The Frog

The Frog

Above: Frog Mask by Charlie Johnson, Kwagiulth

The Frog is considered a supernatural being that inhabits the human, as well as the spirits world. Social and vocal, the Frog communicates between the two worlds. He can adapt easily to his environment, often switching between water and land.

Symbolically, the Frog represents abundance, wealth, wisdom, good luck, renewal and the changing of the seasons.

Above: Four Frogs print by Roy Henry Vickers, Tsimshian

Though small in stature, the Frog is a significant future to many Northwest Coast Peoples.

For the Gitxsan peoples of Skeena Valley, the Frog has been a clan crest for thousands of years and powerful symbol of transformation.

In Tsimshian culture the Frog is known as the communicator between mother earth and man.

To the Coast Salish peoples the Frog is honoured as the keeper of the seasons. In the early spring when the frogs begin to croak they are announcing the beginning of a new cycle -  it is time to put aside the things of winter and to begin a new year. Some believe that when the last snowflakes of winter touch the ground they turn into frogs.

Above: Argillite Frog Pendant by Ron Russ, Haida

The Haida people tell of how until recently there were no frogs living in Haida Gwaii. A legend tells of a Frog Chief who, while travelling the island, stumbled upon a black bear. The black bear found the Frog amusing and tried to step on it. But the Frog escaped by hopping between the bear’s legs. The Frog Chief returned to his village to tell of this terrifying experience and warn the other Frogs. Out of fear that this bear would find them, the frogs packed their belongings and left Haida Gwaii.

Another legend in Northwest Coast culture tells of a starving village where no one was catching any fish, so a warrior went off to find some food for his people. The warrior met a bird. The bird said he could help, so the warrior followed the bird who led the warrior to a Frog. The Frog allowed the warrior to wear his skin. While wearing the Frog’s skin, the Warrior was able to hunt and retrieve enough food for his whole village. But as time passed, the warrior turned into a Frog and went to live in the sea where he would catch fish for his people until the end of his days.

Above: Silver Repousse Frog Bracelet by Derek White, Haida

In Northwest Coast Art the Frog is often depicted with large eyes, prominent lips, a wide mouth, protruding tongue, and webbed feet. If the Frog’s tongue is shown touching another creature, this represents the sharing of knowledge and power. On totem poles a Frog may be carved on the bottom to symbolize stability, or on the top to symbolize the communication of warnings or impending danger. The frog may also be seen carved on house posts in the belief that the Frog would prevent the post from falling down.

See more depictions of the Frog native symbol here.