Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Then that shaman lived among the people. He was kind and nice to the people. He only helped those people. He used that magic.

—Ignatius Kosbruk, from “Alutiiq Ethnicity,” 1992

This shaman’s rattle represents a toothed bird; its eyes are copper. Inside is a sinew-wrapped charm bundle that includes a quartz crystal, a mica flake, a sliver of wood, and clippings of hair. The rattle may have been used to summon helping spirits, which were birds, animals, and human souls. Shamans performed cures and predicted the future.

Culture: Sugpiaq (Alutiiq)
Region: Alaska Peninsula
Village: Ugashik
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length 25cm
Accession Date: 1887
Source: William J. Fisher (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E127805