Campus & Community

Installation of rare bear claw necklace at Peabody

2 min read

A special reception commemorating the installation of the recently rediscovered grizzly bear claw necklace at the Peabody Museum will be held May 13 – the day the artifact goes on public display – from 5 to 7 p.m. at the museum. Provost Steven E. Hyman and William Fash, Howells Director of the Peabody Museum, will host the event. The necklace, which was misplaced since it was first cataloged by the museum in 1899, was rediscovered during a recent inventory and cataloguing project. One of only seven surviving American Indian objects that can be positively attributed to Lewis and Clark, the necklace will be placed in the museum’s exhibit “From Nation to Nation: Examining Lewis and Clark’s Indian Collection,” which highlights the role that Native Americans played in the famous expedition. In remarkably good condition, the necklace measures 25 inches and consists of 38 grizzly bear claws, each approximately 3 inches long. The claws are attached with rawhide thongs to a fur foundation, and were originally covered with a red ochre pigment, still visible on the underside of the claws. While there is no information that allows museum researchers to identify which tribe might have given the necklace to them, Lewis and Clark describe many times in their journals seeing Indians wearing bear claw necklaces all along their route up the Missouri River, and they frequently exchanged gifts with Indian leaders as part of their diplomatic mission.The bear claw necklace, along with the entire “From Nation to Nation” exhibit, will be up through December 2005. For more information on the Lewis and Clark collection at the Peabody, visit