A grizzly claw necklace was considered the greatest sign of prowess demonstrating courage. The greatest threat to the Lewis and Clark Expedition proved not to be Indian attack, rather it was various attacks by grizzlies. One day west of the Rockies, 200 grizzlies were counted. The Corp of Discovery learned that when a grizzly attacked, it could be shot multiple times, and still would continue its assault. One of the Corp members said he would rather face ten Indians than one grizzly. Pictured below is a very old grizzly claw necklace from one bear, five claws from each front paw. As typical, claws are colored red as a symbol of blood. There are several ways to connect the claws; this one uses a buckskin accordion fold with green porcupine quill edging at the top and fringed bottom. It has a hole which connects to a thong before the fringed end, so it would be worn as a choker.
This piece comes from the Brundl Collection of Germany and was likely collected before 1850.
Larry Belitz, Plains Indian Material Culture Consultant