Jacob Poleviyouma, Jr. – Hopi Bear Paw Watch Tips


Jacob Poleviyouma, Jr.

Jacob Poleviyouma, Jr. was of the Hopi Sun Clan in the Shungopavi-Hotevilla Pueblo. He learned his craft at the Hopi Silvercraft Cooperative Guild in Second Mesa, Arizona and produced jewelry from 1976 until his death in 1986.

Hallmark of Hopi Jacob Poleviyouma, Jr.

Hallmark of Hopi Jacob Poleviyouma, Jr.

Hopi Silvercraft Guild

The Hopi Silvercraft Guild was formed in 1949 by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board and the Hopi Government Agency. For twenty years, the Guild provided classes, a central workshop and a stable marketing outlet for Hopi made items.



Who made this necklace from the 60s and what is it worth?

Hi Paula,

I got this necklace in the 60s been in a storage box for 40 years, any idea what it is or who made it or what it would be worth if I sold it. Thanks Paul


This is a unique necklace as I have not seen anything quite like it. A combination of heishi, claws and a turquoise pendant. When you say you “got” it in the 60’s, how did you get it? From whom and where? That often helps.

The heishi looks handmade and like either acoma jet or dark shell (maybe olive shell) with some turquoise mixed in. Its hard to tell from the photos but it looks like there are some (deeply tarnished) silver heishi beads mixed in there too. Are there?  The beads and cones on the ends look appropriate for a Navajo made piece – could be sterling silver with 40 years of tarnish.

The claws are meant to represent Bear Claws. Whether they are real or faux claws, I can not tell from a photo. The hot pin prick is really the only way to tell – the smell is quite distinct between a real claw (if you’ve ever smelled burning tooth or bone or even branding of cattle or horses – its something like that) and a faux claw (a more acrid, sharp smoke – think burning plastic).

The treatment of the claws is very unique – the two side claws with their silver caps and added into the heishi. Very interesting treatment. But the crowning achievement is the way the three claws are affixed to the bottom edge of the pendant – see best when viewing the back of the pendant. – that took some thought and skill.

The setting around the turquoise stone is unusual (i.e. not traditional NA), looks free form handmade. The stone is very blue for being 40+ years old but life in a box might explain that.

Does this test positive for sterling silver? In some of the photos it looks like it is, and other not so much.

As far as the hallmark, although there are many hallmarks using similar arrows, most have either another symbol or initials along with the arrow.  In one hallmark book, there is a drawing of this arrow in the “Unidentified” section. So perhaps someone who reads this blog might have an idea, but I do not.

As to what it is, I’d call it a Bear Claw Necklace, whether or not they are real, that is the style.

Is it Native American made? It is definitely made in a Native American style but with a very unusual combination of elements. The hallmark leads one to think it was Native American made, but until the hallmark is identified, one can’t be sure if it was Native American made and if so, by whom.

As far as its worth, I wouldn’t hazard a guess from photos.  If I had it in hand I could give you an idea.



Dear Paula –
I just bought a pendant marked on the oval back as:
Quick online research implies this is Mr. Sacatero’s work.
The back is a concave oval measuring 2″ by 1 1/2″.
The front has five small claws, arranging as a right-hand paw (??) at the bottom of the piece.
The 5 ‘knuckles’ are small, perfectly-matched red coral (??).
The piece is about 3/4″ thick where the 5 red stones are, but not solid.
At the top, centered, is a single turquoise stone, mostly blue with distinctive black flecks. This stone is about 1/4 ” across.
The turquoise stone is surrounded by 3 overlapping silver sworls.
The 5 knuckles have tiny silver beads in uneven line on the top and bottom of the row of coral.
I am curious if Mr. Secatero is prominent and respected, and if you can offer any interpretations…. a standard piece for a man to wear as a pendant? High dollar value? Historical importance?
Should I polish?
Thank you for your time. I’ll be grateful for any comment.
I like the piece very much.
Cannot find anything online that is at all similar. Wonder if the piece has special significance , in the paw shape with turquoise , coral knuckles plus 5 claws.
Am very happy with my find here in the east!!!-:))Again my thanks -Pete

ESHi Pete,
The hallmark
is that of Navajo silversmith Elaine Sam, noted for her bear claw necklaces, bracelets, watches and pendants.
Currently we only have one item by Elaine Sam in our store. If you click on the photo, it will take you to the page.
NBT306-bearclaw-xxlg-sam-2We have had a number of her bear claw squash blossom style necklaces over the years. We purchased one this year and it sold a week after we listed it. Yes, Elaine Sam is still producing jewelry. Here is what her bear claw necklaces look like:
NBC62-1Your pendant is beautiful ! Judging by its size, it is made with badger claws to represent either a badger or bear paw.
As far as symbolism, the usual interpretation and the artist’s intent might be different but to get an idea of powers attributed to animals, you can visit here
As far as polishing, that’s a matter of personal preference. It looks nice as is.
This pendant would be suitable for a man or a woman to wear.
We don’t do appraisals from photos, but the value in a piece is in its significance to a person and it sounds like you hold this pendant in high esteem, so that means it has great worth !

Pendant loop too small for leather choker – what do I do?

Hi Paula,

Perhaps you can help out a fetish newbie. A few weeks back I bought from your website a black bear pendant and a leather necklace to put it on.




I’ve found the loop on the bear is too small to fit over the clasp on the necklace. I don’t want to return either one, but any suggestions? Should I take it to a jeweler? Try to flatten the loop to make it a little bigger? I sure don’t want to damage it. Or perhaps buy a different chain? How would I know that one would fit? I plan to eventually make a necklace of several fetishes that have special meaning for me, and I guess I need some help before I start.

I would appreciate any directions or suggestions you could give me.

Thanking you in advance,

Hi Linda,

First of all, any time your purchase something from us, feel free to ask ahead of time if a certain bead necklace, for example, will go through the bail of a pendant you are looking at. We can always check that out for you. For most pendants and necklaces we list the size of the bail on the pendant and the diameter (or thickness) of the necklace so you can get a pretty good idea.

The pendant you purchased was shown with a sterling silver round omega which would work very well with it as would most chains.

omega round thin

Also we have some very small, 5mm, antiqued beads that could work.


And yes, you could take your bear pendant to a jeweler who could gently heat and open up or otherwise reshape the heavy wire loop.


Recommendation for Protection against Evil and Bad Luck


My friend is interested in a native indian amulet or “charm” for protection against evil and bad luck.  Would these medicine bags be appropriate?  I specificially like the Crazy Horse bag with the gemstones, however, I am not sure about their spiritual powers or purpose.  Would you please be able to direct me to the proper item that I could buy for my friend.

Thank you. IJ

Hi IJ,

Every person has their own belief system when it comes to good spirits and good luck so it is not so important what is used, but what one believes. Picking up a special stone can do more to change one’s luck than purchasing a lottery ticket !!

With that said, you know your friend and his or her habits and propensity to ceremony and ritual. Here are some ideas.

The Crazy Horse bag is very nice.

Crazy Horse Bag by Apache artist Cynthia Whitehawk

I’d highly recommend any of the bags made by Apache artist, Cynthia Whitehawk as she makes each of her items in ceremony and with great attention to detail. They are filled with a wonderful spirit already !  She acknowledges that each of us tends to be drawn to certain animals, stones or other healing spirits, so she makes many bags and shares her thoughts on the protective and healing powers of each totem.  That is indicated at the bottom of each page describing the bag.

Eagle Spirit Bag by Apache artist Cynthia Whitehawk

Carved Zuni fetishes can also be very powerful talismans – many are suitable to carry in a pocket or purse making them handy to hold or rub.

Rainbow Calsilica Medicine Bear by Zuni artist Kenny Chavez

Some of these fetishes are available as pendants so they can be worn on a chain or leather choker.

Sacred White Buffalo Pendant by Zuni artist Cheryl Beyuka

A cross might be the perfect answer.

Sterling Silver and Turquoise Cross by Navajo artist Derrick Gordon

For those who are looking for good luck, such as would come from a finding a four leaf clover, there are Authentic Lucky Horseshoes.

Authentic Lucky Horseshoe

I hope I’ve given you some ideas to find the perfect item for your friend.

Wide Sterling Silver Navajo or Hopi Overlay Cuff with T Hallmark

Hi Paula

I’m curious about the mark in a 2″ widest, cuff bracelet that appears to be overlay work.  Inside, the mark looks like a capital “T” with the word sterling printed under the mark.  The top center design is sunface and there are two bear claw designs, one on each side.  It measures 6 1/2″ around, from edge to edge.

I was not able to photograph the mark on the inside as it is not in the middle but near one end of the bracelet — it is a capital “T” with the word “sterling” underneath.  I believe it was bought in either Santa Fe or Taos about 25 years ago. Thanks for any info you can give me.

Thank you,  Penny

Hi Penny,

Your nice heavy overlay bracelet has a sunface and what the artists we talk to usually call badger paws although they say that the buying public would rather think of them as bear paws, so that’s OK with them too ! We’ve heard the stylized depiction such as on your bracelet referred to both ways.

According to Hallmarks of the Southwest by Barton Wright, the hallmark T has been attributed to Navajo artist Tommy Singer. Early on he used the T, TS and and variations of a T often accompanied by a quarter moon or bird form.

His more recent hallmarks are

T. Singer


Hallmark T. Singer

Since you said this was originally purchased 25 years ago, it is possible it is some of Tommy Singer’s earlier work, however without seeing the piece in person or seeing the hallmark it is hard to say positively.

Tommy Singer is more noted for chip inlay and storyteller pieces such as the examples that I have used here. I personally have not seen simple overlay like this by him, although I have seen such bracelets by a number of both Navajo and Hopi artists.

It is possible that this could be a Hopi bracelet or a Hopi style bracelet made by a Navajo artist that used the T hallmark. If you can send me a photo of the hallmark, maybe I can see something distinctive about the hallmark. Also a closeup of one of the paws, would allow me to see the black oxidation background better to see if it is textured or a flat wash. When I zoom in on the photos you sent, the dark background appears to be a flat wash, more typical of Navajo made Hopi style overlay.

Below, for example is a Hopi style overlay bracelet made by a Navajo artist. It had simple, clean lines, no decorative stamping or embellishments. The black background was a wash, not texturized. It was sent to us as a Hopi bracelet and from the photos sent to us, it could have been, but as soon as it arrived it was clearly Navajo made and by an artist we were familiar with. So making positive determinations strictly from photos is difficult. If you click on this bracelet photo you can see more specs about it in terms of size and weight. We received and sold this bracelet a few years ago in our pawn shop.

So the jury is still out, but here is some more info on Tommy Singer and Overlay.

Who is Tommy Singer?

Known world wide for his silver work, chip inlay and necklaces, Tommy Singer pieces are highly collectible and sought after. The Tommy Singer family has been involved in silversmithing, stone and beadwork for a very long time, handing the art down from one generation to another. Tommy Singer grew up on in the community of Dilcon on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona and has been attributed as the first Native American artist to use chip inlay. This is where a silver piece is decorated with turquoise or coral chips.

What is Overlay?

Overlay pieces are made of two layers. The bottom layer is a solid sterling silver piece. The top layer has a cutout design. The cutout is placed over the bottom layer and the two pieces are “sweated” together, that is heated so that they become one. The bottom layer (background to the cutout) is usually accented. The Navajo silversmiths oxidize the bottom layer which darkens it. Hopi silversmiths typically oxidize and etch the background (texturize it) with hashmarks.

Navajo artist Russell Sam – Bear Pendant – Info Please?

Dear Paula,

I have come into the possession of a piece by Russell Sam and have tried in vain to find out anything about the artist.  I wondered if you might have some info on him or might be able to point me to someone who might have some biography info on him.  I would appreciate any help you could give me. I have attached a scanned picture of the Russell Sam pendant. If you know anything at all about the artist, I would appreciate whatever info you may have on him.  Thank you so much for your time and trouble.

 Sincerely,  Dolores

Hi Delores,

Russell Sam is a Navajo silversmith from the Gallup, New Mexico area who is still producing as we are currently purchasing his items.  In fact, we have a very similar pendant to yours in our store right now.

Many members of the Sam family are silversmiths in New Mexico and a number of them had worked for the Atkinson Trading Company in past years.