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Soapberry spoon

xakwl’l shál “soapberry spoon”
Language: Lingít

The people came together for gift giving sometimes…Friends came together just to visit with friends. They brought gifts like that. Maybe at the time they made this it was a small gift, but now it’s considered a very huge gift.

—Clarence Jackson, 2005

Soapberries are a prized feast food, traditionally acquired from Athabascan trading partners. Dried berries are whipped with water to make red foam and eaten with carved hardwood spoons. This spoon has a spine-like design along the handle, along with a bird’s head pointing toward the end, and a spirit face on the back of the bowl.

Culture: Tlingit
Region: Admiralty Island, Southeast Alaska
Village: Kootznahoo (Letushkwin)
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length 38.3cm
Accession Date: 1882
Source: John J. McLean (collector, U.S. Signal Service)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E060147