The Knife That Growls…

by forrest fenn

These vignettes from Forrest’s collection are only to share. To see 294 additional pieces  please visit




This Sioux medicine knife was born for action.



It was not a domestic accessory to be used around the tepee and it wasn’t a skinner. It was Indian-made about 1850 for use in hand-to-hand combat. While in the slashing fist of its master it had neither soul nor pity.


The bear-jaw haft insinuated a ferocity that provided an edge when the margin between life and death rode a thin line.




“The best offense is a good defense.”



Oral history among the Hunkpapa Sioux speaks of a Lakota brave who, while holding such a weapon at ready, found himself in a precipitous position. Three hated Crow Indian warriors, wearing grim faces, were drawing near. Upon hearing the knife roar “approach at your own peril,” the warriors turned and fled, not being willing to test the supremacy of the bear.



104 thoughts on “The Knife That Growls…

    • The Cave of Treasure, the Old and the New
      Brothers again

      A knife of this quality would have never been used for just a hunt,
      or battle.
      This knife is and looks in accordance to other medicine knifes ,
      from the early 1800’s , due to the metal rivets in the butt of the blade, and also in some of the ways these knives were built.
      Except one thing, the blade…. The quality of work (TIME) that went into this project tells me this blade has another agenda. Possibly used in Sacrifice.
      If Ancient culture is preserved in these cultures then it would be to my understanding that ,
      the Ancient American Indians were not the Oldest culture on this Planet. Nor the oldest by Habitation,Nor is their culture or use of tools.
      There are sites in Europe that date back over 40,000 years and that have been found that, the use of Cave Bear and other animals have been seen to reflect similar ways of life to the American Indian , Including flouts which have a direct connect to the Spirit of worship between the two cultures, along with The connection between Wolves and men which have been see by wolf and child foot prints found in the cave together, as in walking side by side..
      Chauvet caves of Southern France is the oldest known pictorial creations of humanity painted by human hands and is a perfect connection to enlighten people into Ancient people’s past and their connection in this future; As well other cities that were that have not been dated yet and are thought to be hundreds of thousands of years old.
      By calcite on the walls they were able to determine the age of the and Chauvet caves it’s inhabitants, including tools and weapons. As well as Art , religion to be between 38,49,000 years old. A lot older than the 8,000 year old spotted skull shown in other posts.. Which is said to represent the Sun Dance.This religion worshiped the Woman for being able to bring forth life . She ” The Vessel of Life” Which in sounds very similar to the Sun Dance.This Ancient way of worship demands animal , or human sacrifice. Not my thinking but proven fact, The worship of the Fertility goddess” Lilith” is the earliest name in written and Oral history known to man. And is depicted in the cave also in braced by a Bison. Where in this early depiction you see why the Bison and skull is important to this.
      The reason I bring this to your attention is, If this older culture was already doing the same thing as American Indians ,
      Before them , then who taught the American Indian these ways.
      Enjoy the Quick Study.
      Totally Awesome piece for you to have in your Collection , that thing looks mean.

        • Your welcome…This was a very fascinating place ,that helps us as humans too lighten up with each other and realize we are all blood brothers in one way or another. Our cultures and ways of life are similar and should be respected in such.

          • I try to stay neutral
            I just try to understand the information. My quote is by memory not google. I Love to study early human history, and try to connect some dots. This cave , Has a Alter for sacrifice which atop it a 15,000 yr old bear. As far as I can remember the cave was abandoned and used by Cave bears for some time also. So… I could only analyze on some of the thing I could see and documentation I could find to read.
            By the way MIT library is online and free. You would be amazed what journals you can find in there. You can take hundreds of college classes for free.

        • That is awesome! Noting the dual edge, one can clearly see it was stone sharpened. Truly it is a weapon imbued with the spirit of furiousity.

          Forrest thank you, again you open my eyes to a age past and still present in some places around america. Being of the mind that we city dwellers have it all wrong. Living one with nature is the way to go.

          The only time I have felt so alive was when I was out in the wilderness. In the city I feel dead, few adventures to be had here for an old man.

          A little mental meandering:

          Buildings abound and their lights obscure the glimmer of the stars.

          She calls to me. “Harken to my words, warrior of old”. Listen to the creek babble and the chorus of bird song. Come dance with me.
          Walk in my fields and forests, wade in a stream.

          Oh nature why do you torment me so. A willing heart and a reluctant body is all I can offer.
          Again she whispers “Come dance with me”

  1. Why do you call it a “medicine knife” in the first sentence if it was for use in hand-to-hand combat?

    I mean, come on, a US marine wouldn’t call his Ka-bar a medicinal tool………

  2. That knifes history reminds me of why I’m happy to be a meek tourist in Central Park today and checking out a Broadway show this evening.

  3. Patterns are what catch my eyes attention. What I notice is fine, unique craftmanship with fenn’s artisan works in the middle. It shows that f has some equally fine, unique, crafty talent. Yup, crafty f is! Please, continue with the show. I see no point in stopping. We, the searchaholics, love it. Thank you for sharing, sir.

  4. To quote Forest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates.” You just never know what you will get. Going to the blog every morning is the same way. Today I got a caramel!! Love looking at history through the eyes of a “history maker.”

  5. I think the saying goes “The best Defense is a good Offense” 🙂

    Interesting fierce looking piece. Did you wear this when you went to the Mountain Man Rendezvous?

  6. To let everyone know I’m not plugging the book in this comment. I’m not sure it is still in publication.
    As an occasional collector of native American artifacts I came across a book titled In Search of Ice Age Americans by Kenneth Tankersley.
    I purchased the book over a decade ago. I vaguely remembered the Fenn Cache mentioned in the book and it bothered me enough to go and find it from the boxes of books that were stored since we moved to our current home. I wanted to see if the Fenn Cache was Forrest’s.
    What do you know? Forrest Fenn is mentioned in the book at least 11 times and the Fenn Cache 8 times.
    On page 173 I believe there is a picture of Forrest at San Lazaro. On page 89 is the Fenn Clovis Cache and throughout the book as well. Very impressive Clovis knives which in my opinion are unrivaled by any other knife. I say this because of the precision it took to make these from stone. There are no do overs when a mistake is made when crafting a stone knife. One bad chip and its back to the rock pile/quarry.
    I understand now why Wyoming is special to Forrest. Not only for the fish but the artifacts and history.
    I wonder if these are still in his possession or have they been acquired by another collector. Either way these are some of the most impressive in the world.
    I think what a coincidence that I have a book purchased approximately 12 years ago and then two years ago I find out about The Thrill of the Chase and Forrest plays a central role in each. Small world I guess.
    Anyway if there is a chance for anyone to view these Clovis knives online or from the book I highly recommend doing this.

        • lia-
          I doubt that Forrest was intending to joke or baffle about the provenance of the knife.
          Look at this reference-

          Rather, in my opinion, he simply confused it’s history with other’s in his collection. Forrest has thousands and thousands of items in his collection which includes scores of knives. I am certain he wrote that story without consulting his notes and simply made a mistake…which apparently is not much of a mistake except by our own entomology..

          Forrest’s intention is to inform and share…not mystify..
          If he encourages folks to look things up…investigate…research…I think that is by plan.

          • Thanks Dal that answers my question about the who it was attributed to. I will try not to dissect things so much in the future.

          • Actually, there is a disagreement among experts about the dags tribal affiliation: Blackfoot, Blackfeet or Sioux. Even Crow. So who knows? There are no identifying marks that might point it one way or the other. Maybe I should have said it was Plains Indian to be safe. But then when did I ever do anything just to be safe?

          • Forrest,

            I think they all forgot that one of your conditions, was that you are allowed to be wrong once in a while. And geez… it has been a while, hasn’t it. BTW, did you have many hard starts when you flew the F-100D?

          • Safe Snaf… How much fun that would be to get to the bottom of that… I am not qualified of course but if you could try to research it enough to determine where it really came from how cool would that be!!!

            Thank you again Forrest for all the fun!!!

          • Or maybe like 99.9% of the population, he innocently wrote the wrong word while thinking the right one.

            How many times have we called our own child by their siblings name…”The couch is not a trash can, Jo–I mean Stev–I mean Paul. Dang it!”


          • Forrest & Dal, I appreciate your historical info and don’t mind being corrected by you at all. My knowledge is quite limited and I find your discourse interesting or in some cases down right entertaining. Sorry I didn’t reply sooner, working through sad extended family news.

            I doubt many appreciate the level of THOUGHTFUL ideas and time required for Forrest to continue providing scrapbooks and Dal to maintain such an EXCELLENT blog.

            For the 6-8000 lurkers, at some point sign in and express your kind gratitude to Forrest and Dal 🙂

    • Tar-
      That collection of stunningly beautiful Clovis points that you make reference to is called “The Fenn Cache”. Forrest no longer owns that collection. While it was in his possession two friends of Forrest’s, Drs. George Frison and Bruce Bradley wrote a book about the cache which contained incredible photos of the points by Pete Bostrom.

      Although Forrest was not the original finder of the cache it is named after him because he was able to keep it together rather than allow the various artifacts to be sold individually, which would have been its most likely fate given it’s size, value and sheer beauty. I have heard Forrest tell the story of how he obtained the Fenn Cache several times. It is really a remarkable story. I may have it on video or audio, I’ll post it if I find it.

      In the mean time, Google “Fenn Cache” and you will find many references to it including where it is thought to have been originally found.

      These “caches” are occassionally found. The last one I read about was found in a fellow’s suburban yard when workers were putting in a drip system in his lawn. It is thought that these caches were left by ancient hunters in areas where they frequently hunted so there would be an ample supply of hunting points when they returned. Some caches are also thought to have been “gifts” to the hunting spirits. If so, The Fenn Cache may have been one of these just because of it’s artistic beauty. That is to say that although most of the points are certainly useable, several may be too beautiful to have been made just for everyday hunting.

      A large poster of the points was also printed when the book came out in 1999. I have a copy of the book. They show up on eBay and Amazon from time to time but the only poster I have run across is one at Forrest’s house. They are rarer than hen’s teeth.

      The book not only has striking images of the Clovis points but also explains what is known and assumed about the Clovis people. It’s a good book to have in your collection of western historical material.

      • Thank you Dal. Very interesting information. So “Forrest Like” to keep the collection together. What about the question that the knife in the post is said to be of Sioux origin but on Splendid Heritage it attributes it to the blackfoot tribe. Just curious…. Also in a picture of Forrests’ closet you can see the poster of the “Clovis Points” I may have to go back and take a look again????

      • Dal,

        Thanks for the info.

        I also have found an archaic cache of 10 or so preforms and points. I was speechless because at the time I had only read about these caches.

        My first find was at 13 years old overlooking the Little Kanawha and Ohio rivers. Since then I have been hooked.

        I tell my wife it beats golfing or watching the grass grow.

        I guess this is why the Chase has captured my attention and efforts. It is more about the search than the treasure.

        Good luck with your searches and be safe.

  7. For the Plains Indians, one of the most powerful and remarkable animal was the grizzly bear. The significance of the bear has played a particularly important role as a physically strong and awesome but also wise animal. Bear motifs are an imposing aspect of Plains Indian art.

    • I have noticed the use of dance many times in many difference ways thus indicating it is significant. Just out of the top of my head:
      – The several references to bronze buffalos has a buffalo jump exhibit at deadwood created by Kevin Costner which is linked to “Dances with Wolves”
      – The dancing gypsies in his book ttotc and in that story this quote: “The flashing flames made dancing shadows that seemed to move with the music”
      – He has a book called: Beat of the Drum and the Whoop of the Dance

      I am sure many other searchers could name a few more. The key maybe to understand the significance of the “dance”
      The Wolf

      • Wolf, I believe you are correct, the significance lies in “the dance.” As Forrest communed with nature he danced with life. That’s where my soul sings as well. And there is a continuous dance of words here on dals blog.

        Regarding the fierce knife, I have to say, every man who was forced to fight an enemy in combat will at Heaven’s gate…
        “With fond embraces meet at last
        Before the throne of harmony.”

      • Don’t you just love that movie? I do!
        And I agree with you Wolf. “Dance” is significant.
        I believe it’s connected spiritually on a soul level.
        Have you read Forrest’s book Beat of the Drum and the Whoop of the Dance?

  8. Not sure why, but something about this reminded me of the time a friend snagged a 30 inch Spoonbill catfish below Pickwick dam with a treble hook. He was trying for Drum. Never seen anything like the fish. We did a quick release..

  9. WiseOne, thanks for the tip. I like to support Mr. Fenn’s website but $300 is a bit high when saving towards a trip. The Amazon price is doable – I may ask for it for Christmas.

  10. Thanks Dal! I’m looking forward to reading it. Not sure if I can wait for Christmas. Enjoy your evening, appreciate your help.

  11. I have a similar knife in my collection but folded over and over. This one though has an early walrus tusk. I will link a picture soon. Anyway, tonight is “Beaver Moon”. I think I will growl at it. It’s a November thing.

      • Your a fast learner. I have seen pictures of early indian weapons. I have picture I took recently at a museum with a bear jaw attached. Again, I need to start linking some of my pictures relating to the chase.

  12. Popped in to catch up… I wanted to recommend an exceptional book that I just finished reading … THE HEART OF EVERYTHING THAT IS — The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend. (2013, NYT’s best seller).

    It provides a lot of context for the artifacts that Mr Fenn has displayed on this blog, and offers remarkable insight into the cultural conflicts of the American West in the 1800’s. It’s far more descriptive than that Osborne book, and shows historical effects of cultural misunderstanding. (Useful even for current world observers.)

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