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Soapberry spoon

hapshgoulgm ggan “soapberry spoon”
Language: Tsimshian

The Tsimshian word for soapberry is “as.” You whip it up, add a little sugar, maybe some salmonberries or blueberries.

—David Boxley, 2009

Soapberries are plentiful in the upriver territories of the Nisga’a and Gitxsan, who traditionally traded them to people on the coast. The berries were dried, whipped with water into foam, sweetened, and served with flat, beautifully carved hardwood spoons. During an 1858 feast that marked a high-ranking girl’s initiation into the Destroyer secret society, her father ordered two large canoes to be carried into the house and filled with soapberries, frothed with black molasses. The guests were unable to finish the huge serving.

Culture: Tsimshian
Region: Southeast Alaska
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length 38.7cm
Accession Date: 1874
Source: William H. Dall (donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E016255