Transferring the Bear Knife
“Among the Blackfoot people of old,” says artist Z. S. Liang, “the power of the Bear Knife was legendary. It was believed to be so powerful that it could immobilize an enemy with fear at the sight of a warrior holding it! The warrior entrusted with the knife had to prove himself worthy of it, even during the ceremonial transfer.”
American Museum of Natural History anthropologist Clark Wissler describes the object as ” . . . a large dagger-like knife, to the handle of which was attached the jaws of a bear . . . which the recipient must catch when violently thrown at him . . . .” As a rule, the ‘keeper’ could not use any other weapon when going into battle. During the winter months the sacred knife would sleep wrapped securely in its bundle. The unwrapping ceremony was given with the coming of spring, coinciding with the time when bears emerged from hibernation.