Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge


Octopus bag

We always called it “finger bag” and it’s true, the real name is “devil fish or octopus finger bag.” And it was not only used by a man. In the olden days they put their valuables in there like a necklace or a bracelet; whatever is valuable to them, they have it in there.

—Anna Katzeek, 2005

Beaded octopus or “devilfish” bags, named for their eight dangling arms, are traditional and contemporary dance regalia, worn by both men and women. This bag is made of red wool and calico cloth, with Inland Tlingit or Tahltan Athabascan-style beading. Octopus bags may have been adopted from Athabascan neighbors but were probably invented by Algonkian or Salish-speaking peoples of Canada, where these bags are also well known.

Culture: Tlingit
Region: Southeast Alaska
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length 102cm
Accession Date: 1950
Source: Mrs. Eugene F. Barnes Jr. (donor)
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 216805.000