BLACK BEAR FETISH
Artist: Fitz Kiyite
Measures approximately 1-1/4" x 1/4" x 3/4"
The word "fetish" can be broadly applied to a number of Native American ceremonial artifacts, including prayer sticks, peace pipes, medicine bags and so on. But most often it is used to describe an animal carving—usually of stone, which houses the spirit or supernatural qualities of the animal.
A Zuni Indian legend tells of ancient menacing creatures whose spirits were imprisoned in stone by a mysterious spell. The earliest known fetishes were Pre-Columbian carvings of these fantastic or unrecognizable animals; as the centuries passed carvers took to representing actual animals from the world around them, each with its own spirit or significance.
Across the continent, Native Americans of many tribes have used animal fetishes in prayers and ceremonies as talismans for successful hunting and fishing, procreation, agriculture, protection of the young, health and long life, etc. Fetishes may be personal or tribal in use.