Grizzly Bear Claw Necklace
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Plains Indian (Mandan) Grizzly Bear Claw Necklace

Plains Indian (Mandan) Grizzly Bear Claw Necklace

Mandan

The 40-claw necklace was probably the most highly prized item to own. Only the front claws were used, therefore a necklace indicated a person had confronted and killed at least 4 grizzlies. Sometimes the claws were hand-carved from elk or deer horn. Because of the vast effort to cut, steam and shape the claws, it was considered as valuable as the grizzly claws. The wrapping around the claws is otter.

Lewis and Clark were told about the grizzly and its power by the native people, but they did not take the warning seriously. Later the Corps members encountered the "white bear" numerous times and learned that it could be shot many times and yet continue its charge. A muzzleloader took a great deal of time to reload after firing so on many occasions members of the expedition narrowly escaped death from attacking grizzlies. Lewis wrote that he would rather face two Indians than one grizzly.

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Plains Indian (Mandan) Grizzly Bear Claw Necklace

 

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