                            Comment


                            • #15

                              "Be good, be kind, help each other."
                              "Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

                              --Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)

                              Comment

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