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Indigenous artwork on the Pacific Northwest Coast often incorporates figures and animals that are related to crest symbols. Crests have been passed down through families and have varying meanings depending on the context and association with a nation, clan, or family. The figures depicted in contemporary Northwest Coast Indigenous artwork also have varying meanings but there are some common characteristics from a range of sources, including oral histories and artist descriptions.
Bear is one of the most prevalent figures in Northwest Coast art and oral tradition. Bear is often considered to be a close relation to humankind and a link between the human and non-human realms due to physical characteristics such as appearance and expression, as well as anthropomorphic behaviours like nurturing young and standing on hind legs. Associated with strength and fierceness, Bears have been depicted as guardians and protectors of human heroes. Bear is identified by a wide mouth with prominent teeth, a short round snout with large nostrils, and clawed feet.
Frog is a creature of great importance on the Northwest Coast. Frogs are social and vocal creatures and are typically seen as the communicators of the animal world. They often symbolize communication and represent the voice of the people. Frog is also associated with versatility as it lives in both water and land. In Northwest Coast artwork, Frog is sometimes depicted with its tongue going into the mouth of another figure as a visual reference for sharing knowledge. Frog is generally given large eyes, prominent lips with a projecting tongue and webbed feet.