Shaman’s Equipment main content.

Shaman’s Equipment

Part of Northwest Coast Hall.


Shamans, sometimes called “medicinemen,” controlled supernatural powers. They cured or caused illness, brought good weather, caused abundant fish runs, and brought good luck to the whole village. A person became a shaman by fasting alone in the forest, and, with luck, meeting one or more spirits who bestowed power upon him. Every shaman had special songs, masks, and other paraphernalia for each of his spirits. When performing, a shaman summoned his spirits by singing and dancing. The songs were accompanied by men drumming on boards and by the shaman himself shaking a rattle. Shamans wore masks when they danced and carried various wands and other gear.